Friday, March 26, 2010

The Ground Beneath Her Feet (2007) is a full-length work for orchestra (including a rock trio), singers and narrator by composer Victoria Borisova-Ollas with a libretto by Edward Kemp based on the novel by Salman Rushdie. The work features a film directed by Mike Figgis. The attraction of the novel for this treatment lies in its combination of central action, linguistic and geographical colour and underlying mythic elements. The fact that many of the earliest operas and oratorios dealt with the Orpheus myth makes this millennial re-imagining a particularly attractive source for a contemporary engagement with the form. Check out a performance of this unique work . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Hans Zimmer is a composer and keyboard synthesizer player who made popular music history then became one of the most successful film score composers. Raised and educated mainly in England, he has no formal musical education; he says the most he ever got was about "two weeks of piano lessons." Nevertheless, he took an early interest in electronic musical synthesizers in the 1970s, when these were large, bulky analog devices programmed usually by means of patch cords and individual oscillator settings. He found work writing tunes and electronically scoring music for television commercials and, still in his early twenties, joined two British musicians named Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes to form a rock group called The Buggles. They produced a world-wide hit called Video Killed the Radio Star, which made music history as the first piece ever broadcast on America's music network MTV. Zimmer became interested in film music, mostly through the influence of Italian composer Ennio Morricone, but it was a meeting with another film composer, Stanley Meyers, that led Zimmer into scoring for films and into a style using classical and electronic techniques. He has scored such well known films as My Beautiful Laundrette, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Black Rain, Days of Thunder, Thelma and Louise, Crimson Tide, and two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Zimmer's best known work is the score to The Lion King, Disney's most popular animated film, which won the Academy Award. Hear Has Zimmer talks about his music . . . our COMPOSER PORTRAIT for the week.

If you want to know what contemporary ballet looks like check The Wheeldon Company’s Polyphonia (2001). That sense of modernity — the feeling that you are watching dancers of today in works of today — is what Christopher Wheeldon hopes to offer audiences. Polyphonia, set to piano pieces by Gyorgy Ligeti, delivers just such modernity. From its opening moments, when four couples move separately with spiky intensity to the thorny rhythmic thickets of Ligeti’s Désordre, you can see why: Mr. Wheeldon mirrors the sense of simultaneous chaos and order in the music, creating a thrilling what-will-happen-next? excitement . . . check this all out at our current DANSES PYTHEUSES.

Alberto Ginastera was among the most prolific and successful composers to emerge from Latin America. His music is heavily, though not universally, peppered with folk influence. His abundance of compositions for the cello is due in no small part to his second marriage to cellist Aurora Natola, who was instrumental in the composition or revision of nearly all of Ginastera's output for her instrument. Check out a performance of his delightful Pampeana No. 2 (1950) . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

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

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