Pretty profoundly disappointed that I didn't get around to compiling a proper newsletter earlier this week, especially seeing as how there's been plenty to discuss… like, say, the splashy, well-attended concert by the major local orchestra, with a big, unorthodox commissioned premiere that more or less went unmentioned. Or that other event, by that smaller orchestra whose two categories of repertoire are new and newer, that didn't get covered at all. Or… well, any number of other events that go unremarked upon altogether, save perhaps for a happy buzz of social-media notices.
Listings for musical events have grown more and more scarce, and that's even more true for shows that concentrate on repertoire that's off the beaten path—though you can still find information if you discover where to look. (Here is a very good site that you should bookmark.) But genuinely important events at major venues are flying under the radar routinely now, which is slightly alarming.
Thoughtful coverage of such events has become even more rare. I sometimes get a feeling that while the musical world is making a robust return from the days of pandemic cancellation and isolation – which absolutely is not to say post-pandemic, which we assuredly are not – media coverage of that awakening scene has yet to match the pace. Or, more worryingly, perhaps media outlets discovered during the long, dark months that they might continue to get by with less.
Whatever the case, this is not going to be a week for deep thoughts… but at a bare minimum, I still can share some of the many interesting announcements and listings that pile up in my inboxes, plural.
And maybe next week I'll discover some secret to maximizing efficiency.
Hope springs eternal.
Here is the news.
• Having just spent my entire prelude complaining about a lack of new-music coverage in the mainstream press, I'd be remiss not to note with an approving roar the New York Times debut of my longtime friend and colleague Anastasia Tsioulcas as the paper's newest freelance music critic. She made her initial splash with a smart report about Everything Rises, the duo project by bass-baritone Davóne Tines and violinist Jennifer Koh, with music by Ken Ueno, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Happily, she'll also continue her invaluable work for NPR.
• Speaking of Davóne Tines, on Tuesday he was featured in an extensive segment on the WNYC midday culture program All of It. Speaking with host Alison Stewart, Tines talked about his new recording of Anthony Davis's X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, his impending New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall debuts (one this Friday, the other a week later), and his upcoming stint as BAM artist-in-residence. You can listen to the segment here. (Kudos to producer Luke Green.)
• In a Wall Street Journal review by Barbara Jepsen covering the newly reopened David Geffen Hall and some of the music played within it during the first few weeks (though not that one piece, uh-uhh), the most surprising line was the one that came after the review:
Ms. Jepson, who is retiring as a music reviewer, has written about classical concerts, recordings and musicians for the Journal since 1983
Sincere congratulations to Barbara, a distinguished writer and valued colleague whose contributions to the discipline go far beyond what's appeared on any given page of newsprint. What the WSJ will do about classical music coverage (apart from opera, still covered with distinction by Heidi Waleson) is anyone's guess.
• The Museum of Modern Art has announced a robust lineup of sound- and music-oriented programs in 2023, including an especially tantalizing project next September involving electronic-music trailblazer Suzanne Ciani paired with contemporary composer and sound artist Sarah Davachi. Before then, a brief February series presented in conjunction with the vital current exhibition Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces will include a solo project by vocalist Alva Rogers and a Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris-style conduction led by Vernon Reid.
• Composer and performer Molly Joyce is set to release Perspective, her third recording for the New Amsterdam label, this Friday, Oct. 28, in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
In a blog post for Americans for the Arts, Joyce set the stage for the project:
At the age of seven, I was involved in a car accident that nearly amputated my left hand. Since the accident, I have journeyed from denying my disability to embracing it. With this progression, I have frequently rethought concepts that are considered critical to what disability is and can mean, such as being weak, helpless, and incurable.
Joyce's new album documents a project that involved her interviewing a wide variety of people living with disabilities about their views of notions like access, control, weakness, interdependence, and resilience. The result is arrestingly original and thoroughly inspiring.
• A third 4CD box devoted to John Zorn's Bagatelles, the collection of 300 pieces Zorn composed between March and May of 2015, is available now for pre-order in standard and autographed editions due to start shipping next week. The new set emphasizes guitars: Marc Ribot, Julian Lage, Gyan Riley, Jonathan Goldberger, Keisuke Matsuno, and Matt Hollenberg are among the players featured.
• Coming in November on The Criterion Channel, the streaming premium film service operated by The Criterion Collection, is a 12-film series devoted to free jazz. Alongside familiar staples like Space Is the Place, Imagine the Sound, and Ornette: Made in America and newer titles like Milford Graves Full Mantis and Fire Music are some rarer issues, including Rising Tones Cross, Ebba Jahn's 1985 portrait of the downtown scene that gave rise to the Vision Festival, and Les stances à Sophie, a 1971 film by Moshé Mizrahi likely most famous for its brash soundtrack by the Art Ensemble of Chicago with Fontella Bass.
The latest tally of memorable things that got stuck in my ears includes recent and upcoming releases featuring Clarice Jensen, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sophia Subbayya Vastek, Jürg Frey, and plenty more.
Read more here.
Video of the week.
I didn't pay enough attention to A Place to Begin, an album of contemplative electroacoustic chamber music by Brooklyn composer, multi-instrumentalist, and filmmaker Peter Coccoma, when it came out back in May. But I've been lured in since through a series of dreamy videos Coccoma made with cellist Clarice Jensen, who's on the album, and other members of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME). "An Invitation" is the newest clip, but do treat yourself to all three selections in this playlist.
Night After Night Watch.
Concerts listed in Eastern Standard Time.
Robert Ashley: Automatic Writing
579 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn
Wednesday, Oct. 26–Saturday, Oct. 29 at 7pm; Sunday, Oct. 30 at 5pm; $15–$30
The anarchic music-theater/performance-art troupe Object Collection revives and revises its groundbreaking 2011 production of Robert Ashley's 1979 studio album, adapted for live performance by Travis Just and Kara Feely.
Scholes Street Studio
375 Lorimer St., Brooklyn
Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7pm; $15
The memorably named duo of soprano Anna Elder and flutist Sarah Steranka performs acoustic and electroacoustic works by Rebecca Saunders, Erin Rogers, Georges Aperghis, Brittany J. Green, Hannah Selin, and Luciano Berio.
Church of the Intercession
550 W. 155th St., Hamilton Heights
Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30pm; $20, seniors and students $15
The reliably groundbreaking vocal sextet offers what it describes plainspokenly as "colorful and microtonal works," including a world premiere by Frank J. Oteri alongside new and recent pieces from Younghi Pagh-Paan, Feliz Anne Reyes Macahis, Laura Steenberge, Nomi Epstein, Rebecca Bruton, and Erin Gee.
Ensemble members join forces with string quartet The Rhythm Method for premieres by Lewis Nielson and Kevin Ramsay, along with further works by Rhythm Method cellist Meaghan Burke, Yaz Lancaster, and Anahita Abbasi.
150 Convent Ave., Harlem
Friday, Oct. 28 & Sat., Oct. 29 at 7:30pm; $25–$35
Open House Weekend
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Midtown Manhattan
Saturday, Oct. 29, and Sunday, Oct. 30, all day; free admission
The two-day free celebration opening up the various performance spaces in and around "Your New David Geffen Hall" to everyone includes loads of musical artists among its myriad offerings; you can catch everyone from Justin Vivian Bond to Kermit the Frog, or maybe that's the other way around. And from a starting set by Anthony McGill and Jennifer Koh playing music by Steve Reich at 10 a.m. Saturday, new-music cognoscenti will find appealing options from Sō Percussion, Bora Yoon and R. Luke Dubois, thingNY, and Hotel Elefant. (There's a detailed schedule here.)
341 Calyer St, Brooklyn
Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 7:30pm; $10
Melinda Faylor, previously curator of the late, lamented Brooklyn arts space Areté Gallery, now occasionally books concerts at Mise-En Place, a cozy space located off an undistinguished stretch of road between here and there in BK. Up next: the kinetic sax-guitar-piano-percussion quartet Hypercube, playing music by Seong Ae Kim, Michael Fiday, and participants from the 2022 Hypercube Composition Lab.
Find more listings in Night After Night Watch: The Master List, available exclusively to paid subscribers.
(Photographs by the author, except where indicated otherwise.)