Conlon Nancarrow with Player Piano.

Contemporary Music Old and New: Out-takes from the Festival of Contemporary Music, 2018

The time-frame of “contemporary music” keeps expanding.  “Modern music” was a term (and the name of an American music magazine) current from the 20’s through ‘40’s, but is still used to refer to music from the 1890’s on.  After the war, we have the beginnings of “contemporary music” with Boulez, Carter, Stockhausen, the Darmstadt composers and the Cage followers who were busy decrying “modern music” as passé.  Since the late sixties when twelve-tone music was periodically declared a dead-end in the pages of the Sunday New York Times and elsewhere, we have had “post-modern” music, which includes “new romanticism.”  Tanglewood has had a “Contemporary Music” festival since 1961, so we can safely say that the “contemporary” era is at least 57 years old.

Inbal Segev talks to Michael Miller about Christopher Rouse’s Cello Concerto, Coming Up February 10 and 11th at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival

Last month I had the pleasure of chatting with Inbal Segev, a young cellist from Israel, who has been making a mark in contemporary music and the classics. She was discovered by Isaac Stern as a high school student in Israel, and he arranged for her to come the United States to study at Yale and Juilliard. On this occasion we talked about her upcoming performance of Christopher Rouse’s cello concerto with the Albany Symphony under David Allan Miller and a very interesting—and successful—contemporary music festival sponsored by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Marin Alsop. It held its inaugural season just last summer.

Vinay Parameswaran leads Festival of Contemporary Music cocurator Jacob Greenberg and Tanglewood Music Center Fellows in Nathan Davis’s “The Sand Reckoner”. Photo Hilary Scott.

Festival of Contemporary Music, August 10-14, 2017

Curated programs were a new and determining feature of Tanglewood’s 2017 Festival of Contemporary Music. In three of the five concerts, repertory and performers were chosen by a performer-curator who selected works by composers with whom they had worked extensively.  Each of the curators, pianist Jacob Greenberg, cellist Kathryn Bates, and violist Nadia Sirota had been at Tanglewood (as part of the New Fromm players) and had developed a significant career in playing and promoting new compositions. The result was a concentration of works by composers of varied backgrounds who are living and working in the United States, and of an age that can be described as “mid-career.” Each curator got to choose one work to be included on the final TMC Orchestra concert.

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