When you hear some of the selections on this week's show, you won't be surprised that their composers have received so much praise for their work. Jennifer Higdon has a devoted following and avid fanbase, and her work "blue cathedral" is always a gorgeous show stopper. We'll also hear a bouncy and infectious chamber music piece by Kenneth Fuchs, who's music has received four Grammy nominations and one Grammy award so far, as well as Jonny Greenwood's score to the film "There Will Be Blood," plus music by Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caleb Burhans, and more.
John Adams' early work "Shaker Loops" helped put him on the map - a piece referencing both the "shaking and trembling" of the worship practices of this American religious sect and the act of "looping" a musical phrase (usually by mechanical means, such as with a tape recorder) to create a repeating motif. Steve features Adams' seminal work as the centerpiece of an hour of works inspired by American folk traditions and musical idioms, such as Bryce Dessner's "Murder Ballads" and Carl Schimmel's "Roadshow for Otto." In the second hour, it's a roundup of contemplative pieces from Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Julia Kent, Michael Kurth and others.
This week Steve Seel features artists who whose careers are unique enough to make classification pretty tricky. Jazz pianists Keith Jarrett and Vijay Iyer show off some of their compositions for classical strings, Steve Tibbetts plays his impressionistic solo guitar music, and we'll also hear genre-hopping works by Claude Bolling, Terry Riley, and Caleb Burhans.
Composer Michael Kurth took up the bass in the fourth grade. One of his early inspirations was Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T. & The MGs, the Stax Records studio band that backed up Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Sam and Dave. Today, he's not only a double bassist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, but a composer as well -- and Steve plays one of his compositions whose title was inspired by a piece of graffiti art he spied on the way to work. In the second hour, it's a survey of composers from non-Western countries, such as Syria (Kinan Azmeh and Dia Succari) and Georgia (Giya Kancheli).
The language and instruments of rock increasingly play a part in new classical music, to the point where some classically-trained musicians are making music that wouldn't be out of place at all on a rock record. And yet, the experience of such music lends itself not to the rock club, but to more classically-oriented spaces like theaters or concert halls. This week Steve plays some examples - from Caleb Burhans' achingly gorgeous "A Moment for Jason Molina" to music by Aidan O'Rourke, Wim Mertens, Howard Skempton and more.
It might surprise you that more than a few composers working today have a strong affinity for early music, dating from the Renaissance, Baroque, or even earlier. Why is that? Steve features music by Arvo Part -- a composer whose inspirations sometimes reach back as far as the middle ages -- as well as a piece by Michael Nyman written for the early music group Fretwork and the music of Philip Glass performed by the baroque group The King's Violins and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.
In pop music, "sampling" has become almost as commonplace as the rock n' roll backbeat itself. The practice of basing a piece of music on a short snippet of previously-recorded music or sound is everywhere these days in pop ... but does it ever occur in modern classical music? Steve Seel features a number of pieces that incorporate recorded sound-samples into their score as part of the musical texture, such as Mason Bates' work called "The B Sides" and Paula Mathusen's "On the Attraction for Felicitous Amplitude." Also, modern rock continues its influence on the music of Philip Glass, in his "Heroes" Symphony, inspired by the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno.
As recently as 20 years ago, the phrase "female composer" brought to mind a short-list of familiar names -- a handful of women who had managed to smash the gates of what had been a male-dominated fortress for centuries. While the contributions of the likes of Amy Beach, Joan Tower, and Libby Larsen have been immense toward putting cracks in the classical glass ceiling, the burgeoning number of women composers today have created an exponentially growing world of musical discovery - to the point when unfamiliar names are happily becoming the norm. Steve Seel samples a handful of them this week as our observation of Women's History Month continues.
Guest host: Melissa Ousley Melissa Ousley brings her expansive knowledge of music to the program this week, and her sensitive ear and attention to the details for all of her selections comes through. John Cage's "In a Landscape" serves as an example of how Cage perhaps had a greater impact on music of the 20th century than any other composer, through his emphasis on silence, space, and Eastern philosophies. John Adams' "Hallelujah Junction" for two pianos takes the contrapuntal minimalism of the 1970s to dizzying new heights, and Jesse Montgomery's "Coincident Dances" depicts what the composer calls the "profoundly multicultural experience" of living in New York City.
Guest host: Ward Jacobsen The official beginning of spring is right around the corner, and this week on Extra Eclectic, things are beginning to thaw -- and the water is flowing again. We hear James Stephenson's "Liquid Melancholy," selections from "Rivers" by Ann Southam, and Mason Bates' celebrated work for orchestra and electronics, "Liquid Interface." Ward Jacobsen guest hosts this week, and he also features music by John Tavener, Keith Jarret, and more.