Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Target" Nominated for 2 Awards

Keeril Makan's "Target" CD on Starkland has been nominated for the 2012 Independent Music Awards both for Best Contemporary Classical Album and for Thomas Steenland for Best Album Art. Judges for the Final Winners will include Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Joshua Redman, Tori Amos, and Ozzy Osbourne. Winners will be announced in April.

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The rising-star Makan has been described as “an arrestingly gifted young American composer” by The New Yorker. The Pulitzer-winning composer David Lang has remarked that when he first heard Makan’s music he was “blown away” by works that were “so strong and so smart.”

The CD has received some impressive reviews:

"Approachable and mesmerizing... 
captivating and engrossing."
- Sequenza21

"A sound world in which music emerges unexpectedly 
out of violent textures, gestures and cries."
- Gramophone

"Delivers a whollop of powerful emotional content... 
the recording is of excellent quality."
- New Music Box

"A composer that is destined for greatness, 
and this recording is proof of that."
- Chamber Musician Today

The "one-man army" Tom Steenland serves as Executive Director of Starkland, has designed most of the label's booklets and packaging, and has mastered many of the releases as well.

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Independent Music Award Nominees Thomas Steenland (L) and Keeril Makan

Starkland's full catalog can be found here.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Other Minds 2012

The Other Minds 2012 Festival continued its tradition of presenting diverse and unexpected new music. Some highlights for me included:
  • Simon Steen-Andersen's Study for String Instrument #2 for cello and whammy pedal;
  • Gloria Coates' distinctive, otherworldly String Quartet No. 5 in a steely, committed performance by the Del Sol String Quartet;
  • Harold Budd's attractive It's Only a Daydream performed with the fine bassist Keith Lowe;
  • The rich, sophisticated sounds emerging from Ikue Mori's laptop; one wished for more of her and much less of the long group improv that followed;
  • John Kennedy's rhythmically engaging First Deconstruction (in Plastic) for various recycled objects, such as joint compound buckets, water bottles, yogurt containers, salad bar boxes, etc.;
  • Tyshawn Sorey's varied drum set improv, followed by his shift across the stage to perform an accomplished, imaginative, atonal piano improv (not something you see everyday);
  • Ken Ueno's Peradam with his effective string quartet music (performed by Del Sol) coupled with some sophisticated video created in real-time by video wizard Johnny Dekam.
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L to R: Charles Amirkhanian, Harold Budd, Gloria Coates, Ikue Mori, Tyshawn Sorey

A special attraction of these concerts is that the audience, performers, and composers gather afterwards in the lobby to sip champagne, discuss the new music we've heard, etc. A great idea which I hope continues.

In the Fellowship Concert, which preceded the 3 main concerts and featured emerging composers, I especially liked: Peter Swendsen's Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is for bass drum and digital enhancements; and Jen Wang's Renderings of Things We Couldn't Take Home which uses the apparently uncommon technique of playing tam-tams etc. with tremolo bowing. A sprinkling of John Cage garnished this concert, all of which was expertly and sensitively performed by Rootstock Percussion.