Tag Archives: choral music

Celebrating a Tragic, Iconoclastic Hungarian Hero at the National Arts Club

Source: New York Music Daily

Wouldn’t you wash your hands after you touched a corpse? Hospital physicians at Vienna’s Algelemine Krankenhaus didn’t. From a 21st century perspective, the results were predictably catastrophic.

Ray Lustig’s grim, powerfully resonant song cycle Semmelweis,  which premiered on September 11 at the National Arts Club, begins in 1848, One of Europe’s deadliest outbreaks of puerperal fever is killing one in ten new mothers at the hospital. Hungarian-born obstetrician Ignac Semmelweis is at a loss to explain it.

Semmelweis was a tragic hero in the purest sense of the word. Decades before Louis Pasteur, Semmelweis discovered the bacterial ...

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Singer Sara Serpa’s New Multimedia Project Examines the Aftereffects of Imperialism

Source: New York Music Daily

Sara Serpa is one of the most haunting singers in any style of music. She got her big break collaborating with iconic noir pianist Ran Blake – their  20110 album Camera Obscura is a masterpiece of menacing nocturnal music across all genres. Since then, her work has encompassed her own cinematic, often lush compositions, her role in John Zorn’s otherworldly Mycale chorale and an endless series of rewarding new projects and collaborations: there’s a restlessness in most everything she does. Her latest project was springboarded when she discovered a family archive of material relating to her native Portugal and its ...

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Rapturous Vocal and Sitar Ragas Last Night at the Drive East Festival

Source: New York Music Daily

There was a point last night at the ongoing, weeklong 2017 Drive East Festival of Indian music where tabla player Dibyarka Chaterjee looked up at singer Indrani Khare with a sudden grin, all the while maintaining a steady, syncopated volley of notes. Was she going to throw something else like that him again?

Although the greatest Indian classical musicians are all great improvisers, when they fly without a net those flights tend to be on the subtle side. An elegant, graceful presence onstage, Khare had begun her vast, profoundly bittersweet interpretation of raga Puriya Kalyan with a velvety calm, slowly ...

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Lavish, Paradigm-Shifting Indian Choral Sounds from the Navatman Music Collective

Source: New York Music Daily

Like the Brooklyn Raga Massive, the Navatman Music Collective are a semi-rotating cast of some of New York’s most innovative Indian instrumental and vocal talent. Just the fact that they’re the only carnatic choir in this hemisphere attests to the group’s adventurousness. Bands have been making rock music out of ancient carnatic themes since the days of the Beatles and Grateful Dead, and then there’s Bollywood, but Indian classical ensembles typically have no use for harmony because it doesn’t exist in the tradition.

When the Navatman Music Collective harmonize, their sound is lush, and otherworldly, and unlike any ...

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The Skylark Vocal Ensemble Explore Harrowingly Diverse Reactions to War at the French Institute

Source: New York Music Daily

Last night at the French Institute, the Skylark Vocal Ensemble sang a sometimes understatedly somber, often outright harrowing program that was as hubristic as it was relevant. Interspersing imaginatively arranged Civil War-era folk songs and hymns in between movements of Poulenc’s dynamic and rarely performed World War II-era Figure Humaine, the fifteen-piece choir voiced affectingly disparate reactions to wartime terror and the stress of living under siege.

Other choirs have mashed up iconic works from the classical repertoire with other styles, or with lesser-known pieces, with mixed results. Seraphic Fire‘s iconoclastic performance of the Mozart Requiem last year at Trinity Church, ...

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The Skylark Vocal Ensemble Bring Their Haunting, Otherworldly Exploration of Near-Death Themes to the French Institute

Source: New York Music Daily

The Skylark Vocal Ensemble’s latest album, Crossing Over – streaming at Spotify – is as haunting a collection of music as has been released over the past year. It’s meant to be. Making their way through a dynamic mix of works from around the globe and the past hundred years or so, with an emphasis on contemporary composers, the lustrous choir explore themes addressing an end-of-life dream state and the prospect of life after death. They’re bringing their rapt intensity to a concert at the French Institute/Alliance Française, 55 E 59th St. on April 27 at 7:30 PM where they’ll ...

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Stile Antico Bring Rare, Epic Medieval Grandeur to the Upper West Side

Source: New York Music Daily

Self-directed British choir Stile Antico might well be the world’s best-loved Renaissance vocal group. They work at a daunting pace, always on tour, always changing their repertoire and always recording it when they do. They have a passion for the obscure, the titanic – if you haven’t heard them sing John Sheppard’s Media Vita, you haven’t lived – as well as the pensive and poignant. Their latest album Divine Theatre: Sacred Motets by Giaches De Wert – is streaming at Spotify. They’re bringing their signature lustre and dynamics to the auditorium at 150 W 83rd St., between Amsterdam and ...

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The New York Choral Society Sing Masses For Troubled Masses at Carnegie Hall

Source: New York Music Daily

They’re amazing,” the friendly retiree whispered to her brand-new concertgoing pal, a New York City firefighter in his 20s. A couple of rows closer to the Carnegie Hall stage, two women in their forties, a married couple, quietly affirmed that. And after the mighty voices of the New York Choral Society had wound up their triumphant performance of Haydn’s “Lord Nelson” Mass there last night, a teen in the third row dressed like one of the rappers in the 80s group Kid ’N Play gave them a standing ovation. The accolades on the ensemble’s press page run on ...

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Wild and Rapturous Improvisational Magic in Ridgewood on Super Bowl Sunday

Source: New York Music Daily

As yesterday’s wryly named Super Bolus at Footlight Bar in Ridgewood got underway, it felt strange just to sit and watch  Typically, improvising musicians all end up playing with each other. Fifteen minutes into the show, that moment appeared. The long trip to the Cloisters a couple of weeks ago to jam a Pauline Oliveros chorale turned out to be useful practice!

After a duo set with trumpeter Daniel Levine, where Rallidae tenor saxophonist Angela Morris had introduced a jaunty Mardi Gras theme of sorts and the two had gracefully  intertwined with it, eventually taking it down to misty ...

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A Magical Pauline Oliveros Chorale That Every Musician Should Sing At Least Once

Source: New York Music Daily

If you think that group improvisation is challenging for an instrumentalist, try doing that as a vocalist – along with about hundred and twenty other singers. Friday afternoon at the Cloisters, WQXR’s Nadia Sirota led a determined ensemble of college kids, tourists and at least one proprietor of a music blog through two performances of Pauline Oliveros’ 1971 improvisational chorale Tuning Meditation, the shorter of which will be broadcast on Sirota’s Meet the Composer.

The intimate sonics and medieval polished marble ambience of the Fuentidueña Chapel there made for a choice of venue that did justice to the composer ...

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An Otherworldly, Mesmerizing Performance by Georgian Choir Ensemble Basiani

Source: New York Music Daily

Inside the Town Hall last night, the atmosphere was not quite as dark and stormy as the unseasonable torrents pelting the midtown streets. Out of the rain, a robust, enthusiastic, mostly Russian-speaking crowd were engaged by some of the most otherworldly sounds resonating on any New York stage this year. Music from the Republic of Georgia is instantly recognizable – there’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. While the twelve men of the eclectic and often electrifying choir Ensemble Basiani sometimes echoed the solemn, brooding quality of the Russian tradition, as well as a couple of interludes of lustrous polyphony in ...

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An Otherworldly, Mesmerizing Performance by Georgian Choir Ensemble Basiani

Source: New York Music Daily

Inside the Town Hall last night, the atmosphere was not quite as dark and stormy as the unseasonable torrents pelting the midtown streets. Out of the rain, a robust, enthusiastic, mostly Russian-speaking crowd were engaged by some of the most otherworldly sounds resonating on any New York stage this year. Music from the Republic of Georgia is instantly recognizable – there’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. While the twelve men of the eclectic and often electrifying choir Ensemble Basiani sometimes echoed the solemn, brooding quality of the Russian tradition, as well as a couple of interludes of lustrous polyphony in ...

Read full article >>

The Monks of Norcia: For Halloween, or Yoga?

Source: New York Music Daily

The distant, mysterious bells of the basilica where the Monks of Norcia reside open their debut album – a surprise hit, streaming at Spotify, which topped the classical album charts last year. Its thirty-three brief tracks, awash in the space’s rich natural reverb, raise questions of how we’re conditioned to perceive music. Is this an uber-gothic Halloween mix…a collection of expertly sung music with a function as practical as farmhands’ field hollers and African talking drums…or spare, sometimes understatedly attractive melodies suited to moments of reflection or relaxation? While many of us may relate to centuries-old themes like ...

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A Thrilling Centerpiece to This Year’s Drive East Festival of Indian Music

Source: New York Music Daily

High-voltage Indian vocal and instrumental group the Navatman Music Collective played one of the year’s most exhilarating concerts as part of this year’s Drive East Festival last night at LaMaMa, a sold-out performance in celebration of the release of their new album An Untimely Joy. Although each member got at least a couple of turns out front to dazzle the crowd with their voices and their chops, their de facto main soloist, Roopa Mahadevan, reaffirmed her status as not only one of the most spellbinding singers in New York but in the entire world. With her pulsing, minutely inflected melismas, ...

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Shelley Thomas Channels an Entire Bulgarian Vocal Choir on Her Stunning New Solo Album

Source: New York Music Daily

Shelley Thomas‘ debut solo album, Joy – streaming at her music page– is as exhilarating to listen to as it is a towering display of vocal prowess. Thomas is not only one of New York’s great voices; she’s one of the world’s most highly sought-after interpreters of Middle Eastern and Balkan music. What’s most impressive about this album is how she multitracks her voice, essentially becoming a one-woman Bulgarian vocal choir, a self-contained Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares or Black Sea Hotel (of which she is a member). As she explains in the album’s liner notes, Bulgarian music ...

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Shelley Thomas Channels an Entire Bulgarian Vocal Choir on Her Stunning New Solo Album

Source: New York Music Daily

Shelley Thomas‘ debut solo album, Joy – streaming at her music page– is as exhilarating to listen to as it is a towering display of vocal prowess. Thomas is not only one of New York’s great voices; she’s one of the world’s most highly sought-after interpreters of Middle Eastern and Balkan music. What’s most impressive about this album is how she multitracks her voice, essentially becoming a one-woman Bulgarian vocal choir, a self-contained Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares or Black Sea Hotel (of which she is a member). As she explains in the album’s liner notes, Bulgarian music ...

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The Sway Machinery and Hydra Stage a Magical, Otherworldly, Psychedelic Collaboration at Joe’s Pub

Source: New York Music Daily

While a whole lot of New Yorkers were up at Lincoln Center Out of Doors to hear Lucinda Williams, an audience of cognoscenti filled Joe’s Pub to witness this city’s most auspicious musical collaboration this year, between the magically Balkan-influenced all-female trio Hydra and the Sway Machinery, who could be described as a cantorially-influenced psychedelic desert rock band. Hearing frontman/guitarist Jeremiah Lockwood’s impassioned, melismatic baritone amidst the pulsing, distantly gospel-inflected harmonies of Luminescent Orchestrii’s Rima Fand, Nanuchka’s Yula Beeri and Black Sea Hotel‘s Sarah Small was viscerally spine-tingling. Lockwood might be the strongest male singer in New York, ...

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Cutting-Edge, Elegantly Menacing Ben Johnston String Works from the Kepler Quartet

Source: New York Music Daily

The Kepler Quartet – violinists Sharan Leventhal and Eric Stignitz, violist Brek Renzelman and cellist Karl Lavine – first joined forces to play some of the most amazing, extraordinary music you probably have never heard: the string quartets of microtonal composer Ben Johnston. It’s full of some of the most otherworldly riffs and hooks you’ll ever hum to yourself. The now-nonagenarian American composer should be vastly better known than he is, someone who was decades ahead of his time when he wrote his first string quarter in 1959. Few other composers use microtones – the intervals between the notes ...

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Conspiracy of Venus Bring Their Artful Polyphonic Fun to Three NYC Shows

Source: New York Music Daily

The thirty women of Conspiracy of Venus comprise one of the world’s most original and captivating choral groups. They’re sister to mighty all-male Leonard Cohen chorale A Conspiracy of Beards, specializing in ethereal, labyrinthine-voiced versions of rock and Americana songs. Their richly imaginative, innovative debut album – streaming at Bandcamp – is wryly titled Muse Ecology (say it fast if you don’t get it the first time around). They’re the centerpiece of the one of the year’s best triplebills, on May 21 at around 10 at the Jalopy. Two of the most unpredictably fun singers in newschool oldtime Americana, ...

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An Auspicious, Surrealistically Intense Performance of Denise Mei Yan Hofmann Chamber Works at Mannes College of Music

Source: New York Music Daily

Up-and-coming composers on the conservatory track face the daunting challenge of having to assimilate an overwhelming amount of material, all the while being expected to establish an individual voice. Too often, that puts a young composer in the position of having to regurgitate whatever stylistic tropes happen to be in vogue at a particular institution. Sometimes that makes sense: you like ambient music? IRCAM’s your place. Just as obsessed with improvisation as composition? New England Conservatory might be where you want to be. Is melody your thing? Try Mannes. That’s where Denise Mei Yan Hofmann is finishing her Master’s in music. Sunday ...

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An Auspicious, Surrealistically Intense Performance of Denise Mei Yan Hofmann Chamber Works at Mannes College of Music

Source: New York Music Daily

Up-and-coming composers on the conservatory track face the daunting challenge of having to assimilate an overwhelming amount of material, all the while being expected to establish an individual voice. Too often, that puts a young composer in the position of having to regurgitate whatever stylistic tropes happen to be in vogue at a particular institution. Sometimes that makes sense: you like ambient music? IRCAM’s your place. Just as obsessed with improvisation as composition? New England Conservatory might be where you want to be. Is melody your thing? Try Mannes. That’s where Denise Mei Yan Hofmann is finishing her Master’s in music. Sunday ...

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Lesley Flanigan Builds Uneasily Enveloping Sonics at National Sawdust

Source: New York Music Daily

Singer and sound sculptor Lesley Flanigan headlined at National Sawdust Friday night with the epic title track to her new ep, Hedera. Onstage, depending on the piece she’s creating, sometimes she ends up doing a floor ballet of sorts, a constant, rigorously physical dialogue with the mixer and speakers and mics positioned around her. This was not one of those situations. On her knees, brow knitted, almost motionless, she switched on an old, broken tape recorder, amplified to the rafters, and launched into the piece..

On album, and to an extent on the new ep, Flanigan’s sonic creations often ...

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Rapturously Enigmatic Soundscapes and a National Sawdust Performance by Lesley Flanigan

Source: New York Music Daily

Lesley Flanigan is sort of this decade’s counterpart to Laurie Anderson. Like Anderson, Flanigan has a background in sculpture, which informs her dynamic, sometimes disarmingly intimate, sometimes toweringly lush soundscapes. Where Anderson leads an ensemble on violin or keys, Flanigan creates her aural sculptures with layers of vocals and custom-made speakers, which she builds herself and utilizes for subtle layers of feedback. She has a characteristially enveloping, hypnotic new album, Hedera – streaming at Bandcamp – and a show on April 1 (no joke) at 7 PM at National Sawdust, sharing a bill with similarly adventurous vocalists C ...

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The Yale Slavic Chorus Hold the Crowd Rapt at Barbes

Source: New York Music Daily

A girl had a competition with a nightingale to determine who was the better singer. “If I win, I get to cut off your wings,” the girl tells the bird. And then the girl wins.

‘Please don’t cut off my wings,” the defeated bird pleads. “You can cut off my feet instead. I need my wings to fly.”

“You know what, I’ll let you keep your wings, and your feet too,” the girl replies. “I’ll be satisfied knowing that I sing better than a nightingale.”

That was one of the happier stories that the eight women of the Yale Slavic ...

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Cantori New York Debut a Haunting, Relevant Program of Choral Works

Source: New York Music Daily

Saturday night at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in the West Village, Cantori New York sang an often harrowing, riveting program of powerful, socially relevant US and New York premieres. Director Mark Shapiro conducted the ensemble with a spring-loaded intensity and a beaming sense of accomplishment, mirrored by the group smiling back at him. This ensemble is obviously having the time of their lives pushing the envelope.

In the same vein as Pablo Casals stumbling on the Bach Cello Suites in a junk shop, Shapiro had discovered the distinctive and often mesmerizing work of Italian composer Bruno Bettinelli ...

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