Thursday, October 22, 2009

The New Yorker has called composer Stephen Paulus "...a bright, fluent inventor with a ready lyric gift." His prolific output of more than four hundred works is represented in many genres, including music for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, solo voice, keyboard and opera. Watch a performance of his Poemas de Amor (2006) for chorus and marimba by the Taylor Festival Choir . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Stanley Fefferman has written of Ann Southam's Simple Lines of Enquiry (2008): "The 12 movements of Simple Lines of Enquiry (2008) ‘depict’ slight-to-subtle variations of seemingly similar musical lines, hues and tonal materials. And, just as the experience of visual art occurs in a silent gallery, so the experience of this musical event, these sound paintings generate an atmosphere of silence. Typically, you hear the pianist play a cluster of 5-10 notes which are allowed to hang in the air, mingle their overtones, and fade away into near silence before the next cluster appears. These tone rows vibrate ... like beads of different sizes, threaded at varying intervals along a continuity of overtones that seems to emerge as a principle subject of the music — a simple line of enquiry. The melodies, such as they are, involve much repetition, like a lullaby. The end effect is to focus the mind and relax it at the same time, creating a steady state that binds the attack and flux of each note and each cluster together as a thing itself." Read more about Ann Southam, her music and Eve Egoyan's recording of Simple Lines of Enquiry (2008) at our current FEATURED RECORDING.

From Only the Cinema: "Federico Fellini's film "8 1/2" (1963) transforms the director's preoccupation with his own creative difficulties and his tangled relationships with women into a wild film where fantasy and reality blend together seamlessly. Fellini packs the film with fantasies, dreams and nightmares, many of them loosely based on his own experiences, and all of it propelled by the jaunty music of Fellini's frequent collaborator, composer Nino Rota." Watch an excerpt from this amazing film - this week's PYTHEAS SIGHTING.

The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music turned 70 this past April, a significant anniversary that most people would probably find difficult to believe. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich remains a strikingly youthful presence, with her sparkling blue eyes, ever-present smile and good cheer. "I don’t feel it," says Zwilich. "Suddenly you turn around and there are all these candles on the cake. I’ve worked very hard for many, many years and it’s just kind of nice to feel that you’re at the top of your game - and (she adds with a laugh) that people are celebrating your ancient status." Zwilich's (pronounced SWILL-ik) witty, unpretentious personality belie her determination and toughness, qualities necessary for a female composer to make her way in a male-dominated profession, particularly three decades ago when a woman composer was still viewed as something of an eccentric novelty. She has been remarkably prolific, writing in all genres except opera, and has created a significant, extensive body of work. Watch Franklin Howell perform her Lament for Piano (1999) . . . FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

Explore, Listen and Enjoy!
Vinny Fuerst
Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

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