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Matthew McCright releases Gene Gutchë CD

Matthew McCright‘s advocacy of American piano music has brought him into collaboration with lots of composers and his standard bio starts with this list: Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, August Read Thomas, Paul Dresher, and Michael Gordon – some experimental and free thinkers, to be sure. So it was an interesting departure for McCright that his latest recording project was of music by Gene Gutche (1907-2000), a German immigrant who wrote some rather vivid works but did hew to a rather old school tonal idiom.  So I asked McCright to tell the story of how he became connected to Gutchë’s...
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“Positions 1956″ opera review by Scott Pender

Robert Wood, founder of UrbanArias opera company, believes that new opera presented in smaller venues using nominal forces at reasonable ticket prices can be successful. Last weekend (4/14/12) he was proved right, with a solid premiere of “Positions 1956,” commissioned by the DC-based group from composer Conrad Cummings and librettist Michael Korie. “Positions 1956” uses various 1950’s instructional manuals, all dealing with “positions”  (sexual, physical exercise, partner-dancing) as source material for a three-part 90-minute musical theater work that follows a year in the life...
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DeMare Launches his “Liaisons” with Sondheim, Concert review by Scott Pender

LIAISONS: Off to a Good Start Saturday April 2 University of Maryland Anthony de Mare kicked off his American tour of LIAISONS: Re-imagining Sondheim from the Piano at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with fine performances of 14 new works. LIAISONS will eventually include short piano pieces written by 36 stylistically diverse contemporary composers, each work based on a Steven Sondheim song of the composer’s choice. De Mare explains in his program note that Sondheim’s music has been a part of his own life as far back as he can remember, and that he had...
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Celebrating Lou Harrison in D.C., festival review by Scott Pender

Over the past week, the Washington DC-based Post-Classical Ensemble, in conjunction with The George Washington University, the National Gallery of Art, and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, presented an ambitious series of three programs looking at the life and work of Lou Harrison. A true American original, Harrison was a composer of great lyric gifts and a maverick who espoused “world music” before we called it that. He was also an ardent environmentalist and pacifist, a poet and Esperanto scholar, an accomplished calligrapher and painter, and an out, gay man in a time when that...
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Gwen Deely’s Year in Concerts

The contemporary performing arts in New York have no better friend than GWEN DEELY. She’s as devoted and busy an audience member as they come.  (All the more so, since she’s got a day job and doesn’t get free tickets like us critics.) I visit her in Manhattan regularly and she always gives me a report of the great events she’s attended. This year she seemed to have had a lot of peak experiences, including her own performances as a chorister at the Guggenheim, BAM and Lincoln Center. A former staff member of the music publisher C.F. Peters and also Composers Recordings, Inc., Gwen wrote...
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