June 6, 2013 |
Lou Harrison, the quintessential California composer -- vastly eclectic, Pacific-Rim-prescient, prolific maverick, visionary, seeker or pleasure and profundity -- liked to describe his musical interests by saying he spread his toys over a wide acreage. The 67th annual Ojai Festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday, focuses on Harrison (who died in 2003) and his world thanks to the efforts of choreographer Mark Morris, long a Harrison champion and this year's unusual choice for music director.
April 29, 2013 |
Jacaranda, the Santa Monica new music series, began its current season in September with a significant contribution to the local ad hoc celebrations of the 100th anniversary of John Cage's birth that month. It is now ending the season with a significant contribution to "Britten 100/LA," the citywide festival celebrating the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten's birth later this year. These are not obvious bookends. There is little to connect the composers - one a leader of the American avant-garde, the other the first British composer to accept a life peerage - who had no regard for each other, musically or otherwise.
April 24, 2013 |
An authority on Euripides, Christian Wolff is a retired professor of Greek and Latin classics (along with Marxist literature), having taught at Harvard and Dartmouth for many years. He is also one of America's most unpredictable, most venturesome, most radical (politically and compositionally), most inventive, most satisfying (intellectually, aesthetically and musically) and, at 79, least recognized (at least by America's musical establishment) living composers. In addition to all that, he happens to be the last living musical link to the New York School of composers and artists who gathered around John Cage in the 1950s.
February 25, 2013 |
Southwest Chamber Music's 2013 L.A. International New Music Festival, in progress at the Colburn School's Zipper Concert Hall, is doing its attentive bit to broaden international musical relations. We hear too little music from Mexican, Korean or even Venezuelan composers. America and Germany lost its two greatest senior composers - Elliott Carter and Hans Werner Henze - late last year, but they have been long lost on the West Coast, where they remain ignored. Thankfully in such matters, Southwest can serve as an indispensable diplomat.
February 18, 2013 |
Yoko Ono gets a bad rap. She's the one who broke up the Beatles, who pushed John Lennon into baking bread. Except, of course, it's much more complicated than that. Ono was already an established avant-gardist when she met Lennon, famously, at London's Indica Gallery in 1966; inspired by John Cage , she worked with the Fluxus group in New York in the early 1960s and collaborated with experimental composer La Monte Young . Among her work from this period is “Cut Piece,” a participatory bit of performance art in which Ono came on stage in a loose shift and encouraged audience members to cut the garment off her piece by piece.
February 15, 2013 |
On the last page of an expensively printed and eloquently annotated program book for a groundbreaking John Cage festival last weekend by Miami's New World Symphony was a quote from the president of the Knight Foundation, the festival's largest sponsor. "The first time I heard John Cage's music," Alberto Ibargüen wrote, "I realized anything was possible. " Maybe so, beginning with the surprise of finding such a remarkable statement about music from the president of a major foundation.