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George Crumb

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ENTERTAINMENT
November 4, 1998 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
All composers create. A few invent. Connecticut Yankee Charles Ives pioneered a polytonal style, Californian Harry Partch made unique operas with his own odd instruments, New Yorker John Cage organized noise into concept-music. And who before West Virginia-reared, Philadelphia-claimed George Crumb would electrify a string quartet that also plays with water? Three sets of stemware are bowed by the violinists and violist in the quartet Black Angels (Thirteen Images from a Dark Land)
NEWS
September 29, 2009 | By Daniel Webster FOR THE INQUIRER
Like Brahms, George Crumb prematurely announced himself done with composing - this was a decade or so ago. And, like Brahms, he ended retirement quickly when newly inspired by performers, in this case Orchestra 2001. The ensemble, led by James Freeman, became Crumb's personal outlet for an astonishing outpouring of music that draws on his West Virginia upbringing. Samples of that remarkable series of six American Songbooks were performed Friday at the Kimmel Center and Sunday at Swarthmore College in concerts marking Crumb's impending 80th birthday on Oct. 24. The program had the feeling of a festschrift, its first half including works by James Primosch, Jay Reise and Anna Weesner, colleagues when Crumb taught at the University of Pennsylvania.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 1, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The elements of George Crumb's "American Songbook" series have arrived in such quick succession in recent years that a return to them at Orchestra 2001's Crumb@85 celebration Sunday at the Curtis Institute's Gould Hall revealed few shocks but a more cultivated sense of poetic meaning. The sixth songbook, Voices From the Morning of the Earth (2007), occupied the program with performers who have long lived with this music: his daughter Ann Crumb, baritone Randall Scarlata, Marcantonio Barone on piano, and a five-member ensemble playing something like 150 percussion instruments.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 30, 1990 | By Lesley Valdes, Inquirer Music Critic
The American premiere of George Crumb's latest composition, Quest, has been scheduled by Speculum Musicae for tonight's all-Crumb concert at the Settlement School. Guitarist David Starobin has the featured role in the piece, which is scored for harp, two percussionists, double bass and saxophone. Starobin said Crumb planned five movements for the work but had completed only three; these, all slow movements, will be heard tonight. Two movements received their world premiere in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in December; the third was finished three weeks ago. "It's an amazingly beautiful piece," Starobin says of Quest, adding that when it was performed in Amsterdam, it received a long standing ovation.
NEWS
October 3, 2002 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
If the vocal part to George Crumb's . . . Unto the Hills somehow got divorced from its instrumental accompaniment, you might think that the composer had just come back from a backwoods filching adventure. Crumb, as a native of West Virginia (the drawl is still there), reached back into youth for all of the work's melody. Each of the vocal movements comes straight out of Appalachia. "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" is there, as are "All the Pretty Horses" and "Ten Thousand Miles. " But this is George Crumb we're talking about, the influential composer whose 30-year-old Black Angels for string quartet still startles listeners by asking musicians to bow wine and champagne glasses, shout out numbers in various languages, and otherwise misbehave.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 9, 2004 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
What makes a caricature so funny is that the exaggeration points out a truth, and for George Crumb, the quick sketch came at the end of a concert Thursday night when Orchestra 2001 surprised the composer with a round of "Happy Birthday," Crumb style. Everyone knew when the dark spread of dissonant piano notes was struck that what was to come would be Crumb, and breaking into the familiar tune to note his 75th only heightened the perceived authenticity. Of course, the audience at the Perelman Theater had just been primed with the composer's latest overlaying of trademark Crumb sounds on familiar tunes in an exploration of indigenous American song.
NEWS
August 2, 2005 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
The familiar tune "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" arrives in the new collection of songs by Philadelphia composer George Crumb without its usual air of triumph: You're more likely to envision the soldier's pallbearers. Unfolding like a funeral march, the song is groaned as much as it's sung while rusty chains are rattling on a bass drum. "It's war tunes," says soprano soloist Barbara Ann Martin, "with the twist of a knife. " The Winds of Destiny: Songs of Strife, Love, Mystery and Exultation, the latest Crumb world premiere by the Philadelphia contemporary-music ensemble Orchestra 2001, arrives at the prestigious Salzburg Festival on Thursday - an important event for composer and orchestra.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 23, 1994 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
His music is dark and introspective, but anyone who knows him knows his sense of humor. He grew up listening to Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, but his compositions have musicians plucking the strings of pianos and playing instruments that Toscanini probably never dreamed of. From his studio at his home in Media, he composes music played around the world. And tomorrow, when George Crumb turns 65, he will celebrate with others, who are celebrating his music. Crumb; his wife, Liz, and one of his sons, Peter, will be in Houston, where the music department at the University of Texas is throwing the composer a birthday party this weekend in the form of concerts and seminars.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 9, 1993 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
What would Sergei Rachmaninoff have said about the eerie whistles and enchanted tinklings filling his namesake hall at the Moscow Conservatory yesterday evening? Would Rachmaninoff, who composed some of the moodiest, most soulful music known, have admired America's master of musical moods and mysteries, George Crumb? And what would Rachmaninoff, whose affection for the Philadelphia Orchestra is well-documented, have thought about one of Philadelphia's smaller musical gems, Orchestra 2001?
NEWS
October 5, 1993 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
While the sounds of gunfire rang from blocks away like some demonic staccato yesterday, Philadelphia composer George Crumb, 63, looked at eight music students and professors who, despite martial law, had gotten past the police and into the Moscow Conservatory. They wanted to hear the scheduled master class, no matter what. "Sometimes," Crumb told them, "it's good to hear a little music and forget about the other things. " And so after Albert Lehman, chief of the conservatory's composition department, told that group that "we are very impressed that you've managed to come here during this extraordinary and dangerous time, but perhaps this is also a very romantic atmosphere," Crumb gave his class.
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ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
September 18, 2015 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
When James Freeman founded a new music group in 1988, the name he chose might have suggested a specific date of expiry: Orchestra 2001. Today, with that once-futuristic-sounding year far in the rearview mirror, Orchestra 2001 is still here, and is still presenting 20th - and now 21st century - art music. But by the end of the season, Orchestra 2001 promises to be something quite different. Freeman has retired, and what once looked like a sole proprietorship with a limited run has emerged as a self-perpetuating, board-run organization.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 1, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The elements of George Crumb's "American Songbook" series have arrived in such quick succession in recent years that a return to them at Orchestra 2001's Crumb@85 celebration Sunday at the Curtis Institute's Gould Hall revealed few shocks but a more cultivated sense of poetic meaning. The sixth songbook, Voices From the Morning of the Earth (2007), occupied the program with performers who have long lived with this music: his daughter Ann Crumb, baritone Randall Scarlata, Marcantonio Barone on piano, and a five-member ensemble playing something like 150 percussion instruments.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 17, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Having performed John Cage's supremely spare (and deeply economical) 4'33" of silence earlier this season, Orchestra 2001 was living particularly large in its contribution to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts with a 40-member group performing Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) . The time-travel-themed PIFA landmarks for Saturday's program at Church of the Holy Trinity were the 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the 1969 Apollo moon landing, commemorated by George Crumb's Night of the Four Moons . Crumb is a natural choice, given Swarthmore-based 2001's longtime association with the Media composer.
NEWS
January 30, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
At age 82, composer George Crumb can consider himself complimented when listeners walk out during a new piece. Though departures were few during Orchestra 2001's world premiere of Songs From the Heartland at the Trinity Center for Urban Life on Saturday, they still reminded you of how much Crumb's individuality can still seem extraterrestrial to those who don't expect to hear familiar and exotic instruments playing in unorthodox ways. Like its six predecessors, Heartland transforms folk songs, hymns, and chants not with typical re-harmonization, but by transplanting the tunes - sung, spoken, and whispered by Ann Crumb and Patrick Mason - into an alien sound environment.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 24, 2012 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
After a full decade of near-annual George Crumb premieres - and with them, landscapes of sounds undreamed of - Orchestra 2001 has completely earned its latest running joke: When the players are ambushed by odd noises on the street, they say, "Don't let George hear that one!" - meaning, he might put it in his next piece. "Oh, I know," said the soft-spoken Pulitzer-winning composer, who is 82. "They kid me, too. They do. " As it is, Voices From the Heartland , the seventh set in his "American Songbook" series, will be premiered Saturday and Sunday by Orchestra 2001 with a Balinese anklung, an Afro-Brazilian berimbau, and 98 other percussion instruments that are as hard to imagine as they are to pronounce.
NEWS
May 18, 2010 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
George Crumb is always good for a theatrical flourish or two. In his Eleven Echoes of Autumn from 1965, the violinist plays and whistles. The flutist plays and whispers simultaneously. At one point during the piece, clarinetist and flutist walk over to the open lid of a grand piano, look down into the body of the instrument as if it were a cradle or a grave, and play into the echoing abyss. Even if you didn't like what you heard at Sunday afternoon's concert of Counter)induction - no, not a typo, but a contemporary music group - you could at least be engaged visually.
NEWS
May 18, 2010 | By Peter Dobrin, Inquirer Music Critic
George Crumb is always good for a theatrical flourish or two. In his Eleven Echoes of Autumn from 1965, the violinist plays and whistles. The flutist plays and whispers simultaneously. At one point during the piece, clarinetist and flutist walk over to the open lid of a grand piano, look down into the body of the instrument as if it were a cradle or a grave, and play into the echoing abyss. Even if you didn't like what you heard at Sunday afternoon's concert of Counter)induction - no, not a typo, but a contemporary music group - you could at least be engaged visually.
NEWS
March 5, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Bryn Mawr-based pianist Marcantonio Barone has been such a durable presence - bringing instant charisma to new, challenging works by the likes of George Crumb - the packed house that greeted his Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital on Wednesday showed how gratifying a local career can be. The warm response reflected accumulated goodwill, even though the first half contained challenging new and newish works, namely the 1998 Piano Sonata No....
NEWS
September 29, 2009 | By Daniel Webster FOR THE INQUIRER
Like Brahms, George Crumb prematurely announced himself done with composing - this was a decade or so ago. And, like Brahms, he ended retirement quickly when newly inspired by performers, in this case Orchestra 2001. The ensemble, led by James Freeman, became Crumb's personal outlet for an astonishing outpouring of music that draws on his West Virginia upbringing. Samples of that remarkable series of six American Songbooks were performed Friday at the Kimmel Center and Sunday at Swarthmore College in concerts marking Crumb's impending 80th birthday on Oct. 24. The program had the feeling of a festschrift, its first half including works by James Primosch, Jay Reise and Anna Weesner, colleagues when Crumb taught at the University of Pennsylvania.
NEWS
October 7, 2008 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
George Crumb's compositional comeback has been wonderfully hectic, as if all the music he didn't write in the last decade has been flooding into the current one, in a series of folk song and hymn collections that show him sticking to a particular genre as never before. With the sixth of his songbooks, Voices From the Morning of the Earth, we have a clearer idea why: The composer has hatched a particularly viable forum for his keen social awareness. Such qualities have been apparent before, but the singularity of his language could have you listen long and hard to his string quartet Black Angels and still not get its Vietnam War commentary.
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