Pittsburgh New Music Net

cutting-edge music in the ’burgh and beyond

Now Ensemble’s Awake at no. 2 on Amazon Classical

Now Ensemble’s new release, Awake, is shooting to the top of the Amazon Classical charts after a very positive review this past weekend on All Things Considered. We’re particularly excited because Pittsburgh’s own Patrick Burke is a member of the innovative composer-performer collective. Give the review and Awake a listen.

May 24, 2011 at 8:32 am Comments (0)

New Music Happenings: Rapture Edition

That’s right, Friday may be one of your last opportunities to hear new music before the rapture, so you can be glad that a recital at Duquesne by flutist Deidre Hukcabay and pianist Katie Palumbo will include pieces by our own Federico Garcia, a premiere by Robert Morris (Eastman composer, not the University) and works by James Romig. A good way to say farewell to this cruel world to be sure.

And if you are one of the unlucky ones left behind, don’t miss Pittsburgh-based Freya String Quartet performing a new piece by Sean Neukom. FSQ is a versatile group that moves easily from the classical repertoire to contemporary music to providing the lush accompaniments on Joy Ike’s Rumors album, and it’s great to see them taking root here in the Burgh.

Check out PNMNet End Times Calendar for more info.

Update: And don’t forget the Tuple bassoon duo tonight (that’s right, I said bassoon duo) at the Kiva Han on Craig and Forbes in Oakland. All the info is at Manny’s post.

May 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm Comments (0)

Flute and Piano Friday

May 20, 2011
7:00 pm

Pappert Center for Performance and Innovation, Room 322, Duquesne University

Join flutist Deidre Huckabay and pianist Katie Palumbo for an evening of contemporary music for flute and piano at Duquesne University’s Pappert Center for Performance and Innovation, Room 322.

Vynes by Eastman professor Robert Morris (world premiere)
Transparencies and Oiseau Miro by James Romig
5, 6, 4, 3, and Fantasia for Piano on a Theme by Bach by Federico Garcia
Sonata in D Major by Sergei Prokofiev

May 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm Comments (0)

Jewish Music Festival Presents Betty Olivero’s Score for Der Golem

June 2, 2011
7:30 pm

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
Agnes and Joseph Katz Performing Arts Center

Tickets: $20 general admission, $15 seniors, $10 students

In 16th century Prague, a rabbi animates a clay giant to protect his people, but has he created a hero or a monster?   In a unique collaboration with JFilm: The Pittsburgh Jewish Film Forum, the Jewish Music Festival will screen the classic silent film “The Golem: How He Came Into the World” (Germany, 1920, 86 minutes). Betty Olivero’s haunting score will be performed live as backdrop to director Paul Wegener’s expressionist images and epic set pieces, screened in gorgeous color-tinted black and white with English intertitles. Lucy Fischer, Distinguished Professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Film Studies Department will introduce the film.

Performing Olivero’s music are Marissa Byers, clarinet; Nurit Pacht and Rachel Stegeman, violins; Tatjana Mead Chamis, viola Aron Zelkowicz, cello; and Stephen Burns,who directs Fulcrum Point Music New Music Project in Chicago.

May 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm Comments (0)

Big New Music Weekend in the Burgh, May 13-15

You can hit a concert every night over this weekend, starting tonight with the PSO premiering Joan Tower’s new work Stroke. That concert is tonight and tomorrow night and features pianist and wolf conservationist (how often to you get to type that phrase?) Hélène Grimaud performing Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 23, K. 488, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2. Go to the Friday night show if you can so that…

You can catch Alia Musica Pittburgh’s second spring concert at Saturdany night at 7 p.m. (Synod Hall). And that’s not all! If you order now (or even if you don’t) you can hear ELCO’s “Mixtape” concert Sunday night at the Brewhouse, and as you would hope, there will be lots of Duquesne Pilsner on hand as part of the festivities (and coffee for the under 21 set.)

Whew! Are you ready?

May 13, 2011 at 8:36 am Comments (0)

Penn Avenue avantgarde: Wed 5/25 Chris Forsyth Paranoid Cat; Sat 5/28 Voelker Goetze & Ablaye Cissoko


The Consortium presents two great avantgarde concerts on Penn Avenue!

Wed May 25 8 pm $7 all ages welcome
Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Avenue

From Phila/NYC, seen here previously a couple times as member of Peeesseye. on Family Vineyard Records.

improvisational duo

with special guests Ben Opie & Matt Wellins

Guitarist Chris Forsyth is known for hypnotic compositions that assimilate minimalism and psychedelia with art rock, folk, and blues influences. He has performed all over Europe and the US, having toured with such like-minded artists as Träd Gräs och Stenar, Steve Gunn, Tetuzi Akiyama, Ignatz, and Es and is a founding member (with Jaime Fennelly and Fritz Welch) of junk folk expressionists Peeesseye, and a member of the elusive experimental group Phantom Limb & Bison. Other notable collaborators include Koen Holtkamp, Meg Baird, Nate Wooley, and choreographers Miguel Gutierrez and RoseAnne Spradlin. Paranoid Cat, Forsyth’s next solo LP, features contributions from members of Peeesseye, Mountains, D. Charles Speer & the Helix, and others, and will be released in March 2011 on Family Vineyard. Drummer Mike Pride, bassist Peter Kerlin, organist Don Bruno, and pianist Hans Chew, aka The Paranoid Cat Band, will be backing Forsyth up on a series of shows following the release. Other recent releases include a contribution to the new Imaginational Anthem 4: New Possibilities compilation LP/CD/DL on Tompkins Square, the Dirty Pool LP (Ultramarine) with organist Shawn Edward Hansen, and Peeesseye’s newest studio LP Pestilence & Joy (Evolving Ear). Forsyth is the caretaker of Evolving Ear and lives in the City of Philadelphia.

“It’s enough to signal Forsyth’s arrival as an erudite and farsighted guitar stylist, mapping a path that’s hip and scholarly in equal measure.” – Daniel Spicer, The Wire Magazine

“A destructible charm teetering on violence and elegance” – Eric Weddle, Signal to Noise Magazine


Saturday May 28 8 pm all ages welcome $10 adv/$15 door
Modern Formations Gallery, 4919 Penn Avenue, Garfield
Advance tickets at Paul’s CDs, Caliban Books, Dave’s Music Mine, Exchange Sq Hill, Exchange Downtown,
and from the members of Berman/Bernabo/SoySos.

World music-jazz duo on ObliqSound Records
ABLAYE Cissoko (on kora, from Senegal)
& VOELKER GOETZE (on trumpet, from Germany)

with special guests Dave Bernabo / Jeff Berman / Soy Sos (aka Herman Pearl)

This duo has a podcast on WYEP’s website which Rosemary Welsch hosted:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The mutual admiration society that is Volker Goetze and Ablaye Cissoko owes itself to a serendipitous meeting that took place in 2001 at the African-European Jazz Orchestra rehearsals in Saint-Louis, Senegal, where they’d been invited to open for Senegalese legend Youssou N’Dour. Despite any cultural barriers that separated them, the German-born trumpeter and the Senegalese kora player and singer discovered they had much in common, both musically and personally. Their commonalities can be heard on Sira, which is an album that reaffirms the maxim that music is the universal language. The album released on October 2008 on ObliqSound. “He comes from the griot tradition. My grandfathers were highly respected spiritual leaders,” says Goetze. “I learn from him and he learns from me. Our music is very much created in the moment, but we understand each other on a much deeper level.”

It was their willingness to absorb new ideas that attracted them to each other. Although Cissoko is wellversed in the traditional music of West Africa, passed along from generation to generation, he has always been a seeker, keeping his ears open for new experiences. Despite his ties to West African traditional music, Cissoko is also a huge fan of jazz, and worked with pianist/composer Randy Weston and others prior to the project with Goetze. “My early influences,” he says, “come from Keith Jarrett, French saxophonist François Jeanneau, Asian and Senegalese music and, of course, Mandingue music, the music of my ancestors.”

His immersion in jazz, and Goetze’s fascination with African music, made them natural candidates for collaboration. “I was fortunate to have experienced some of the greatest innovators of jazz live in concert,” says Goetze, “like Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Wayne Shorter, the Gil Evans Big Band and Joe Henderson. They touched and moved me. That is what I am looking for in music, which is one reason I had to go to Africa. I also am a huge fan of Youssou N’Dour.”

Goetze, who has collaborated with some of the most important figures of the contemporary music scene, including Naná Vasconcelos, Craig Handy and Lenny Pickett, sees similarities between Cissoko’s griot tradition and that of jazz: “[Griot music] is not written; it changes with the epoch and the performance, which is similar to jazz and improvisation.”

“It is our differences that become real strength,” adds Cissoko, who has released two previous solo albums, 2000’s Diam and 2006’s Le Griot Rouge, prior to the duo album Sira. “I adapt myself to the context. I have in myself this ancient tradition of communication. It’s like the branches of a baobab tree, which can touch those of another tree. I’m one of these branches. Volker and I are two musicians of the same generation with different sensibilities, who become one indivisible entity by speaking with our instruments.”


May 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm Comments (0)

Fri 5/20 @ Kiva Han: TUPLE bassoon duo

Fri May 20     8 pm     all ages welcome     $5 admission
Kiva Han Coffeehouse, Forbes & Craig, Oakland

avant-garde chamber music in a coffeehouse setting

Tuple is two bassoons: Rachael Elliott and Lynn Hileman. Since 2006 they have performed new music in styles ranging from mystical to funk-inspired, absurdist to minimalist, and electronic to static. The duo has staged concerts and master classes at venues across the United States, including The Stone (NYC), A|V Space (Rochester), Catamount Arts Center (Vermont), [SCENE] MetroSpace (East Lansing), Eyedrum (Atlanta), Flood Fine Art Center (Asheville), University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Northwestern University, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, among others. Other appearances include recitals at the 2008 International Double Reed Society and College Music Society Conventions, as well as numerous outreach programs for high school and college students. Tuple has premiered new works by Australian composer Padma Newsome and American Max Grafe, as well as the first bassoon duo version of Marc Mellits’ “Black,” originally for two bass clarinets. New pieces underway for the 2011-2012 season include music by Tawnie Olson and Beth Wiemann.

Rachael Elliott is the bassoonist/improviser with Clogs, Heliand Trio, Tuple, and the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble. She has also been a guest player with indie artists such as The National, Sufjan Stevens, and My Brightest Diamond. She has performed throughout the U.S., Europe, and Australia, and has premiered a number of new works for bassoon. With Clogs, she has performed at the Sydney Festival, London Jazz Festival, Warhol Museum, Wexner Center for the Arts, Cincinnati’s MusicNOW Festival and Bang on a Can Marathon. Rachael teaches bassoon at the University of Vermont, Middlebury College and Kinhaven Music School.

Lynn Hileman is in demand throughout the US as a recitalist specializing in contemporary music, appearing most recently at the Washington State University Festival of Contemporary Art Music and the Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival. She is Assistant Professor of Bassoon at West Virginia University, principal bassoonist of the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra and a member of the Laureate Quintet. Lynn is also co-founder and former president of A|V Space, a gallery and performance space in Rochester, NY specializing in interdisciplinary and multimedia works.

May 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm Comments (0)

Freya String Quartet Premieres Sean Neukom Work

May 22, 2011
4:00 pm

Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church
Free will offering will be taken


Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church presents Freya String Quartet in concert on May 22, 2011 at 4 pm. The FSQ will present Schubert’s sublime Quartettsatz in C Minor, Mendelssohn’s youthful String Quartet No. 2 in D Major, and At 7.0, a new work written for FSQ by Pittsburgh composer Sean Neukom. Admission is free and open to the public. A goodwill offering will be taken. FSQ are artists with Symbiotic Collusion. For more information contact Pleasant Hills Community Church, 199 Old Clairton Road Pittsburgh, PA 15236, (412) 655-2000 or visit www.freyaquartet.com.

Founded in 2009, the Freya String Quartet is a quickly rising ensemble of talented musicians based out of Pittsburgh, PA. From the concert hall to the cafe to the classroom, the Freya String Quartet is committed to bringing classical music to a wide range of audiences through engaging performances and eclectic and varied programming. The members have been featured in performances throughout the United States, Asia, South America and Europe, and have studied with members of the Cleveland Quartet, The Los Angeles Piano Quartet, The Cavani String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, Daedalus Quartet, Fry Street Quartet, Audobon Quartet and the Alexander String Quartet.

May 11, 2011 at 8:30 am Comments (0)

Why I Stood for Final Alice

So basically, I almost never give  a standing ovation. It just doesn’t seem to mean that much anymore, and classical music audiences tend to give them out for merely competent performances. I’ve even been at concerts where the soloist, though famous, gave a truly sub-par performance only to have the audience leap to their feet.

Friday night’s performance of Final Alice by the PSO was frought with technical difficulties, especially in the case of Hila Plitmann’s headset mic, which seemed to have a loose connection somewhere that led to very loud pops at random intervals and to a lot  flinching in the audience. Pittsburgh’s USDA Grade A classical music critics have already written about the tech issues here and here.

What I found particularly discouraging was not the tech problems, per se—tech fails, and usually at the worst possible time—but the length of time it took for the engineers to make a decision about how to address the situation. It was fully two thirds of the way through the piece before Plitmann was given a wireless handheld and the headset mic was turned off for good. During those two thirds of the piece I was stewing in my juices, thinking about how hard it is to get a good hearing of a contemporary work, and how any barrier makes that more difficult. So when  Final Alice came to a close and the crowd leapt to its feat in a thunderous and sustained ovation, I got off my curmudgeonly butt too. And it wasn’t one of those stand-clap-clap now let’s run to the parking garage before everyone else ovations that I’ve seen plenty of times; this felt like the real thing.

I found myself wondering why, with with the actual experience of Del Tredici’s work having been so degraded, did the audience respond so enthusiastically? One clear reason has got to be Plitmann’s astonishing performance of such a demanding piece. I think there was a certain amount of rallying around her and the orchestra, who were in no way to blame for the difficulties. What also stood out to me, was that Del Tredici’s work really is one of the masterpieces of the 20th-century orchestral lit, and not even botched sound reinforcement could hide that. I left wanting to spend more time with a piece that has many riches to offer.

Being an audio engineer is tough work. Everyone has an opinion, and you only get noticed when something goes wrong. That said, at the highest professional level, you don’t expect to see the kinds of problems Heinz Hall experienced on Friday night, and if those problems occur, you expect them to get worked out more quickly. It would have been fine with me if Slatkin had stopped ten minutes into the work once it was apparent that the problem wasn’t going away. Maybe there is something in the contract that says he’s not allowed to, but that would have been preferable to having so much of what was very apparently a brilliant performance by both soloist and orchestra disfigured by sound reinforcement issues. In any case, it’s a testament to the depth of the music and the strength of the performances that the we were able to get a glimpse of how great a work Final Alice is, and I heard that Sunday’s performance was technically flawless. Good news to be sure.

May 9, 2011 at 10:42 am Comments (0)

Final Alice Tonight in the Burgh, NOW CD Release in New York

I gotta say, I’m very excited about hearing Hila Plitmann sing David Del Tredici’s Final Alice tonight. It’s hard for me to believe that it was 2002 when Plitmann and Del Tredici were here for Pitt’s Lehar Residency, but the performance and the music both stick out in my mind as outstanding.

The PSO also deserves a shoutout for some creative programming with Peter Leo’s revamped Peter and the Wolf, narrated by David Conrad, providing the other side of this program. It’s risky for a major orchestra to put a contemporary piece on a program without a warhorse or a top tier star to move tickets, but this is the kind of program that is really designed to expand the orchestra’s audience beyond the subscriber base and the programming and marketing teams deserve kudos for the effort. And don’t forget that PNMNet fans get a 20% discount! To order your discounted tickets, visit culturaldistrict.org and use promo codes “Twisted” or call 412.392.4819.

Another shout-out goes to Patrick Burke and the composer/performer collective NOW Ensemble. NOW releases their new CD Awake tonight at Le Poisson Rouge, so if you are in New York, check out this outstanding group.

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May 6, 2011 at 11:57 am Comments (0)