The new concert season is upon us, and I'm eager to get back into the swing of things. I'll refrain from regaling you with recaps of Roxy Music's half-century victory lap and Porcupine Tree's return from a 12-year encore break, both concerts I attended in big venues last week. (Doctor's warning: Wallowing in nostalgia is a guiltless pleasure, but can trigger contemplation of mortality.)
Great fun, but I'm looking forward to feeling a sense of being back on task.
Here is the news.
• My latest Weekend Arts Planner for WNYC and Gothamist included a bit of company-boosting, but I wager it's not out of place among readers of this missal: New Sounds, the imperishable new-music program hosted by John Schaefer, went on the air 40 years ago, and New York Public Radio is celebrating on Wednesday night with a concert at Brooklyn Bowl. Excellent local bands Red Baraat and Combo Chimbita will perform live, and Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley are serving as DJs. As I wrote here in February (and repeated on Gothamist over the weekend), my connection to John and New Sounds goes all the way back to 1987, when I acquired my hardcover copy of his book of the same name – which came with me when I moved to New York City a few years later – and I'm elated to see his mission recognized and celebrated.
• As Opera Philadelphia prepares to open Festival O22, its inventive annual celebration of traditional and contemporary opera, this Wednesday, the company has just named Courtney Bryan its newest composer in residence. Bryan, a compelling creator and pianist, previously collaborated with Opera Philadelphia on Blessed, a collaboration with media artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden, streamed as part of the impressive season of video operas the company commissioned for its pandemic-constrained 2020-21 season.
• David Menestres – an improvising bassist and bandleader known for his work with the variable ensemble Polyorchard, in addition to being a writer and radio host – announced on Twitter this week that he's donning a new cap: label impresario. The splendidly named Waveform Alphabet will concentrate on "music I like" (within limits), and releases will start rolling out in late October.
• The ARTery, the culture and arts team of Boston public radio station WBUR, has just published The Makers, a multimedia showcase for 15 diverse artists and acts who work in and around Boston, spanning a range of creative pursuits from visual art, music, and theater to pole dancing and motorcycle building. It's a gorgeous display, assembled with smarts and hearts… but please don't take my word for it: go look and listen. Kudos to all involved, including my former Boston Globe teammate Cristela Guerra and my frequent NPR collaborator Andrea Shea.
• Tardy but hearty congratulations to Frank J. Oteri on his appointment to the faculty of Mannes College The New School for Music. In addition to being an inventive composer, Oteri is best known for his globe-spanning advocacy with the American Music Center – now NewMusicUSA – and his work as founding editor of the vital webzine NewMusicBox. At Mannes, Oteri will teach music history and musicology… while continuing to do all the 1,001 other things he's pursuing at any given moment. Cheers to all concerned.
The latest tally of memorable things I stuck in my ears includes releases featuring Christina Vantzou, Michael Harrison and John Also Bennett, claire rousay, Tyshawn Sorey, Maya Bennardo, and plenty more.
Video of the week.
In advance of pianist Sarah Rothenberg participating in the New York premiere of Monochromatic Light (Afterlife) by Tyshawn Sorey at the Park Avenue Armory on Sept. 27, Houston music presenter Da Camera – which presented the work's world premiere at the Rothko Chapel in February – is sharing a live recording of a recital Rothenberg presented at the Menil Collection in May.
In addition to Palais de Mari by Morton Feldman – whose influence consciously permeates Sorey's piece – the recital includes a formidable account of Beethoven's final piano sonata, No. 32 in C minor, and the world premiere of For My Father, a sublime solo composition by Vijay Iyer. That Iyer is a close associate of Sorey's, and that Beethoven was the overt inspiration for at least one Iyer composition (Bridgetower Fantasy), is indicative of the kind of long-view cross-pollination Da Camera has long pursued.
Rothenberg's video is available on demand through Sept. 29. For more on the Monochromatic Light (Afterlife), which will take on new dimensions in its New York iteration, listen to an NPR feature by Anastasia Tsioulcas, and read accounts from Alex Ross in The New Yorker and Zachary Woolfe in The New York Times.
Night After Night Watch.
Concerts listed in Eastern Standard Time.
Battle Trance + Darius Jones, Shahzad Ismaily & Ryan Sawyer
159 Pioneer St., Red Hook
Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 8pm; $25, advance $20
The consistently impressive concert series False Harmonics hosts a "Saxophone Colossus" kind of a night. Improvising composer Travis Laplante and his tenor-sax foursome, Battle Trance, issued an impressive third album, Green of Winter, last month on New Amsterdam. That group is paired with alto saxophonist-composer Darius Jones, multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Ryan Sawyer—an idiosyncratic trio about which Ben Ratliff waxed poetic a decade ago.
Dizzy's Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center
10 Columbus Circle, Midtown West
Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 & 9:30pm; $30-$35, students $20
Livestream tickets $10
Cool With That, issued in June 2021 on the storied free-jazz label ESP-Disk', heralded the arrival of an inside-outside combo that sounded more like a band than an all-star jam, and seemed as if it might win audiences readily on the Lower East and Upper West sides alike. Now, pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Kevin Ray, and drummer Gerald Cleaver welcome a new saxophonist, Scott Robinson, a mercurial NYC veteran whose resume includes work with Chet Baker, Lionel Hampton, Roscoe Mitchell, Maria Schneider, and New York City Opera. (And if you can't make it, you can stream it.)
DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 W. 37th St., Hell's Kitchen
Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 8pm; $20
Satoko Fujii, a prolific Japanese pianist, bandleader, and composer, leads a live session destined to become her 100th album, with a band that includes trumpeters Wadada Leo Smith and "Kappa Maki," saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck, bassist Brandon Lopez, drummers Chris Corsano and Tom Rainey, and the incomparable Ikue Mori on electronics.
International Contemporary Ensemble
Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
425 Lafayette St., Greenwich Village
Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7pm; $20 plus two-drink or $12 food minimum
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker St., Greenwich Village
Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30pm; $25–$30, advance $20–$25
Taka Kigawa, a stellar advocate for contemporary composers, performs Pascal Dusapin's Sept études pour piano.
Concert in the Catacombs
Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th St., Brooklyn
Wednesday, Sept. 21, and Thursday, Sept. 22 at 6:30 & 8pm; $40
Curator Gelsey Bell's summer-long program concludes with a performance by one of the titans of New York City's creative-music scene: improvising bassist, composer, bandleader, poet, and community organizer William Parker, whose elemental rumble is sure to summon spirits and angels in this sanctified setting.
"Glass Houses: Celebrating Philip Glass at 85"
St. John's in the Village
218 W. 11th St., Greenwich Village
Friday, Sept. 23 at 7pm; $15–$20
Neighborhood festival The Village Trip joins forces with composer Victoria Bond's Cutting Edge Concerts to celebrate Philip Glass's 85th birthday—which was in January, but why not? A slate of excellent pianists, including Vicky Chow, Marilyn Nonken, and Adam Tendler, perform works by Glass, paired with music by other composers (including Bond, Ann Southam, Nico Muhly, and Charles Wuorinen) either inspired by or in contrast to the Glass pieces.
Endale Arch, Prospect Park
11 East Dr., Brooklyn
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1pm; free
Culture Lab LIC
5-25 46th Ave., Long Island City
Sunday, Sept. 25 at 3:30pm; free
Contemporary-music collective Ensemble Ipse gives you two opportunities to hear Michael Pisaro-Liu's 100-minute Territorial Refrains – once outdoors in a historic Prospect Park enclosure, and again indoors in a Long Island City gallery. Choose one, or for the full experience, catch them both.
First Unitarian Church
119 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn
Saturday, Sept. 24 at 8pm; $35
Swedish composer-performer Kali Malone, known for her intense minimalist works for pipe organs, brass and wind choirs, and other sonorous sources, makes First Unitarian Church rattle and hum with assistance from Stephen O'Malley.
"The 18th Annual NYC In C"
Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker St., Greenwich Village
Sunday, Sept. 25 at 8pm; $25–$45, advance $20–$40
Long presented by the concert series Darmstadt – and still assembled by composer-performers Nick Hallett and Zach Layton, now joined by Gelsey Bell – this annual affair brings together an ever-shifting ensemble of new-music illuminati for a joyous rendition of Terry Riley's 1964 minimalist watershed.
Find more listings in Night After Night Watch: The Master List, available exclusively to paid subscribers.
(Photographs by the author, except where indicated otherwise.)