To the 940 readers who’ve signed up to receive Night After Night in your mailboxes at least once a week: thank you for looking into what I’m trying to do between freelance assignments. I appreciate the interest, sincerely, and ask that you continue to share the word as you see fit.
To the 190 readers who are paying to support this project, an extra-special thanks. This year has not been kind to or easy for anyone, and I consider myself more fortunate than so many others. But your generosity has helped to make a dark year brighter in a meaningful way. And I remain hard at work, trying to think of subscriber-only bonuses beyond the On the Record master list of upcoming release dates.
To the artists and executives who’ve kept making music and creating art during this most arduous, desperate year: thank you for keeping hope alive. (To those unable to do so: I see you, and I understand. Take care of yourselves.)
And, most of all, to my brilliant wife and amazing daughter: I am beyond grateful to and for you, every moment of every day. I hope that you always know it… even when I’m wearing my deadline scowl.
Now, on with the show…
Here Is the News
- Once upon a time, long ago in a half-forgotten era we used to call “normalcy,” flute genius Claire Chase was scheduled to unveil the seventh installment of Density 2036, her 24-year project meant to bring about a major new flute repertoire, at Queenslab in Ridgewood, under the auspices of The Kitchen. We all know how that turned out. But, with characteristic resourcefulness and determination, Chase and her collaborators have pivoted to video: a Queenslab residency, Dec. 7-18, culminates in an online world premiere for Sex Magic by Australian composer Liza Lim. That piece, for contrabass flute, electronics, and an installation of kinetic percussion, takes up the first hour of the webcast; in the second, Chase and Lim chat with Ara Guzelimian, the former Juilliard School provost and recently returned Ojai Music Festival artistic director, and Chase is joined by other flutists, including Juilliard students and faculty, in selections from the Density 2036 canon. And if that’s still not enough, Chase that same day rolls out four new albums on Chicago’s Corbett vs. Dempsey label – digital first, physical formats to come – documenting much of the music she introduced in Density 2036 programs from 2013 to 2018. Phew. It all happens on Dec. 18 at 7pm; you’ll find details at onscreen.thekitchen.org.
- Another inquisitive, resourceful artist combining an online premiere with a record release is violist and composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, whose newest initiative makes an online splash on Dec. 4. Springing forth from Lanzilotti’s realization that three of the most-played works in the viola repertoire – Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata for Viola and Piano, Ernest Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Piano, and Paul Hindemith’s Viola Sonata in F (Op. 11, No. 4) – were all written in 1919, The 20/19 Project saw Lanzilotti commissioning and premiering three new pieces for 2019: Liquid, Languid by Andrew Norman, Sola by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Lost Anthems by Scott Wollschleger. Now, Sola is the first to arrive on record, coming Dec. 4 on the New Focus label. The digital release includes the 17-minute piece for viola and electronics, along with some 30 minutes of conversation between composer and interpreter about the piece. And, to herald the album’s arrival, Lanzilotti is taking the new Bandcamp live-streaming platform for a test drive, sharing a concert of Thorvaldsdottir’s works and her own original music with cellist Andrew Yee and the piano trio Longleash. The performance begins at 3pm on Dec. 4, and you’ll find details on Lanzilotti’s Bandcamp page.
- Finalists for the 63rd annual Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and – with no disrespect intended toward some very deserving nominees – the classical-music categories once again comprise a slate that leaves me scratching my head. (Composer-performer Missy Mazzoli, a former nominee and current Academy voting member, offered her take via Twitter.) Granted, there were inclusions and omissions far more inexplicable much higher up the list, and significant breakthroughs, as well—Matty Karas breaks it all down with efficiency and insight in this morning’s Music REDEF newsletter. You win some, you lose some… on the one hand, the odious term urban music is banished, at last; on the other, how exactly is global music a great leap forward from world music? For better and for worse, blanket dismissal remains impossible: were I still a voting member, I’d be hard-pressed to choose among the five worthy finalists vying for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, even as I shook my head at the slate for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. Could we ditch Best Improvised Jazz Solo already? And just what exactly is a Classical Compendium? Anyway, it’s tough to predict which projects will win among those nominated, though I certainly have my educated guesses across the board. Now, excuse me while I go investigate for the first time Hannu Lintu’s newest Lutosławski recording—not a bad prospect, whatever the circumstances.
Video of the Week
Mentioning Longleash in the news item about Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s online record-release event (above) reminded me of a very special video the trio made in collaboration with photographer and filmmaker Pascal Perich. This gorgeous, thoughtful realization of Tree/Peace, in which Pauline Oliveros compels performers to imagine the life cycle of a tree, was filmed in New York City and two sites in Kentucky, the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest and the Loretto Motherhouse. Music Academy of the West hosted the video premiere in July, and now this exquisite little film is available for all to see on YouTube. Do yourself a favor: make time to watch.
While we’re on the subject of videos, two of the year’s most significant orchestral performances took place online during the past week: cellist Seth Parker Woods with the Seattle Symphony and conductor David Robertson in the world premiere of For Roscoe Mitchell, by Tyshawn Sorey; and clarinetist Anthony McGill with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conductor Louis Langrée, and Earl Howard on sampling keyboard in You Have the Right to Remain Silent, by Anthony Davis. Both concerts remain online, but neither will be there indefinitely; go here to watch Seattle, which is ticketed, and here for Cincinnati, which is free.
All times listed at Eastern Standard Time.
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2:30pm
Coming up literally moments from now is the video premiere of a brilliant concert the London Sinfonietta presented recently, which I’ve had the pleasure of hearing already via BBC Radio online. Curated by composer, trombonist, and scholar George Lewis and vocalist, composer, and movement artist Elaine Mitchener, the program highlights works by an impressive range of established and rising Black composers, including Jason Yarde, Leila Adu-Gilmore, Hannah Kendall, Tania León, Courtney Bryan, and Lewis himself. It’s all conducted, vividly and beautifully, by Vimbayi Kaziboni, and presumably will remain available. (Free; youtube.com)
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 8pm
Online concerts produced by the Philadelphia Orchestra have been notable for the excellence of the playing, the variety of the repertoire, and – throughout – a welcome sensation of respite. The concert streaming this weekend frankly feels ideal for the occasion, prefacing honor, respect, and triumph with a stark recognition of the costs endured, as Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the orchestra’s first-ever complete performance of Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1, prefaced with Samuel Barber’s gripping Adagio for Strings. If you’re tied up tonight, the concert is available through Sunday, Nov. 29, at 11pm. (Ticketed; philorch.org)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Thursday, Nov. 26, 12pm
In the second offering of a new online season from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conductor Thomas Wilkins leads an all-American program: Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Duke Ellington’s New World A-Coming and Come Sunday, and William Grant Still’s Out of the Silence and the finale from his Symphony No. 4. Pianist Aaron Diehl and storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston are featured, and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players complete the concert with Osvaldo Golijov’s Lullaby and Doina. (Ticketed; bso.org)
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Friday, Nov. 27, 7:30pm
The celebrated composer and bandleader Maria Schneider couldn’t invite friends and family to the Jazz Standard for her customary Thanksgiving run this year, so she’s taking things to the web. You’ll be able to watch live video caught during the band’s runs in July and November of 2019; footage filmed during the making of Schneider’s newest album, the Grammy-nominated Data Lords; and a Zoom gathering among band members. If you can’t watch live, the celebration will be available on-demand through Monday, Nov. 30 at 11am—and, for the duration, Schneider is directing 35 percent of her merchandise sales and 100 percent of “additional support” added at the point of purchase to her band members. (Free; mariaschneider.com)
Bill Ware: The Adventures of Prince Achmed
Monday, Nov. 30, 8pm
Vibraphonist Bill Ware (Jazz Passengers, Groove Collective, Steely Dan) provides live-score accompaniment for a 1926 silent film by Lotte Reiniger, based on One Thousand and One Nights and considered one of the earliest feature-length animated films still in existence. Ware’s band includes the slide-trumpet maestro Steve Bernstein, Sam Bardfeld on violin, Philip Mayer on percussion, and John Murchison on gimbri and bass. (Free; roulette.org)