All posts by dgilliam

Path of Miracles

Next weekend, The Singers, directed by Matt Culloton, will perform a monumental work called Path of Miracles by Joby Talbot.

It’s rare to hear an hour-long composition for a cappella choir (there is a little percussion, played by the choristers). Talbot’s four-movement opus takes us on a literal journey: recounting the medieval pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, by way of Roncesvalles (in the foothills of the Pyrennees), Burgos and Leon. The choir sings in various languages, with a libretto by Robert Dickinson inspired by reflections of the pilgrimage juxtaposed with extant mediaeval texts.

Listen below to Joby Talbot’s interview with WNYC’s John Schaefer for his New Sounds program.

Maria Schneider on Overcoming Writer's Block

Maria Schneider is my first guest on the Composer Conversation Series. This Grammy-winning composer, originally from Windom, Minnesota, has worked in jazz and classical, and has worked with musicians Dawn Upshaw, Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra and Kronos Quartet, among others. Join my on September 28 at 2pm here at MPR. It’s a free event, but reservations required.

How does Maria Schneider overcome writer’s block?

Cage Apps

John Cage

September 5, 2012 marks the John Cage centennary. His contributions to music are remarkable, oft misunderstood and always captivating. One aspect of Cage’s work I’ve always admired, is that anyone can perform something of his.

Now you can perform John Cage in the comfort (and safety) of your iPhone or tablet, with these two apps:

Developer Joseph Genden and Third Coast Percussion have released an app for the iPhone that allows you to perform Cage’s Quartet. You can choose from the percussion instruments called for in the score, and perform your own version with digitized samples.

The official John Cage site has released an app for mobile and tablet, giving you fingertip access to the sounds of Cage’s Prepared Piano. There is a free version, with access to more sounds and features in the paid version.

From Brooklyn to Stillwater

The string quartet Brooklyn Rider makes it back to Stillwater once a year for their Stillwater Music Festival (of which they are Artistic Directors) to present several concerts at The Washington County Historic Courthouse, the Stillwater Public Library and one show at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The complete schedule is available here. Of note are the concerts with kemancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor, Bela Fleck and the free family concert. World premieres abound during the festival.

Brooklyn Rider from Musical Instrument Museum on Vimeo.

Hearing Mozart for the First Time

Right now on Cedar Street, outside my office window, several large machines are installing light rail infrastructure. It’s not a quiet process. There are days when an incessant pounding becomes the canvas for any music or conversations. I’ve learned to ignore it. In fact, when there is silence, it seems abnormal and rude. All of this prefaces my reaction to this story by “Austin,” who, with advances in technology, has new hearing aides that have allowed him to hear music for the first time.

After listening to everything from Mozart to Sigur Ros, this piece moved Austin to tears:

Mozart – Requiem – Lacrimosa from floriploiesteanu on Vimeo.

Imagine hearing Mozart for the first time.

Sellar Stages Bach

I don’t know how I missed this back in April, but thanks to Fresh Air for their feature on Tuesday reviewing the latest production of Peter Sellars.

A new DVD has been released of The Berlin Philharmonic, Simon Rattle, Mark Padmore, Camilla Tilling and Thomas Quasthoff along with several choirs, performing a semi-staged production of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Sellars is known for staging operas in unusual venues, from Handel’s Orlando in space to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in a luxury New York apartment. He’s collaborated with John Adams and Kaija Saariaho. And who could forget his role as Dr. Ohara in the TV series Miami Vice.