On July 23 and 24, Ensemble Musikfabrik (a contemporary music group from Cologne) performed Harry Partch’s final large-scale theater work, Delusion of the Fury as part of the 2015 Lincoln Center Festival. Since the work’s premiere in 1969 there have been only a handful of performances. This one is important to note because it’s the first performance in the United States featuring the near-complete replica set of Partch Instruments built by Thomas Meixner in 2012. The New York City performances were based upon the 2013 performance directed by Heiner Goebbels and produced by Ruhrtriennale, and although some aspects of the staging and costumes seemed arbitrary and distracting, the performance was executed with amazing musicality, impeccable precision, and the ensemble allowed Delusion to exert itself as a great work of art. Most importantly, the performance raises interesting questions about the legacy of Harry Partch now that more than one unique set of his instruments exists.
Back in September 2014, I moved from Brooklyn to Long Island City (in Queens). My new neighborhood was much closer to my regular job, so I was walking to work everyday. One morning at the corner of 39th Avenue and Northern Boulevard I heard a beautiful combination of sounds from traffic, trains, and people. The next week I recorded the sounds of that corner from 09:00–09:05 from Monday, September 15 to Sunday, September 21. So finally, in honor of World Listening Day, I’ve published the field recordings online.
On May 29, 2015, as part of the Composers Collective Spring Concert, Jason Wirth premiered my solo work for piano, Tombeau (for David Ward-Steinman). Dr. Ward-Steinman was one of the first people—along with fellow SDSU faculty members Joseph Waters and Brent Dutton—to encourage me to compose. He passed away earlier this year while I was in the midst of writing this piece, and since he was one of the first to teach me about 12-tone technique, I decided to dedicate the work to him. Thank you to Jason for his incredible playing, the Composers Collective for the opportunity to join their ranks on this concert, and to the staff of the National Opera Center for their support.
On July 4, 2015 the Barbershop Harmony Society’s annual International Convention and Competition came to a close with Instant Classic winning the contest and becoming the 2015 International Quartet Champions. At first glance Instant Classic doesn’t seem like the popular conception of a barbershop quartet: no striped jackets or straw hats, and their competition songs aren’t classic Tin Pan Alley songs such as “Wait Till the Sun Shines Nellie.” Instead we get a young quartet who wears sharp suits and takes the stage singing less familiar and more contemporary repertoire. Instant Classic’s six competition songs drew upon a wide swath of source material that ranged from 1920s musical theater and 1950s television theme songs to 1990s R&B. Although this may seem contrary to the barbershop tradition, it’s actually firmly within the historical tradition of barbershop quartet singing; which has made a common practice of appropriating and covering popular songs from wherever and whenever they can be found.