Monday, March 8, 2010

Written for Yo Yo Ma, and commissioned by the Pacific Symphony for Dr. George Cheng in honor of his wife Arlene, Bright Sheng's 7 Tunes Heard in China is based on seven folk tunes the composer heard in China: I. Seasons; II. Guessing Song; III. The Little Cabbage; IV. The Drunken Fisherman; V. Diu Diu Dong; VI. Pastoral Ballade; VII. Tibetan Dance. Watch performances of Little Cabbage and Seasons by cellists Nicholas Finch and Jerry Liu . . . this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Nick Burton writes, "Dziga Vertov’s most famous film, A Man with a Movie Camera (1929), is the ultimate example of his radical documentary style, and while he made the film with the Stalin regime overseeing the project, there is something very subversive at work here. For all it’s imagery of the triumph of Soviet industrialization, the film questions the very nature of the images it portrays. Ostensibly a day in the life of the Soviet Union from early morning to the five o’clock work whistle, the film is an astonishing torrent of images edited in a then experimental, almost avant-garde style of short, rapid edits. The film begins slowly with the silent city being watched over by surreal store mannequins, but as the city comes steadily to life, the rhythms of the editing increase, and the film soon teems with fast images of transportation – trains, street cars, planes come buzzing to life – and with intercut opposing images of people waking – first a well-to-do woman, then a homeless man on a park bench. It’s a simple, effective way of illustrating the dialectics of society, the ebb and flow of life from morning to evening, from birth to death (a real birth is cut with scenes of a funeral). Images here are of machinery and factories, whirring with artificial life dominate, with every gear and lever framed meticulously as if it were abstract art. But with the introduction of the cameraman himself – a newsreel cameraman like Vertov himself whom we see filming from time to time – and of the film’s editor, who we see at several points in the film editing the reels of film, the film becomes more than a simple documentary. Few documentaries are so aware of the manufacturing of images: Indeed there is a scene of the editor intercut with shots of seamstresses, implying that film, like any other industrial product, is processed and controlled – something that doesn’t speak well for the truth of images. And when we see the cameraman behind his camera, we realize that we are seeing a false image; we are seeing a man playing a cameraman whom is himself being filmed. We are at the mercy of the invented reality of cinema, no matter how much objective truth is being offered by its images. Vertov never lets you forget that, before all else, this is cinema". All this, and a score by Michael Nyman . . . our PYTHEAS SIGHTING for the week.

Contemporary music in Norway is a field that combines vibrant activity with a wide international reputation. Besides being innovative creators and performers of composed music, Norway’s younger generation of composers and musicians are also venturing into improvisation, jazz, 'noise' and mixed media arts. There is also a small but growing interest in contemporary fiddle players (see section on Folk music and dance). Notable among contemporary Norwegian composers having achieved international acclaim are Arne Nordheim (b. 1931), Lasse Thoresen (b. 1949), Olav Anton Thommessen (b. 1946), Rolf Wallin (b. 1957), Cecilie Ore (b. 1954), Sven Lyder Kahrs (b. 1959) and Jon Øivind Ness (b. 1968). Young and aspiring Norwegian composers with growing international exposure are Maja S K Ratkje (b. 1973), Eivind Buene (b. 1973) and Lars Petter Hagen (b. 1975). Ratkje and Wallin are the foremost examples of artists combining the roles of composer and performer. Check all this out at Norway Cultural Profile (Cultural Profiles Project) . . . our current FEATURED NEW MUSIC WEBSITE.

Composer Lee Actor has won a number of awards for his compositions, most recently for Redwood Fanfare, which was one of three winners of the 2009 Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Competition, and the Concerto for Horn and Orchestra (2007), which was the First Prize Winner in the 2007 International Horn Society Composition Contest. Watch a performance of Actor's Horn Concerto by hornist Patrick Hughes and the St. Olaf Orchestra . . . this week's FROM THE PYTHEAS ARCHIVES.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment