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NYT: Composers’ collectives offer creativity and challenges

Composition Collective Sleeping Giant

Composition Collective Sleeping Giant

The New York Times | By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim

The cellist Ashley Bathgate took her bow at Le Poisson Rouge last Tuesday after the premiere of “Ash,” an evening-long work inspired by Bach’s six suites for solo cello. Then she squinted into the dimmed nightclub and made the usual hand motion of a performer beckoning the composer to share in the applause.

But Ms. Bathgate’s gesture did not just bring out a composer: It sparked a procession of dark-clothed men in their 30s who ascended the stage and lined up, smiling, behind her like a genial security detail. The men belonged to Sleeping Giant, the composers’ collective that produced “Ash” and comprises six members: Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Ted Hearne, Robert Honstein and Andrew Norman.

The men met as students at Yale University and dispersed to different corners of the country, each making an individual mark on the new-music scene. But for works like “Ash,” which Ms. Bathgate commissioned under the working title “Bach Unwound,” the composers come together, in gargantuan email chains and in Google Hangout sessions lasting hours, to collaborate on multi-movement pieces that seek to preserve their own voices within a common dramatic arc. MORE

Published January 17, 2016
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Review: Matthew Welch Offers Ethereal Chamber Music at the Stone

welch_matt_webThe New York Times | By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim

The music of Matthew Welch, who began a weeklong residency at the Stone on Tuesday, draws on a world of influences. His opening set, performed by the ensemble Cantata Profana, packed in references to Highland bagpipes, Balinese funerary rites, Minimalism, Borges, Beckett and Buddha. Yet much of the resulting chamber music is exquisitely ethereal, made up of delicate, transparent textures that hum with expressive tension. If Mr. Welch were a chef, he’d be the kind who pushes the boundaries of molecular gastronomy, transforming earthy ingredients into translucent beads of pure flavor.

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Published December 18, 2015
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NYT: David Lang Strives for an Unusually Emotional Melody

David Lang, composer

David Lang, composer

The New York Times | By Rachel Donadio

“Youth,” the first feature film by Paolo Sorrentino since his Academy Award-winning ode to Rome, “The Great Beauty,” stars Michael Caine as Fred Ballinger, an aging composer passing time at an Alpine resort and reflecting on his life. Much of the drama hinges on whether he will conduct a concert of a work that made him famous, his “Simple Song #3,” inextricably linked in his mind to an irrecoverable past.

To score the film — and to write “Simple Song #3” — Mr. Sorrentino turned to David Lang, the celebrated new-music composer, based in New York, whose work has been described as post-Minimalist.

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Published December 14, 2015
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Alumni appear in NYT’s Best Classical Music of 2015 list

David Kaplan | Photo by Samantha West

David Kaplan | Photo by Samantha West

When the classical music team of The New York Times shared its picks for the best performances of the year, several alumni of the Yale School of Music made the list.

Performers include the pianist David Kaplan ’07 MM, ’08 MMA, ’14 DMA, and the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, directed by Brad Wells ’98 MM, ’05 DMA. Among the ensemble’s members are Estelí Gomez ’08 BA, Caroline Shaw ’07 MM, Eric Dudley ’03 MM, ’04 MMA, ’11 DMA, Dashon Burton ’11 MM, and Virginia Warnken ’13 MM.

Composers mentioned include Shaw, Dudley, Missy Mazzoli ’06 MM, and Ted Hearne ’08 MM, ’09 MMA. Below are excerpts from the article. MORE

Published December 10, 2015
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A Composer Opens Up Her Creative Process, Online

The New York Times | Phillip LutzHannah Lash, composition faculty

As a professor at the Yale School of Music and a working harpist, Hannah Lash enjoys plenty of interaction with students, colleagues and the public. But when it comes time to compose, she typically holes up in her New Haven home late at night and keeps to herself.

“The creative process needs to be protected,” she said, “on a level where you create a membrane around yourself when you’re writing that’s impenetrable.”

So it is all the more remarkable that as she writes her first symphony, Ms. Lash, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s new composer-in-residence, will be shining a light on the work in progress, inviting comment on social media and in live forums. MORE

Published September 30, 2015
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Gunther Schuller Dies at 89; taught at Yale in 1960s

schuller_guntherNew York Times | By Allan Kozinn

Gunther Schuller, a composer, conductor, author and teacher who coined the term Third Stream to describe music that drew on the forms and resources of both classical and jazz, and who was its most important composer, died on Sunday in Boston. He was 89.

The cause was complications of leukemia, said his personal assistant, Jennique Horrigan.

Mr. Schuller, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral work “Of Reminiscences and Reflections” in 1994, was partial to the 12-tone methods of the Second Viennese School, but he was not inextricably bound to them. Always fascinated by jazz, he wrote arrangements as well as compositions for several jazz artists, most notably the Modern Jazz Quartet. Several of his scores — among them the Concertino (1958) for jazz quartet and orchestra, the “Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee” (1959) and an opera, “The Visitation” (1966) — used aspects of his Third Stream aesthetic, though usually with contemporary classical influences dominating. MORE

Published June 21, 2015
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New York Times notes passing of Ezra Laderman

laderman-bwNew York Times | By Margalit Fox

Ezra Laderman, an American composer who became widely known for his 1993 opera, “Marilyn,” which chronicled the waning days of Marilyn Monroe, died on Saturday at his home in New Haven. He was 90.

His death was announced by the Yale School of Music, where he was an emeritus professor and a former dean.

Mr. Laderman was a prolific composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, as well as a bevy of works for traditionally neglected instruments like the viola and the bassoon. But on account of its subject matter, it was “Marilyn,” commissioned to honor the 50th anniversary of the New York City Opera, that made him known to the general public. MORE

Published March 5, 2015
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New York Times on Willie Ruff

Willie Ruff, the French horn player and double bassist, enjoyed a celebrated musical partnership with the pianist Dwike Mitchell that, over more than half a century, took him to stages around the world, from the segregated South to Communist China to Town Hall in Manhattan. It was a long and winding road that ended with Mr. Mitchell’s death in April 2013.

Since then, Mr. Ruff, 83, said, he has been on a hiatus from playing in public. Aside from that, however, he has not slowed down much.

Sitting in his small studio at the Yale School of Music, where as a faculty member he has been a kind of emissary from the jazz world for four decades, Mr. Ruff spoke recently about projects he is pursuing and loose ends he wants to tie up. MORE

Published March 2, 2015
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Not Your Typical School Productions: Music Students Play Major Role in NY Culture

Soldier's Tale photo

Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale,” presented by the Yale in New York series at Carnegie Hall in April 2014

New York Times | By Anthony Tommasini

With the demise of the New York City Opera in 2013, New York was left with one major — very major — opera company. Still, for all its might, the Metropolitan Opera can’t do everything. There were growing calls from critics and many hopeful opera fans for adventurous smaller companies in the city, like Gotham Chamber Opera and Beth Morrison Projects, to step unto the breach and do more.

Yet there have long been other players on the field doing more, and not just in opera: the conservatories and music schools in the city, along with the music departments at universities where the performing arts really matter. In cities across the United States, these institutions are hotbeds of opera, symphonic concerts and chamber music.… MORE

Published December 22, 2014
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NYT: For John Adams, a Day of Music, Not Protests

New York Times | By Anthony Tommasini

About 24 hours before protests organized by various Jewish groups against the Metropolitan Opera’s production of John Adams’s “The Death of Klinghoffer” were anticipated to start at Lincoln Center, Mr. Adams was at Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday afternoon, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale in a terrific concert.

There were no protests or disruptions of any kind on Sunday.

With this performance, part of the Yale in New York series, Mr. Adams wound up a week’s residency at the Yale School of Music, where he worked with students and prepared this concert, a program of Stravinsky’s “Orpheus,” Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and his own 2012 piece, “Absolute Jest.” MORE

Published October 21, 2014
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