Monday, August 30, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Dragons, Oh My! The Music of Video Games

Hi Friends,

Ever wonder what we're really like - as the "voices" behind the NML in the US? Well look no further than the latest blog posting on the official Naxos of America blog, Portara! Head on over and have a listen - it's music you may have never heard before!

Happy Gaming!

Join in the conversation!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Living Music

When most people think of classical music they think of the tried and true standbys of opera and orchestra—Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Verdi, Debussy, and so on.
You know, the dead white guys.
But when you love classical music like we do, you know that we also need to look forward in order to keep it growing and vital.
Today I want to briefly look at a few living composers who continue to change the face of art music by pushing boundaries, blending uncommon elements, or just quietly filling the world with the beautiful.

David Lang (b. 1957)
I have a slight obsession with the work of Bang On A Can co-founder David Lang. I’m deep in score study on his Pulitzer Prize-winning Little Match Girl Passion for SATB soli and percussion. Lang’s work is known to be quite easy on the ear-- especially as far as postminimalist composers go—but it is in truth mathematically conceived, heavily structured, and driven by fidelity to meter. Pieces like his orchestral work Pierced demonstrate the surprisingly accessible result of this percussionist’s metrical attention.
Lang also pushes the boundaries of art music by bringing in popular references. From Jimi Hendrix (Are You Experienced?) to reworking the Velvet Underground tune “Heroin” into an 11-minute, lush motivic meditation for voice and cello.

Found it on the NML:
- Pierced / 8.559615 / orch
- Heroin / 8.559615 / chamber
- Are you Experienced? / CHAN9363 / orch
- Memory Pieces / INNOVA734 / solo piano

Hilary Tann ( b. 1947)
Tann is a Welsh-born composer now living and working in the U.S. Her compositional style is often described as being reflective of her environmental background in Wales: lyrical, unvarnished, spare. The lyricism in her works, however, is at little risk for mawkishness by virtue of the composer’s astute attention to texture and harmony.
The Moor, an a cappella duet for soprano and mezzo-soprano, pits two voices, two textures, two rhythmic functions, against one another and allows them to rub and pass one another like feet on a bare floor. Though Tann’s Welsh heritage informs much of her output, she is known to draw inspiration from yet another culture noted for appreciation of simplicity. After cultivating a musicological interest for some time, Tann took a short teaching residence in the Kansai region of Japan and pursued study of the shakuhachi, or Japanese bamboo flute, which appears in several of her works.

Found it on the NML:
- Llef / PH05019 / chamber
- The Cresset Stone / PH05019 / chamber
- Shakkei / NSR1048 / orch

Osvaldo Golijov (b. 1960)
Born in Argentina to Eastern-European Jewish parents, Osvaldo Golijov spent his early life surrounded by tango, klezmer, Jewish liturgical, and classical chamber music. From this uncommon musical soup came a composer with a singular voice and a broad compositional scope.
Golijov’s music can swing between Jewish and Latin American cultures with astonishing speed, though most of his pieces have a prevailing cultural language. His work La Pasion Segun San Marcos (St. Mark Passion) is a massive bombshell of a piece, turning the genre dominated by Bach on its ear with blaring brass, pulsating percussion, and Spanish text. Other pieces, such as klezmer-influenced works Yiddishbbuk and Rocketeyka, have a distinctly Jewish tone. Still others, like Mariel for cello and marimba and much of his vocal work recorded by Dawn Upshaw, simply showcase a composer with an acutely advanced harmonic language.

Found it on the NML:
- La Pasion Segun San Marcos / CD98.404 / oratorio
- Yiddishbbuk / DSL-92108 / chamber
- Tenebrae / ORC100012 / chamber

Pro musica,


Friday, August 13, 2010

Hey, Good-Lookin'

You may have noticed some changes taking place that are starting to make this blog look pretty good. For instance, the orange-and-tan combo is gone! Things have been streamlined and reorganized! It could be 2010 instead of 1999!

But upping the pretty factor is not the only change that will be taking place on the NML blog.
In fact, we are going to blow this thing wide open.

From now on we plan to make this blog more functional and up-to-date. We want to make getting information a simple and enjoyable experience for you. We want to open up our content to include things that we are passionate about: more music content, more arts education content, more in general as we will be posting every week.

Don’t worry; you will still get your updates on the tech and usage side of the NML.

But along with those updates, maybe you’ll find something excellent to listen to, a point to raise in class, or a new angle on an issue. Maybe you’ll just get to know us better and feel more comfortable asking questions.

Want to get involved in what we’ve got cooking? Let us know what you want to see here by commenting, e-mailing, tweeting, or facebooking us.

We wanted to make things better for you because that’s what we are about--making classical music accessible.

Pro musica,