Despite all that has been going on in Italy with the “shelter in place” imperatives as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, I was stunned to receive two reviews from Luciano Feliciani and Filippo Focosi. I’m so incredibly grateful, of course, but more than that, I’m inspired by these writers who continue with their incredibly generous work featuring other artists. I’ve included translations of the reviews below, if it might be helpful.
VOX:
http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=7572
George Crumb, one of the most important composers on the American contemporary scene, opens this interesting CD with his original composition VOX BALENAE. Inspired by the fascinating and enchanting song of the whales, the song is written for three ‘masked’ performers engaged respectively in the electronic flute, electronic cello and electronic piano. An abstract, ethereal and floating work, just like whales suspended in the ocean, full of effects that imitate now the hiss of their voice, now the song of the seagulls, reproducing in the background a liquid and changeable atmosphere that tells the marine abysses. Starting from a main theme, the author composes five complex variations on it, then returns to the final epilogue by re-presenting the initial melody. The other compositions presented in this work are, each for its own peculiarity, equally interesting and of remarkable workmanship. BENCHARONG by Narong Prangcharoen, for example, musically describes in a very original way the decorations of the typical Thai porcelain vases starting from the beautiful basic colors that compose them. SILVER DAGGER by Stacy Garrop, develops in a contemporary and eclectic way a sweet folksong of the Appalachian mountains, while MELODIES FOR ROBERT by Carter Pann is an intimate song dedicated to the memory of Robert Vincent Jones, musician and war hero. The quality of execution and interpretation by the Heare Ensemble is truly remarkable and gives a special and intense touch to all the compositions.
GIANTESS:
http://www.kathodik.it/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=7578&fbclid=IwAR3TLTmEIwxzspIg6G-_VrPiWSG3a8opgjsM5TPZzXfNWCYRdL3pbxw3i5A
The flutist Jennie Oh Brown returns to record for Innova Recordings, accompanied by the pianist and composer Carter Pann, performing works by the same Pann together with works by four composers. These are pages that in many cases put a strain on musicians, and especially the flutist, for the extraordinary level of virtuosity required; a virtuosity, it must be said, never an end in itself, being instead functional to the narrative plots underlying the dynamics of each piece. If some compositions are distinguished by their brilliance and rhythmic flexibility, sometimes influenced by the syncopated figurations typical of jazz (this is the case of S. Ran, V. Coleman, C. Pann), in others it emerges in the foreground a pronounced lyricism , which never gives in to sentimentalism (Pann’s Melodies for Robert, the piece by A. Read Thomas where the piano is replaced by a string [quartet]), and which sometimes feeds on folk inspirations (Amazing Grace by Misook Kim) . Although the dialogue between the instruments is always intense, dense, when not enhanced by the complex scores of the authors, in the song that gives the title to the CD, Giantess still signed by Carter Pann, there is a sort of challenge between the mighty chord passages of the piano and the rhapsodic peregrinations of the flute; a duel in which, once more, the extraordinary performers emerge from the winners, called to explore a variety of timbres and registers with apparent, and admirable, ease.

I was beyond thrilled to discover that highly respected music critic Howard Reich included Giantss among his Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2019!

To be included in a list among such stellar artists is beyond my imagination, but what I’m especially grateful for is that Howard truly heard what all of us, composers and musicians alike, were trying to communicate — it’s courage, it’s fearlessness, it’s resilience. I’m so grateful… words cannot even express!

On November 10th, Constellation Chicago’s Frequency Series presented my album release concert for my commercially released album Giantess.  Constellation Chicago is the premiere venue for new music in Chicago, and in fact it is the only venue in town that presents exclusively contemporary music.  I especially love the casual feel of the concert experience at Constellatiuon Chicago with the audience wrapped around the stage.  It feels almost like a larger version of playing for friends in my living room, complete with a glass of wine for guests at the end.  I was thrilled to have friends and family join me for this late night concert and to be able to share this music that I love so much with everyone.

I was especially grateful to the Illinois Arts Council who supported the concert and to respected arts writer Wynne Delacoma who wrote this wonderful review of the concert.  I was so thrilled to see the individual pieces written about with such eloquence.  Chicago musicians have always appreciated the musical expertise of Wynne’s writing.

Here’s a snapshot of the evening as captured by the wonderful Forestt Strong Lafave.  I’d love for you to check out the album Giantess now available on all streaming platforms and sellers everywhere!  (Innova 043)

Performing Misook Kim’s Amazing Grace and Valerie Coleman’s Wish Sonatine with my esteemed Wheaton College colleague Daniel Paul Horn.

Performing Carter Pann’s Melodies for Robert with Paula Kosower, cello, and Jennifer Blyth, piano.  Lush, free, and beautiful playing and writing.

Performing Shulamit Ran’s Birds of Paradise and Carter Pann’s Giantess and Double Espresso with Kuang-Hao Huang, three tons of piano playing for my wonderful partner.

 

Below, performing Augusta Read Thomas’ Plea for Peace with string quartet: Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, Kate Carter, Dominic Johnson, and Paula Kosower.  Such gorgeous playing that brought the profoundly expressive yet transparent quality of this piece to the stage.

Carter Pann talks about working together in an impromptu chat with the audience.  I am certain that I will forever consider this to be one of my most meaningful and fun professional projects.

Launching into Double Espresso… and thinking about that high E I’ll hit at the end!

The second concert of our series “New Music Chicago Presents” was a fabulous showcase of the music of composer Marc Mellits.  As the first recipient of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Artspace Program Grant, the series is held each month on the THIRD THURSDAY at noon in the Chicago Cultural Center’s beautiful Claudia Cassidy Theater.  “New Music Chicago Presents” features New Music Chicago members performing music written since 2000 by living composers.

Marc’s program included:

Max for Violin & Piano (2013)
Agu for solo piano (2004)
String Quartet No. 4: Prometheus, movement VII – allegro groove” (2011)
Farfalle Cotte for 2 violins (2006)
Mara’s Lullaby for Violin & Piano (2005/09)
Titan for Bass Clarinet & String Quartet (2018) – CHICAGO PREMIERE

 

 

Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events giving a warm welcome to “New Music Chicago Presents…” audience and New Music Chicago members.

Introducing the concert…

Artists on stage: Cristina Buciu, Elizabeth Brausa-Brathwaite, Aurelian Pederzoli, Nicholas Carlson, Victor Sotelo, composer Marc Mellits, Marie Alatalo, Jennifer Blyth.

 

The Chicago Premiere of TITAN for Bass Clarinet and String Quartet.

I could not be more thrilled that Howard Reich, Music Critic of the Chicago Tribune, chose to feature New Music Chicago Presents…  the concert series that I developed and curate.

Join us every THIRD THURSDAY at NOON each month for contemporary music written since 2000 by living composers!  Every concert is free and held in Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center – 78 E Washington.  I would love to see you there!

 

Picosa performed for Live from WFMT with Kerry Frumkin last night with an illustrious audience of guests.  It was a wonderful broadcast filled with interesting conversations.  If you’d like to listen, feel free to click here.

PROGRAM:

Debussy – Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, transcribed by Jonathon Kirk

Turina – Cìrculo Trio, Op 91

Ran – Mirage

Haydn – London Trio No. 1 in C Major

Copland – Appalachian Spring, transcribed by Jonathon Kirk

MUSICIANS:

Andrea DiOrio, clarinets

Elizabeth Brausa Brathwaite, violin

Kurt Fowler, cello

Kuang-Hao Huang, piano

Jonathon Kirk, Composer-in-Residence

Kasia Johnson, Executive Board President

and myself!

April and May were unusual months for me on the publishing front!  In April, I enjoyed being interviewed by Julie Marcotte, editor of Pipeline Magazine and local professional, to talk about the juggling act that so many of us share who manage both families and careers.  It was fun to speak openly about the fun and struggles of these two aspects of my life that are so precious to me.

In the May issue of Flute Talk Magazine, editor Patricia George asked me to contribute a “Meet the Pro” column on any topic of my choosing.  So, I chose something that I thought might be useful to a broad segment of our flutist population: performance anxiety.  I hope that readers found it useful!

If you are not already a member of the Chicago Flute Club and/or a subscriber to Flute Talk Magazine, I highly recommend both!  I learn so much every time I read a Pipeline or a Flute Talk Magazine, and the communities of flutists who contribute to both of these periodicals and the Chicago Flute Club are dedicated accomplished professionals.  Check them out!