7 min read

Begin the begin.

Big things are happening for George Lewis, Zachary Woolfe, James Romig, and more… plus live music picks for the days ahead.
Chelsea, April 7, 2022 (Photograph: Steve Smith)


I intended to send this newsletter out on Tuesday, meaning to ease back into a twice-weekly rhythm on Tuesdays and Fridays, but then events conspired that made that impulse seem not so important. I'm grateful that it appears no one was injured gravely in that morning's frankly terrifying subway attack. At work that day, I mostly watched from the sidelines, energized and humbled by the fast, efficient work my colleagues performed in a striking show of common cause and coordination.

Honestly it's an amazing place to be, at the best and the worst of times.

Last Saturday, I crashed the airwaves for the first time since… well, I'm pretty sure my last radio appearance was in June of 2013, when Soundcheck guest host Erin McKeown invited me on to explain Black Sabbath to her. (Really.)

My return Saturday was instigated by local Weekend Edition host David Furst, who invited me to pick a few items of interest within the vast range of things I'm engaged to monitor. Obviously, the hardest part was choosing just three things to talk about—and limiting myself to only one musical recommendation, possibly because the redoubtable John Schaefer is all over WNYC's airwaves with music picks and tips already.

Here's the archived audio for Your New York City weekend arts planner, which almost certainly is not a final title. (If the player doesn't appear below, here's the landing page on the WNYC website.)

Kim Min-hee in Hong's On the Beach at Night Alone (Photograph courtesy Cinema Guild

Here's what I talked about:

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure, a new show that flirts openly with commercialism, yet sets more than 200 seldom- or never-exhibited Basquiat works within the enriching context of a life, several homes, and a family.

The Hong Sangsoo Multiverse: A Retrospective of Double Features, a Film at Lincoln Center series providing a comprehensive overview of South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo's canon. (I'd previously arranged to have local All Things Considered host Sean Carlson interview Film at Lincoln Center director of programming Dennis Lim about this same series on Friday.)

Wendy Eisenberg: Eye Music, a song cycle inspired by the experience of eye surgery rendering things evident and clear. (I can relate.) Eisenberg presents this newly commissioned work with an improvising sextet at Roulette on Thursday, April 14, at 8pm. If you can't be there in person, you can stream it free of charge—donations are encouraged.

That's a pretty great collection of topics. The radio segment rambles, and could stand to be a lot tighter. I'm sure it will be as David and I find our rhythm. And I hope ever hereafter to avoid using the word quirky, even applied accurately and affectionately, to describe anyone whose work I genuinely and deeply care about.


This week's tally of memorable sounds includes a resurfaced classic by Jamaaladeen Tacuma, new and forthcoming releases by Wet Tuna, Jane Antonia Cornish, and Gabriel Kahane, and quite a lot more. Bend an ear

(Here is a concise explanation of what my weekly playlists actually are.)

Video of the week.

Minds in Flux, a composition for orchestra with live electronics by George E. Lewis, performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Ilan Volkov at the 2021 BBC Proms concerts. Not new, but timely in light of recent developments. (You can flip through the score here.)

Ready to see an American orchestra take this on. C'mon, anybody?

Here is the news.

George E. Lewis (Photograph: London Sinfonietta)

• The aforementioned George E. Lewis – composer, improvising trombonist, interactive-software pioneer, author, and pedagogue – has just been named artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble. It's an exciting development, and a well-earned platform from which Lewis can work at decolonizing the concert-music world. Read more in The New York Times.

• Bowling Green University in Ohio will host the 8th International Conference on Music & Minimalism May 5-8, presented in conjunction with the Society for Minimalist Music. The four-day affair includes concerts by BGSU and University of Michigan performers and ensembles, talks by Ellie Hisama and Tashi Wada, and quite a lot more. There's still time to register.

• Zachary Woolfe, who started contributing to The New York Times as a freelance classical music critic in 2011 and became the newspaper's classical music editor in 2015, has inevitably and rightly been appointed the paper's next classical music critic, taking up the mantle relinquished by Tony Tommasini in December. (I arranged to have Zack interviewed on Sunday during All Things Considered, but it appears that conversation was not archived online.)

• Composer James Romig, whose gorgeous, expansive 2016 piano composition Still was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, has completed a similarly spacious piece for fuzzed-out electric guitar, The Complexity of Distance—commissioned and performed by Mike Scheidt, of Oregon doom-metal trio YOB. A recording by Scheidt is due in June on the New World label.

• Singer, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Kahane played a gorgeous set of songs from recent albums, including his newest, Magnificent Bird, for a Soundcheck Live session at the Greene Space last Thursday. My family enjoyed watching it on our television, and it remains available to stream.

• Bassist Charnett Moffett, the son of drummer Charles Moffett and a seasoned recording artist as a leader and on sessions led by Branford and Wynton Marsalis, Tony Williams, and Sonny Sharrock, died of a sudden heart attack on Monday at age 54. Jim Harrington has the first obituary, in the San Jose Mercury-News.

‌Night After Night Watch‌.

Wendy Eisenberg (Photograph: Michael Rodgers)

Concerts listed in Eastern Standard Time.

Alarm Will Sound
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Ave., Manhattan
Thursday, April 14 at 7:30pm, and Friday, April 15 at 8pm; $45

John Luther Adams designed Ten Thousand Birds, like his earlier Inuksuit, to be performed outdoors in nature. But, as was the case with Inuksuit, the expansive Wade Thompson Drill Hall at the Park Avenue Armory has once again proved an irresistable location to mount an indoor version of this birdsong-besotted piece. If anyone can pull it off, it's Alan Pierson and AWS, who've played the piece already in all kinds of places… even Pierson's apartment.

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Rose Studio, Lincoln Center
165 W. 65th St., 10th floor, Upper West Side
Thursday, April 14 at 7:30pm; $35

Violinist Alexi Kenney, cellist Darrett Adkins, and pianists Gilles Vonsattel and Terrence Wilson perform the New York premiere of Salina Fisher's piano trio Kintsugi, on a program that also includes Julius Eastman's Gay Guerrilla, Clarence Barlow's 1981, and two unaccompanied cello works by Jeffrey Mumford.

Daedalus Quartet
Kosciuszko Foundation
15 E. 65th St., Manhattan
Thursday, April 14 at 8pm; $25, seniors and students $15

In anticipation of composer Fred Lerdahl turning 80 (okay, it's coming in March 2023, but still), the Association for the Promotion of New Music presents the intrepid Daedalus Quartet in the New York premiere of his String Quartet Cycle, a set of three interwoven works lasting 70 minutes.

Wendy Eisenberg: Eye Music
509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
Thursday, April 14 at 8pm; $25, advance $20
Free livestream (donations encouraged)

Described above, in the Prelude section. Eisenberg's band here will include trumpeter Chris Williams, trombonist Zekkereya El-Magharbel, vibraphonist Patricia Brennan: vibraphone, Tyrone Allen on bass, and Booker Stardrum playing drums; Richard Lenz provides improvised projections.

TYGAWPAW (Photograph courtesy Earth Agency)

TYGAPAW: Devil Woman (Obeah Woman)
Chocolate Factory Theater
38-33 24th St., Long Island City
Thursday, April 14 at 8pm; free ($10 suggested donation)

Dion McKenzie, the Jamaica-born, Brooklyn-based DJ and producer better known as TYGAPAW, begins their Issue Project Room residency by presenting the first part of an opera-in-progress exploring the life of a Jamaican hero, Nanny of the Maroons. The excerpt, titled "Dem Nuh Like We an We Nuh Like Dem," features visuals by Alima Lee.

PinkNoise & ASM: lo spazio inverso
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music
58 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn
Friday, April 15 at 7:30pm; $20, students $10

PinkNoise Ensemble and Anti-Social Music join forces to present a seriously formidable evening of improvisation and compositions by Salvatore Sciarrino, Jessie Cox, Clara Iannotta, Catherine Lamb, and Johnna Wu. If you can't attend, catch the free livestream.

Immanuel Wilkins
509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn
Friday, April 15 at 8pm; $25, advance $20
Free livestream (donations encouraged)

Having already released one of the year's strongest albums (The 7th Hand, on Blue Note), Philadelphia saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins presents new music created as part of his year-long Roulette residency. If you can't attend in person, the show will stream live on the Roulette website.

Columbia Composers
DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 W. 37th St., Midtown West
Saturday, April 16 at 7:30pm; free

Members of the International Contemporary Ensemble play new works by Dani Dobkin, Nina Fukuoka, Louis Goldford, Saad Haddad, Uri Kochavi, and Bethany Younge.

Music Mondays
Advent Lutheran Church
2504 Broadway, Upper West Side
Monday, April 18 at 7:30pm; free (reservations recommended)

Violinist and composer Jessie Montgomery spends an evening in the company of her old band, PUBLIQuartet, and her newer duo, big dog little dog (with bassist Eleonore Oppenheim). The program includes plenty of Montgomery originals, plus improvisation and a bit of Astor Piazzolla.

Find more listings in Night After Night Watch: The Master List, available exclusively to paid subscribers.

Bless bless.