Saturday, January 17, 2015
New Music Gathering Day 1: Brooklyn
A remarkable event was born this week in San Francisco. Called the New Music Gathering, it is a three-day conference that features panels, lectures, concerts, and cross-pollination between East and West Coast composers and performers, and everything outside and in between. The event was organized by the four Brooklyn-based composers/performers above: Daniel Felsenfeld, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Lainie Fefferman, and Matt Marks.
The first evening's concert on Thursday was devoted to mostly New York performers, headed by flutist Claire Chase who just received a MacArthur Award a couple of years ago. With some of the loot from that award, the performer is determined to commission a whole new solo flute repertory with 100 pieces by 2036. On Thursday she played two solos by Felipe Lara, pieces augmented with electronics by George Lewis, Mario Diaz de Leon, and Du Yun, and ended with Edgar Varese's Density 21.5 which fit in seamlessly.
She was followed by BRIM, led by Eve Beglarian above, a composer/performer who is writing a long musical cycle devoted to the Mississippi River which she just finished rowing/kayaking.
She was joined by the phenomenal violinist Mary Rowell, who has played with everyone and everywhere, including as concertmaster of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, and the local electric guitarist Giacamo Fiore who read a DaVinci quote with the proper Italian accent it required. The three songs they performed were lovely and absorbing, a mixture of electronics, acoustics and occasional vocals.
Then Rachel Beetz and Jennifer Bewerce of Autoduplicity offered a short sampler from their "body music" concert which is taking place this Monday at the Center for New Music. They performed something called ?Corperel by Vinko Globokar, and it involved lots of rubbing and clapping and thumping on their own bodies.
Estrogen was replaced by raging testosterone with the next performers, Blarvuster, led by composer/performer Matthew Welch on sax, bagpipes and vocals above, with the wildly energetic Will Northlich-Redmond on electric guitar, Jordan Glenn on drums, and Aaron Germain on bass below. They played a long piece called The Finger Lock that was loud, jazzy, and thoroughly entertaining, particularly when Welch vocalized in some unknown language and then trooped around the auditorium playing his bagpipe while the band rocked out onstage.
The special pleasure of this and the following concerts I've attended is that not only are the participants some of the most interesting musicians in the world right now, but the attendees are mostly fellow composers, performers and students rather than the usual press gang and audiences waiting to be amused. There's a final "marathon" of concerts this Saturday evening at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, which is highly recommended. You can then brag that you were at The First New Music Gathering years from now.