July 5, 2015 |
In the new-Latin alternative-music continuum, Mexican actress/singer Ximena Sariñana is a regal figure, both pop and esoteric, a vocalist and composer whose strange, elegant, and occasionally raucous songs sound like St. Vincent singing John Barry's themes for 1960s James Bond flicks along the shores of Brazil. The tropical sway, the grandeur of epic, arching chords, the angular riffing of fuzztone guitars and synths - magnificent. That's the vibe Sariñana and her opening act, Dominican singer-songwriter Alex Ferreira (whose band backed Sariñana)
June 20, 2015 |
When Facing Front , a retrospective of work by the team of Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion, opens Friday at Neighborhood House, audiences might not be sure what they're seeing. Is it movement theater? Dance/music performance art? Something else, louche yet formal? Fargion, a composer, often uses no music while moving throughout a piece. Burrows, a choreographer, hums and sings while not moving much at all. "We're at the tentative start of a new project," Burrows says, "and I'm painfully reminded how difficult and un-useful it is to try and delineate what you do. Because as soon as you think you know what it is, it becomes only a poor representation of yourself.
April 22, 2015 |
Philadelphia composer Michael Hersch usually leaves you gasping - cognitively speaking - to keep up. Not that he wants to leave anybody behind. He provides explanations as detailed as any GPS for the long distances his pieces travel. But in his new song cycle, a breath upwards, Hersch stopped me in my tracks as he explored a narrower-than-usual range of sound, harmony and gesture, requiring a more minute exploration of the tension between music and texts from Dante's Inferno and related ones by Ezra Pound.
April 18, 2015 |
The entrance to what's promised to be Philadelphia's hottest music club come fall is a gravel lot under an I-95 overpass. Now, it's just an abandoned metal factory in Fishtown - windows long blown out, covered in graffiti. But by fall, developers promise, it will be home to the Fillmore, a 2,500-seat music hall that promoter Live Nation aims to fill with big-name talent, as well as the Foundry, a more intimate venue with room for 450 aimed at local bands and up-and-coming talent, and a lounge.
March 28, 2015 |
Kuf Knotz is the Philadelphia hip-hop universe's peaceable guy, a righteous dude whose lyrics are loving, whose rhythms are supple, and whose every move is all about the bass and the brotherhood. Considering how tense things are in America, Knotz is a model citizen of bliss, an art form in and of himself, as heard on albums such as Boombox Logic and his brand-new A Positive Light . "A musical outlet helps me stay propitious by letting me express - put my feelings and energy into - new music," says Knotz, a Bryn Mawr native who moved to Philadelphia nine years ago. "I also don't watch the news much, instead focusing on my direct interactions with people.
March 25, 2015 |
Harvey D. Wedeen, 87, of Center City, chairman of the keyboard department at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance for nearly five decades and a force behind starting many of the school's degree programs, died Friday, March 13, at home. Mr. Wedeen became a faculty member at Temple in 1964, and was director of the well-regarded Temple University Music Institute at Ambler from 1971 to 1975 and the music festival's artistic director in 1974 and 1975. He helped establish the school's doctoral program in performance; the master's program in accompanying and chamber music; master's programs in piano performance and pedagogy; the Center City Temple Prep; and a program to bring free music lessons to local children.
March 3, 2015 |
Any artistic cutting edge can come with the sensation of falling off a cliff. The listener is bewildered for a bit, until someone (often the composer) shows how the most forbidding concoctions have precedents in the past. Rarely, though, has the road map to such precedents been established with the concrete as it was in a talk before Bhob Rainey's Axon Ladder Friday at Vox Populi. Was this an advanced calculus class? At the same time such well-known composers as Stephen Hartke and Louis Karchin unveiled their response to the visual stimuli at the Barnes Foundation in a Network for New Music concert, Rainey was at the gallery wrestling with music based on mathematical abstractions of squid neurons so big they were studied in the pre-high-tech era. Some skepticism is warranted - attention-grabbing concepts don't necessarily unleash worthy music.
February 27, 2015 |
Four contemporary classical composers walk into an art museum. No punch line. But after walking in, this quartet of composers eventually walked away having penned four new compositions, which Network for New Music will premiere Friday at the Barnes Foundation - amid the art and spaces that inspired them. The obvious historical precedent is Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition , a vivid series of musical evocations connected by a recurring promenade. Each of Network's new pieces assumes a different form, chamber-music instrumentation, and philosophy about using the eye to tease out a translation for the ear. "Music is the most incorporeal art, and, while we all accept that it is very much like a language, it is a non-representational one," said Stephen Hartke, who produced The Blue Studio , inspired by the cobalt walls in Matisse's Studio with Goldfish , which are the same shade as his own workroom in Los Angeles.
February 15, 2015 |
Drake pulls a Beyoncé Drake is the latest music star to spring a surprise album on his fans in the middle of the night. Just before midnight on Thursday, all Beyoncé -style, he dropped the excellently titled If You're Reading This It's Too Late . It was rumored that the Canadian rapper, last heard from with Nothing Was the Same in 2013, had new music on the way, but not a full-fledged 17-song album, which If You're Reading...
February 12, 2015 |
The East-meets-West nexus in classical music still comes with so much creative leeway and remains so uncodified that a program titled "New Music From Asia" means that the only possible preconceived notion is the complete lack of one. In fact, the best-known composer in Orchestra 2001's Sunday program in Swarthmore delivered the most unexpected sounds. In Distance by Tan Dun sounded nothing like the composer's recent concert works (not to mention his Oscar-winning film music) - thanks to a particularly strong Chinese accent.