Living in Boston puts me in the middle of a vibrant stew of music. The greater Boston area has more music venues, more musicians, more music schools than any place else in the world. (I made that up, but it could be true. It certainly feels like it.)
What this shows me about music being made by working musicians is that it defies categories. A great example of this was a concert at Ryles Jazz Club the other evening by the Ludovica String Quartet. The leader, Ludovica Burtone, is an accomplished Italian classical violinist who came here to Berklee to study jazz composition. (Just that combination is an example of this stew I’m talking about.)
The competition for slots in venues like Ryles guarantees high caliber performance, but nothing guarantees magic. For that you have to be lucky. I was lucky that evening.
Or maybe skillful. I was there for a reason. I’d heard the LSQ before and knew what to expect. Burtone’s aggressive mix of tango, jazz, Italian folk song, and her own compositions gave me what I’d come for. Each piece satisfied in a different way, then everything came together in Blazing Sun, a piece Burtone wrote while a student at Berklee, that pours all her influences into deep jazz in 7/4 time. And 3/4. And 4/4. LSQ’s music doesn’t stay still.
A few clicks around this blog will tell you I’m nuts about new music. I’m fortunate to have a cousin, Elisabeth Halliday, in the thick of it. She introduces me to stuff I might never hear otherwise. She is a soprano, and she sings with Rhymes with Opera, a chamber opera company dedicated to performing experimental vocal music. (RwO is two sopranos, a baritone, and two composers–how cool is it for an opera company to have its own composers? Two of them!) Continue reading →
During the last two or three weeks I’ve submerged myself in the music of Morton Feldman, music so simple and sere that I found it hard to listen to anything else. Old MacDonald was too melodically complex, forget Mozart.
Then I stopped by one of my favorite blogs–Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s The Rambler (linked in my blog list to the right, but until now, with a bad URL – sorry). There I read, “It really feels like we’re coming to the end, Aldo Clementi, the last of that extraordinary generation of post-war Italian composers . . . has died at the age of 86.” I’m embarrassed to say, I’d never heard of him. Continue reading →
I apologize in advance for this. It’s one of the posts you probably should skip. It has nothing to do with music and is only here because I want to say it and I have a blog so nyah, nyah, nyah, I get to say it. It smacks of language policing. It’s probably not nearly as amusing as I think it is. And on top of that, it happened because I was reading about the tragic earthquake in New Zealand, so it’s slightly callous as well.
I’ve been gestating a piece about the greatest composer of the Twentieth Century for over a month. I’m still not halfway to understanding what I want to say about him. Since I have to post something to meet my commitment to keep this blog active, I’ve decided to give you some samples of the music I’m thinking about. Continue reading →
I find it very hard to define or characterize the work of the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. I spent a long time reading descriptions of it from all over the web trying to find something that fit the music I know that I could share with you here . Then I realized — d’oh! — I don’t need a description. I’ve got the music.
Here’s a taste:
(That was the opening of Notalghia, performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra directed by Hiroyuki Iwaki, Michael Dauth solo violin)
Even the newest convert to classical music is likely to agree: Bach rules!
Right now I have the Goldberg Variations on in the background. I feel a little guilty using such great music as the accompaniment to my life, but I often pause and notice particular phrases, stop for a minute and listen to a passage.
Nonetheless, I wish I spent more time actually listening. I regularly resolve to do that (and then forget). But this post gives me an excuse to pay attention right now. And you can do it with me.
This blog is about music and me -- what I love and what I've learned.
I'm a musical amateur in the French sense of ‘lover of.’ But I’ve been listening deeply, passionately, and, I hope, intelligently for about 50 years and have discovered music and noticed things about it that people with ears and passion like mine might be happy to hear about.
[I’m Charles Thiesen, a writer (tech, journalism, novels, flash fiction). I live in a vegetarian co‐op house in Dorchester, MA with a cat and six other housemates only one of whom is my partner.]