Spring in Texas
I'm headed to Austin this weekend, where I will be busy with eating tacos I mean playing music, with two great concerts in the works.
The first is San Antonio Combustion Chamber 2011, curated by the fantastic Jack W. Stamps. Lots of great piano music and electroacoustic explorations by various cohorts. I'm playing my Piano Inventions and reprising Ian Dicke's wonderful and hilarious Get Rich Quick, which utilizes audio clips from various purveyors of financial advice. Those in the know occasionally refer to the piece as "credit card credit," for reasons you can discover by checking out video or audio of the 2009 premiere featuring yours truly.
Facebook event page here. Next Friday, 29 April, San Antone Cafe and Concerts, 7-9pm.
Then, of course, is the main event, the UT New Music Ensemble, Tuesday, 3 May at Bates Recital Hall in Austin. The estimable Franklin Gross and I will play the piano parts in Paul Bowles' Concerto for Two Pianos, Winds, and Percussion. The NME was a crucial influence during my time at UT--playing with them, being played by them, working with their guest composers, hearing all the music they'd throw out there three times a semester. It's always a fine group and I'm thrilled to play with them again, especially in the company of Franklin, a friend and favorite collaborator.
I ran across the Bowles piece through my reading of Peter Garland, who has been an advocate of Bowles' music and republished the Concerto through his Soundings Press (before it shut its doors; the Soundings edition is now available on Frog Peak Music). Literature buffs know Bowles from his fiction; he was the quintessential late twentieth-century expat writer, spending most of his mature years in North Africa weaving tight, dark novels about alienation. Musicians rarely know his name, although he was a successful composer before he started his writing career, a student of Aaron Copland who did theater projects with Tennessee Williams and Orson Welles. I'm told his songs are sometimes performed; his instrumental music is very rarely heard.
The Concerto is an absolute blast: breezy, spunky, jazzy, neoclassical, harmonically vibrant, rhythmically exciting, formally chunky. I feel a special affinity given Bowles' penchant for avoiding conventional development techniques, which have never felt natural or inevitable in my own music. When he wants to bring something back he just does it, and then just as quickly sprints off to tell you something else. Fun stuff. I'm pleased to have a hand in presenting this rare work of a brilliant polymath and true individual.
The only trouble on the horizon may be the vegetarianism I've undertaken since my last visit to Austin, which will certainly jeopardize Salt Lick- and Don Juan-related activities. Life is fraught with difficulty...
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