It was sort of a desperate stumble to the finish line this 2018. I cannot say that there wasn’t a lot to be thrilled about, it was just tough and tiring. On the Glass front, our maestro received the Kennedy Center Honors on December 2nd (broadcast on CBS Dec.26th at 8pm) and finished his TWELFTH SYMPHONY with the LA Philharmonic under the baton of John Adams, finished 100 minutes (!)of music for a new theater work, preparing to compose music for a new production of KING LEAR on Broadway, and working on his FIRST PIANO SONATA which premieres this summer in Germany.
More immediately we managed to get four releases out at the end of the year including two wold music albums THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH and SUSO/GLASS QUARTET, as well as a new recording of TWO PAGES by bagpipist (?) Matthew Welch, and Anton Batagov’s new wonderful recording of THE HOURS and the CD premiere of DISTANT FIGURE.
We have a number of new things cracking at OMM including the release of Philip’s recent PARTITA FOR SOLO DOUBLE BASS, a soundtrack to a samurai movie, a new album with Third Coast Percussion a TV opera by Lisa Bielawa called VIREO, the LP release of Simone Dinnerstein performing Piano Concerto No.3, which she recently performed with the London Symphony, and I’ll be heading to NYC in the beginning of January for a new recording with Brooklyn Rider and Paul Barnes recording a new Glass album including STRING QUARTET NO.8 and PIANO QUINTET “Annunciation.” Thrilled about that, but also about the launch of the PHILIP GLASS INSTITUTE at THE NEW SCHOOL which comes along with a free performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble on January 6th.
On the SUPERTRAIN RECORDS side, January 11 will release pianist/composer MICK ROSSI’s new album DRIVE. It’s a thrilling live album recorded at the Museum of Modern Art in 2011. I love it and I hope you do too. A couple weeks later Supertrain will release its first physical release, the Namekawa-Davies piano duo performing Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony arranged by Shostakovich. There’s a lot to say about that, but more on that later. That will come out February 8th, in tandem with two performances by the duo in San Francisco’s Other Minds Festival on Feb.10th, and at the Morgan Library on Feb.12th.
We will also start releasing new tracks from the March 22nd album YAMAMOTO PERPETUO in celebration of Michael Nyman’s 75th birthday year and a new album of piano music by Polish composer Zbigniew PREISNER. More on that one soon as well!
Tis The Season
Winter is in fact coming and there’s just too much exciting stuff happening. After a recent live stream from the Salem Witch House with Matt Haimovitz, I reached out to composer John Debney who scored the Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus” asking if he had, by chance, the inclination to provide us with a piece for string quartet from the Hocus Pocus score that we might play here in Salem. He graciously sent the very next day a piece which we hope to be live streaming, again from the Witch House, in celebration of Hocus Pocus’ 25th anniversary.
That takes us to Monday. On Saturday night I’m heading down to NYC to attend the Philip Glass Ensemble’s performance of MUSIC IN 12 PARTS at Town Hall , the place where the piece had its premiere in 1974. I have heard the complete piece twice previously. Once was at Lincoln center in summer 2002 when the LC Festival was celebrating Glass’ 65th birthday. Then again I got to hear the piece in 2012 on the occasion of Glass’s 75th birthday at the sumptuous Park Avenue Armory. It was a great place to hear it. Now with Glass at 81, you take your chances to hear the piece, with the original band, with the composer at the keyboard.
Then it’s back to NYC at the beginning of November for Satyagraha (with circus performers) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Satyagraha really was a revelation to me only when I finally saw it in 2008 with the great Crouch/McDermott production at the Met Opera (originally commissioned by the English National Opera who has done it four times). That production is currently playing to rave reviews in Los Angeles. Excited to see this new/different take at BAM’s Harvey Theatre.
THEN it’s off to Chicago for the Chicago Philharmonic’s Polish Music Festival Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Polish Independence, coinciding with the world premiere of Philip Glass’ newest piece, a percussion quartet called Perpetulum that was written for Third Coast Percussion and will be releasing in March on Orange Mountain Music.
November 14th is an important date because Wojciech Kilar’s Piano Concerto No.1 will be performed at Carnegie Hall. As a huge Kilar fan there’s no way I can miss it. Orange Mountain has THREE releases in November including THE SPIRIT OF THE EARTH Glass’s collaboration with indigenous Mexicans, the SUSO/GLASS QUARTET a new recording by Matthew Welch of TWO PAGES, and on November 2, a special release that I’m related to by the wonderful composer Cliff Eidelman (Star Trek VI, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) who composed a new symphony which he recorded with the London Symphony. It’s a great piece and I hope it does really well.
I’ll get a reprieve of a couple of weeks before the next Salem Classical event on December 9th, when the RAHA DUO performs Shostakovich’s Op.33 Preludes arranged for viola/piano by Lera Auerbach. JUST ADDED to this program is a world premiere of Evan Ziporyn’s newest work, and what will probably be the East Coast, New England, or possibly even the American premiere of Shostakovich’s newly discovered Impromptu for violin and piano.
Then we are into the new year. Supertrain Records will start on January 4th to release one track per week of the 12 movement YAMAMOTO PERPETUO by composer Michael Nyman in celebration of his 75th birthday. The full album (CD release) will happen on March 22nd, the day before Nyman’s 75th birthday. In the meantime, Supertrain will be releasing the new SHOSTAKOVICH SYMPHONY NO.4 arranged for two pianos by Shostakovich on February 8th, right at the time of two performances by the pianists Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies in San Francisco (Other Minds and in New York (Morgan Library).
Phew…it should all be a lot of fun.
WINTER IS COMING
No rest for the weary in the summer. The music season is much like the winter sports seasons of basketball or hockey in that summer is in one way very quiet. However, with the advent of dozens of summer music festivals part of the summer is taken up with that kind of thing, but when wearing the record producer cap, summer is actually when you prepare you fall releases. On that front, I don’t recall a busier summer in my professional life.
I suppose you could say summer kicked off in late-May with my trip with composer Elliot Goldenthal to Katowice and Krakow (Krakowice they say for short) for the premiere of Goldenthal’s Trumpet Concerto and the extreme honor of spending an afternoon at the Penderecki country estate in Luslawice, home to the Penderecki Centre. It was a thrilling afternoon in very unusual hot weather for that time of year.
Coming straight from the plane from New York via Frankfurt, I thought we might say hello and have a nice tea - say our pleasantries (pleasantries is code for not trying to fall to one’s knees in front of one of the giants of 20th C. Music) and be on our way. Instead, we were hosted for the entire day including cake and coffee, a tour on foot of the Penderecki Centre, then a full big multi-course lunch, followed by a tour of the garden. I did everything except wander around in the labrynth. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
This thrilling trip culminated in a different way with the premiere of the Goldenthal concerto, meetings with such composers like the brilliant Zbigniew Presiner who showed us around forgotten corners of the main square of Krakow and described the under-underground where he used to do cabaret shows. This was all in all a thrilling way to start the summer.
This was followed by my trip to trip to Chicago in July and my interaction with the brilliant William Bolcom and the esteemed conductor Dennis Russell Davies. You might think one might feel unaccomplished and generally dumb around such people but it’s actually quite thrilling.
This all lead to a performance on 25 July at Salem Classical by the Fidelio Trio performing trios by Fauré, Schubert, and the New England premiere of Bolcom’s brilliant trio which I hope to record with FT next year on Supertrain. The very next day I did one of my down-and-back trips to NYC for a discussion and performance at the Apple Store in SoHo with pianist Simone Dinnerstein and composer Philip Glass to discuss their new album CIRCLES and Glass’s Piano Concerto No.3 which he composed for Simone. Back in Boston by 2am, tiring but better than waking up in NYC and wasting a day traveling back to Boston through Friday traffic.
In the midst of all this it was announced that Philip Glass was to be awarded the Kennedy Center Honors this December. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy or a greater artist. Meanwhile, I’m on full-on OMM fall schedule. We got the CELLO OCTET AMSTERDAM’s new record MOTION PICTURE out on 27 July and now it’s on to organist James McVinnie’s album THE GRID for 17 August. McVinnie will be the organist on Glass’s newest work, Symphony No.12 “Lodger” at the premiere in Los Angeles in January and the springtime UK premiere in London at the Southbank Centre.
Having my full attention right now is Maki Namekawa’s new album MISHIMA which will be released on 7 September. More on that later….
No rest for the weary in the summer.
Coming August 10th,
A new album,
COUNTDOWN TO SILENCE,
Back in perhaps 2016, as part of my work for Orange Mountain Music, I came into contact with the composer Lior Rosner who was producing a new album called CINEMATIX of remixes of Philip Glass’s music. I came to work for OMM in the beginning of 2006 shortly after the release of the first ever Glass remix album called GLASSCUTS. Actually my first encounter with OMM co-founder Don Christensen was at a club called Galapagos in Williamsburg Brooklyn in late 2005, shortly after the premiere of Glass’s Eighth Symphony at BAM. The event at Galapagos was actually a record-release party for GLASSCUTS. That album itself was a kind of collection of unsolicited remixes. OMM was a new thing and in a wave all sorts of people, inspired by Glass’ music, started to submit things to be released. This was followed by REWORK in 2012 with remixes by people like Beck and Cornelius. Unlike the first remix album, REWORK was a project designed to be an artistic statement by producer Hector Castillo who, along with Glass, drafted a list of composers and DJs they thought might have something interesting to say by using Glass’s music.
So another five years passed and it seemed like it was time to think about this kind of creativity again. Working with Glass’s publisher Dunvagen, enter KUMMERSPECK. I recall hearing the album CINEMATIX for the first time. I have to say my first impression was one of being every impressed: the album distinguished itself because for the first time it seemed to be something of a singular artistic statement. Rather than a chorus of voices this was Glass’ music filtered through a singular vision.
Intrigued by this, we made a deal for the commercial release of the album and in doing so I came into contact with Lior. All I can say is that Lior knows his stuff. He comes from a classical background. Not that that means much in itself, but it’s more from the perspective of how we both understand music. It’s our baseline. We can talk about all sorts of things and know common references. In our conversations about Lior’s concert music, he mentioned this new Kummerspeck project COUNTDOWN TO SILENCE.
Kummerspeck has its own wide ranging activity and interest. People may know them from their work with RuPaul. But in talking about this new album, at one point Lior invited me to hear it. Right at this time I was thinking about this new venture of Supertrain Records. In all my work and putting out records these past 15 years, I have often come across things that interest me but don’t fit into my prescribed activities. With the advent of Supertrain, the vehicle is created specifically for things like this. Lior and I talked about our intentions for this album and it boils down to the fact that it’s the kind of music that people like.
CHICAGO July 2018:
Continuing to reminisce, I first saw conductor Dennis Russell Davies would have been in 2002. This was a couple of months after 9/11 at Carnegie Hall at the world premiere of Philip Glass’s Symphony No.6 “Plutonian Ode” (not Plutonium Ode as so many people say). Davies had been music director and co-founder of the American Composers Orchestra. It was a magical all-Glass evening whereby I drove down from Boston with some friends returning to Boston via Providence on the way home on the same night that New England won its first Super Bowl.
This was followed soon thereafter by the American premiere of Glass’ Tirol Concerto for piano and string orchestra at the Met Museum in March 2003. Then followed the world premiere of Glass Symphony No.8, on the same program with Symphony No.6 at BAM in late-2005 as well as performances of Cav-Pag at the Met Opera. I was then working for an artist agency which represented Davies. He had always been a musical hero of mine, not just for his connection to Glass but an inherent courage in his performances and his programming choices. It was very clear.
Flash forward a number of years to this past weekend. I now represent Davies as a conductor and pianist in North America. This past weekend Davies was conducting the Grant Park Festival Orchestra in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5 and William Bolcom’s Symphony No.4 “The Rose” (with mezzo Kelley O’Connor) along with the bombastic finale to his Fifth Symphony (The Machine) to celebrate Bolcom’s 80th birthday year. Davies was brilliant.
The trip was a fascinating one on a number of fronts. It’s heartening to see 8 or 9,000 people coming to see free symphony concerts including a modern piece (albeit from 1986). I did have the occasion to have breakfast with Bolcom on Saturday morning and he and his wife Joan were lovely people. One of the first Supertrain Records was the archival recording of Bolcom performing his first set of piano etudes recorded live in 1971. It’s a rough listen recording live, but it’s thrilling to hear this 50 year old document and what the performance represents.
Looking forward, Supertrain will be releasing the new recording by Davies and Namekawa performing Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony arranged for two pianos by Shostakovich in advance of their two performances of the work in San Fransisco and New York in February 2019. As for Bolcom, I very much hope to engage his music in recorded form and some concert programming. Most immediately, in my local chamber music series, on July 25th the outstanding Fidelio Trio from London will be coming to Salem Classical in Salem Mass with a program featuring Bolcom’s 2014 Piano Trio.
The summer is supposed to be quiet. At least quieter than the music season which is generally between September through perhaps May. In the case of recorded music, when we are in the middle of summer we are usually preparing our fall releases, generally regarded as the busy season. Still…still, we try to find some days to breathe deeply, or at least we hope for some.
With that said, probably starting in April I feel like I’ve been on a whirlwind. In April I traveled to Nebraska to attend the premiere of Philip Glass’ piano quintet “Annunciation.” The commissioner was pianist Paul Barnes and he did the premiere with the Chiara Quartet. It was a thrill to hear the piece in rehearsals and the big celebration of its first performance in front of a packed house at the Lied Center in Lincoln. It was a memorable trip because it was one of those really hairy departures in a bad storm out of Newark.
A few weeks later I found myself on an Amtrak train from Boston to New York, then a flight to Poland via Germany, then a car ride to Penderecki’s country estate in Luslawice. It was a wonderful and thrilling trip which included the world premiere of Goldenthal’s Trumpet Concerto with NOSPR in Katowice and Krakow. In the middle of these things are trips to New York for various reasons. The small price I have to pay for not living in New York is traveling to New York all the time. There was also a couple trips to Maine, and then a recent trip to Chicago. Why does any of this matter?
It mattes because if you are going to work with musicians from time to time you have to get out on the road to see what it’s like. Being a musician is not easy on a number of fronts. It’s not easy to be away from your family. It’s not easy to have composure and to be at your best in terms of performance when you are tired or hungry. I really don’t know how they do it. It’s a vocation and it takes you away from all sorts of other things.
That brings me back to my original thought: it’s the middle of summer and I can’t imagine being more busy. On 20 July a brilliant recording of a new piano work by Philip Glass, “Distant Figure: Passacaglia for Solo Piano (2017)” will be released on OMM. On July 25 the esteemed Fidelio Trio comes to Salem Classical in Salem Mass for a performance of Fauré, Schubert, and the New England Premiere of Willam Bolcom’s Piano Trio. On the 26th of July I will be moderating a conversation between Simone Dinnerstein and Philip Glass at the iTunes Store in Soho Manhattan in celebration of the recent OMM recording CIRCLES featuring piano concertos by Bach and Glass. On 27 July a new recording called MOTION PICTURE performed by the Cello Octet Amsterdam and Maki Namekawa. On 10 August the new album by KUMMERSPECK called COUNTDOWN TO SILENCE comes out.
I’m currently working on the new Shostakovich Symphony No.4 recording (arranged by Shostakovich) to be released in February. Also a new solo piano album of music by Glass with pianist Maki Namekawa, Glass’s Symphony No.11, organizing the 2018-19 season of Salem Classical, and hopefully much much more.
But it’s July 12th and I’m already wondering where my summer went.