Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gloria Coates is an American composer, living in Munich, Germany, since 1969, who has the honor of being the most prolific woman symphonist we have today. She also studied with Alexander Tcherepnin and has been a tireless advocate for American music overseas and at home, where she also maintains a residence. Kyle Gann, critic, composer, and vocal supporter of contemporary music, has served as an advocate of Coates and her music for many years. Her music is quite difficult to categorize. One might say that she remains at the forefront of "modern" music, and one cannot approach her work in a traditional manner. She relies heavily on string glissandos, and if you heard only one of her pieces you might think it mere gimmickry. However, the technique is found everywhere in her work, and so the conclusion must be that there is something about it that she feels really expresses something deep down [notes by Steven Ritter @ Audiophile Audition]. Watch a performance of Gloria Coates' Nightscape (2008) played by Christine Hoock (double bass) and Dianne Frazer (piano) . . . it's one of our NEW MUSIC VIDEOS for the week.

Here's an interesting perspective on Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks from arturs86, a member of the Discussion Forum: "As a Latvian, myself, I would like to try to show Pēteris Vasks from my point of view. He always was against the Soviet Union, its system and its aggression etc. But Vasks never made his music offensive. Rather he included semantic meaning in his music - using chorals, songs of a birds, motives or characters of Latvian folk songs etc. After the Soviet era, the main idea  in Vasks' music is still the same - spirituality over everything. His father was a pastor, so Christian ideology and that point of view is an essential part of his music. Vasks finds his greatest inspiration in nature. He also feels closer to God 'in nature' than 'in church'. The main topics in his music are: (1) The Latvian nation, its faith. Homeland. Also its history. His music often uses folk motives, but he would rather use the intonation and feeling of folk music than an exact quotation of it; (2) the Beauty of nature. Seasons of a year, voices of birds etc.; (3) Birds. They are symbols of time, nature, life and freedom. Unlike Olivier Messiaen, though, Vasks does not use the voices of specific birds. They are just associative; (4) Human Existence, life as a wonder. And also the presence of death; (5) Silence. You can find a lot of extreme examples of silence in Vasks' music; and (6) Light in all possible types. Usually gentle, radiant. As a hope, as a way out, as a faith or conviction" [check the whole conversation out at]. And please listen to a performance of Pēteris Vasks' Landscape with Birds (1980) . . . one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

The conceptual and multifaceted composer Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world's music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical, multimedia, Eastern and Western musical systems. Central to his body of work, Tan Dun has composed distinct series of works which reflect his individual compositional concepts and personal ideas - among them a series which brings his childhood memories of shamanistic ritual into symphonic performances; works which incorporate elements from the natural world; and multimedia concerti. Opera has a significant role in his creative output and of his many works for film, the score for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, received an Oscar for best original score. Hear Tan Dun talk about his life and music . . . it's our COMPOSER PORTRAIT for the week.

. . . and listen to more from Tan Dun - his 1992 composition Circle . . . another of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

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