Hello! Last month was Igor Stravinsky’s 129th birthday. Were the legendary Russian composer alive today, well, he’d probably be kept under constant watch, donned in thin layers of radiation-resistant cloth, and many layers of glass. But were he functional, he’d likely be pretty curious about an event happening this summer in the Bay Area. In short, we’d like to formally announce a new recording of his classic Les Noces (The Wedding), and two performances that will be among the most unique and inspired recreations of the work.
Here’s all the info about our Stravinsky cover thing!
NEW RECORDING of LES NOCES
LES NOCES (2011)
Produced by Dominique Leone
Kanoko Nishi, Regina Schaffer: pianos
Nicole Ginelli (http://www.nicoleginelli.com/): cover art
ABOUT LES NOCES
Stravinsky (1882-1971) composed his ballet Les Noces (“The Wedding”) during 1913-1917, and as with The Rite of Spring, Petrushka and The Firebird, premiered it with the Ballets Russes group and choreography by Bronislava Nijinska. Its “story” is but scenes from a typical Russian wedding, with characters such as the bride, groom and surrounding family fretting about the event, and each other.
Unlike the composer’s previous works, Les Noces was originally realized through a decidedly non-symphonic arrangement of four pianos, percussion, and a vocal ensemble of four soloists and chorus. Stripped down to these most basic elements, the intensity of Stravinsky’s composition shines through like a razor-sharp beacon. Rhythms pound furiously, vocal lines criss-cross before the storm of percussion and pianos lest they be flattened by the fiery stomp. Les Noces is often considered the last great piece of Stravinsky’s “Russian” period, before the composer dove into other idioms, such as neo-classicism and 12-tone music.
Another interesting aspect of Les Noces is that before deciding on his four-piano arrangement, Stravinsky had ideas of using the “pianola”, a mechanical piano that could play pre-recorded music via metallic rolls. Indeed, the pianola was closer to modern-day sequencer/synthesizer in that its player could record parts that were unplayable by a human being. As a composer, Stravinsky was naturally attracted to the instrument as a tool for composition and performance. Pierre Boulez premiered a version of the score using pianola in 1981, and though the definitive 1923 score with four pianos is the one most often performed today, it is easy to hear the multi-layered genius at work in the piece and imagine the possibilities off pulling it off with something rather less than a full-size orchestra and chorus.
ABOUT THE NEW RECORDING
Enter Dominique Leone, Kanoko Nishi and Regina Schaffer. With only two pianos, one singer and a computer, their Les Noces is realized as forcefully and true to its spirit as any prior recording. And note: this is no “redux” or re-imagining of the piece. Leone, Nishi and Schaffer have stayed entirely true to the score, but simplifying four pianos down to two, and with Leone singing all vocal parts with just a little help from a single pitch-shifter for soprano and bass parts. This is as inspired and magnificently irreverent performance of Stravinsky’s work as has ever been created—but don’t take our word for it, check the link!
The Maybeck House will host Les Noces on July 29 and 30, 2011 at 8 p.m.
ABOUT YOUR DONATIONS
All the money donated will go toward production costs (everything ranging from music copying to promotional materials to recording and equipment) and performer fees.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
Dominique Leone is a composer and performer based in San Francisco. He regularly performs in the Bay Area, leading his own band, as well as playing with artists such as William Winant, Matmos, Wobbly, San Francisco Contemporary Players, Kevin Blechdom, Lindstrom, Mungolian Jetset, Aaron Novik, Ava Mendoza, Jordan Glenn, Matt Ingalls and many others. He received his BA in Music Performance from Texas Tech University, and has contributed writings about music to Pitchfork, All-Music Guide and others. His music has been released on Feedelity, Stromland and Important. And contrary to popular belief, he is not a hot French chick. http://www.dominiqueleone.com
Kanoko Nishi is a performer currently based in SF/Bay Area. Though classically trained on piano, her recent interest has primarily been in performing 20th century and Contemporary musical compositions for piano as well as for koto (Japanese 13-string zither), and free-improvisation in various different contexts. She has performed a number of compositions, including premiers, most recently by contemporary composers Hyo-shin Na, Young Ja Lee, Zachary Watkins, among others. As an improviser, she has also collaborated intensively with dancers, Paige Sorvillo, Yuko Kaseki, Sherwood Chen, Isak Immanuel, poets Ito Hiromi and Dennis Somera, and countless musicians both in the Bay Area and abroad, such as Jacob Felix Heule, Theresa Wong, Maryclare Brzytwa, Shayna Dunkelman, Aram Shelton, to name a very few. She received a BA in music performance from Mills College in 2006 and the works of her teachers, Fred Frith, Joelle Leandre, and Kazue Sawai, have all deeply inspired her approach to her instruments and improvisation. http://www.myspace.com/kanokonishi
Regina Schaffer performs around the Bay Area as a soloist, accompanist and ensemble member. She is currently a performer with the concert series New Keys; newfangled music for piano (www.newkeysconcert.org). She has been teaching piano privately since 1997 to students of all ages and levels. She received her Bachelor's degree in piano performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she studied with Mack McCray and her Master's degree in piano performance and literature from Mills College where she focused on new music. www.reginaschaffer.com
Kate McLoughlin completed a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) in 2004. A native of Vermont, she has lived in Oakland since 2004. She's the assistant conductor of the Berkeley Youth Orchestra and the associate conductor of the Oakland Civic Orchestra. As a bassoonist, she has focused on new music, performing at the University of California's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) in Berkeley, and previously with The Group of the Electronic Music Studio and Montreal's Ensemble KORE. She currently plays bassoon with Jack O' The Clock, a majestic junk folk band whose sound can be described as a "jangly mix of concert- hall agility, acoustic rock drive, and junk shop scouring." http://jackotheclock.com
Soprano Diana Pray specializes in early, Baroque, and modern music, and makes her recital and choral career with groups including American Bach Soloists and SF Renaissance Voices and cantors at St. Ignatius Church. Miss Pray made her Redwood Symphony debut in Steve Reich’s Tehillim and charmed Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra audiences as the soprano Angel in Schütz’s Weinachtshistorie. Bay Area opera roles include Handel’s Bellezza and Atlanta, Purcell’s Cupid, and Menotti’s Lucy. On the grand stage, those with keen eyes have enjoyed her portrayals of various peasants in the San Francisco Opera Chorus. A feature of many of San Francisco’s special events, Miss Pray has brought classical song to audiences at the York Hotel Plush Room, the Julia Morgan Ballroom, and the Asian Art Museum. In recent years she has delved musically into her Hungarian heritage, joining the concerts of instrument makers and ethnomusicologists Ferenc Tobák and Lilla Serlegi. She began collaborating with Dominique Leone following her guest artist performance of Philip Glass’s “Train 1” with sfSound. http://www.americanbach.org/Artists/PrayDiana.htm
Alexandra Buschman is a vocalist, composer and improviser from Puerto Rico, based in San Francisco, CA. She studied Composition and Bel Canto singing at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, and later got her MA in Music Composition from Mills College, where she studied with Fred Frith and Chris Brown. Her solo work, Demon Sleeper, is a Cabaret-like song cycle based on nightmares and lucid dreams - performed with electronic music and live vocal processing. Alexandra also performs with the infamous Oakland noise duo Holiday Heart, and metal/noise/improv trio, Bloodfucker. Along with her vocal talents, her expertise with pedals and effects will be a highlight of Les Noces. http://www.myspace.com/alexandrabuschman
Danishta Rivero is a musician and sound artist residing in San Francisco, CA. She studied composition with an emphasis in electronic music and recording media at Mills College. She is a vocalist, composer, teacher, and instrument builder who has been involved in several music projects including progressive metal band Aghora (1997-2006); multimedia collaboration Optiphonal Wonder Machine (2009-2010); just intonation noise duo Blood Wedding (2010-current). Danishta has toured the Pacific NW with her hydrophonium, an instrument built with hydrophones in glass jars filled with water. http://www.danishtarivero.com/
Elise Cumberland is a Bay Area singer and musician ffrom Memphis, TN. Born with a musical instinct and big ears, Elise studied musical theater and dance from a young age. She received a BA in Electronic Music and Recording Media from Mills College in Oakland, CA. She has performed at Littlefield Concert Hall and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and was a featured soloist in Mark Clifford’s commission for the New Keys Festival at SF Community Music Center. In her own work, Elise manipulates vocal improvisations alongside field recordings of natural and urban environments. Her inspirations range from Badu to Bach, Sondheim to Feldman and Prince, Olafur Eliasson, The Audium, birds, flowers, soul music and those moments where nature and technology intersect.
Jordan Glenn was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. His early years involved drawing cartoons and taking dance classes from my aunt. At the age of 12 music and movies took over. He studied classical percussion, jazz and made short movies with his friends in high school. During college he played dinner-jazz gigs and recorded/toured with various rock bands. In 2006 he relocated to the Bay Area and has been lucky enough to cross paths with Fred Frith, William Winant, Zeena Parkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Anantha Krishnan, Ben Goldberg, John Schott, Cory Wright, Aram Shelton, Steini Gunnarsson, Dominique Leone, Darren Johnston, Graham Connah, and the bands Jack O’ the Clock, Host Family, Efft, 20 Minute Loop, The Monolith, Beep!, tUnE-yArDs, Science Fiction, Evon, Arts & Sciences, and the Oakland Active Orchestra. He also leads the saxophones/drum trio Wiener Kids, who will soon release their third album. http://www.jordanglennmusic.com/
Jason Hoopes is heavily active in the eclectic Bay Area rock scene as bassist for a wide range of bands including Jack O' The Clock, The Atomic Bomb Audition, Dominique Leone, Electric Bardo and many others. He composes music for contemporary dance, having worked most recently with Molissa Fenley on her 5 Prop Dances which premiered at New York's Joyce SoHo theater in November 2010. Jason also improvises with a wide range of Bay Area musicians including Fred Frith, Phillip Greenlief, Jordan Glenn, and Noah Phillips. His compositions for dance can be found at http://www.jasonhoopes.bandcamp.com. Jason lives in Oakland, CA with his wife and best friend of 18 years, photographer Carly Hoopes.
Mark Clifford is a composer and vibraphonist currently residing in Oakland, CA. A sought after performer and improviser, Mark is equally involved in free improvisation, new music, jazz, and rock, and is a part of multiple projects in and around the Bay Area. His performance experience spans worldwide; he has had the honor of playing alongside an array of esteemed contemporaries including Tatsuya Nakatani, Aram Shelton, Wu Fei, Ron Miles, Jeff Parker, Paul Riola, Colin Stranahan, So Percussion, and Scott Amendola. As a composer, Mark has remained highly active in the Bay Area since moving from Denver in 2009. He composed the music for Samantha Stone’s production of A Crimson Hexagon which had its premier in late 2009. More recently, Mark had a work commissioned by the New Keys ensemble which had its premiere in April 2011. Mark is also busy as the composer and ensemble leader for the Dirty Snacks Ensemble, an instrumental group dedicated to taking new music out of the concert hall and making it available to listeners of every musical background. His training includes a BM in Percussion Performance from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and is currently working towards continuing his education as a student of composition.
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