Archive for the 'premiere' Category
As the weather begins to turn hopefully for the better, my performances and projects also become more interesting and more intense, most especially in the next couple of weeks. This is an exciting time! I’m writing to share these events and hope that some of you can join me and my amazing cast of collaborators for some of these.
On Wednesday, April 17 I will be working in John Kilgore’s amazing studio with my fellow OCTET horn section buddies Alan Ferber and Mike Gurfield to record the final tracks for OCTET’s new CD, featuring the work of California composer William Susman. This will be the dynamic ensemble’s first studio CD and I believe it will be released and available later this year on Belarca and distributed by Naxos.
The next two days, April 18 and 19, bring unique collaborations with other saxophonists and traditional Indian musicians in Saxophones & Swaras. The brainchild of new York City composer David Claman, these events bring together saxophonists Christopher Creviston and Noa Evan and traditional Indian musicians Sankari Krishnam, V.V.S. Murai, and Ranja Swaminathan with yours truly. The April 18 event is a concert and workshop at CUNY Lehman College, while the Friday April 19 event is a concert at the beautiful Tenri Cultural Institute; a concert not to be missed! Along with playing traditional South Indian music and the new music of David Claman, I will also perform my ‘ode to the aging hipster’ composition Soho Sophisticate.
On April 24 I will be giving the premiere of Christopher Kaufman’s epic Music From Earth for saxophone and electronics as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Manhattan Producer’s Alliance presentation. I premiered the first version of this work during my 2007-08 Eurasian solo tour (with the first performance of the work in Tashkent, Uzbekistan). Chris and I decided to create a stronger, leaner version of the work and this is what will be presented for the first time on April 24 at Zirzamin at 5:00.
As the spring continues, there will be more events–and more news–to share. In fact, I will be announcing some very special performances very shortly…stay tuned!
Hello again, yes, so soon.
I decided to expand upon what I told you about my Children’s Songs over the weekend.
Yes, I did finish revising these, but I pretty much left them the way they were when I originally wrote them in 1994. Here’s why:
I was living in Arizona at the time and studying with Chinary Ung. Chinary really was one of the few things that were keeping me grounded at that period of my life, where I was reevaluating what and who I was, and deciding what to do with the next phase. One of the others was my friend Charles Wells.
Charles was a brilliant pianist and composer, also studying with Chinary at the time. He was a close and dear friend, and along with my good friend Sean Heim part of our circle of composers. Charles was very important to me because he helped me learn about holistic living and spirituality (he was a Christian in the most pure and absolute sense) after my devastating and near fatal illness in the early 90′s (diagnosed first as spinal meningitis, later as encephalitis, they still don’t know what happened…). Charles introduced me to yoga and its advanced concepts, a practice which has been part of my daily life for well over 20 years, and which I completely believe is the reason that I can walk (and can still play music) post-illness and that I am healthy and strong now. He was the most humble and giving man I have ever known, and I can only strive to be like him. Charles was a true friend, a brother, a teacher, a member of my spiritual family…the Children’s Songs were written for him to premiere on piano, which he did beautifully in April of 1994.
My life decisions were made at that point; I was to return to Boston, back to New England Conservatory to continue my education. I left a month after that performance, pleased with what I had learned as a composer and artist; more blessed with what I had experienced as a spirit. As a man, I felt transformed and ready for the next stage.
Charles was killed over Thanksgiving, 2009 in a car accident. He was driving through the desert night, more than likely to help someone in need. Sean called to tell me as I was walking into a gig…I was able to play, not because of any sort of strength or will on my part, but because I believe I was so stunned as to not be able to do–or think–anything else other than play.
So the Children’s Songs, then, represent not only a very powerful period of change and decision, but also one of silent and gentle reflection on a kind soul who helped me beyond words.
They will stay as I wrote them.
It’s actually amazing, but to give you a little compositional insight to my then 25 year old mind–just a little–I used a magic square technique with the pitches which physically/conceptually could also be seen as a prayer mandala…I didn’t remember this until I was revising the pieces. Kind of George Crumb meets Tibetan Buddhism. By the way, the seventh song is based on the melody of the Thanksgiving Hymn We Gather Together…one of my all time favorite melodies…in my song, however, it is quite abstracted. You can also hear it in my guitar piece A Child Sings at Thanksgiving , which is based on the seventh song.
But…this does not mean that the pieces will only be in this original form. After I finished the revision, the pieces would not let me be. The kept haunting my waking hours and were on my mind as I was trying to sleep…so, today I made a decision.
I decided to keep the piano version, but also to expand them by rewriting them for Pierrot ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano), making them fuller and longer. I started this project today and am pleased so far with the results. This way, I can update them without loosing the spirit of the original. Next, I plan to take the new version to the next level by rewriting them for chamber orchestra. I believe that the pieces will work in all of these settings.
And it will be fun…granted, it may be reliving my past, it may even be updating it, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I can embrace who I was when and what decisions I had made to bring me (one way or another) to where I am now. And by exploring this music again, I can give honor and respect to those who helped me in my need…and perhaps thank them.
These last couple of weeks have been pretty packed with ‘stuff’–events, concerts, guest lectures, composing–you know, ‘stuff’…I’ve always liked the word ‘stuff’…always seems appropriate and less erudite (or obnoxiously arrogant) as something like ‘impedimenta’ or some such…’stuff’ is folksy, I like it.
Firstly, a warm thank you to the faculty and staff of the Music Department of Allegheny College for having me out for a short residency last week. It’s always wonderful to be taken out of one’s routine periodically, and most especially when that involves education. One has the opportunity to reevaluate one’s methods and concepts and to help a new crop of students, or at least to give them a new perspective of how to approach music making or writing. I always have encouraged my students to get as many opinions on things as possible, and I truly believe that the variety of points of view can be greatly beneficial for students in their development.
During the residency, I conducted the saxophone section of the big band, guest lectured at a music appreciation class, conducted a composition seminar, taught a performance master class, and rehearsed and performed a 2-1/2 hour concert featuring both my music and pieces by some of my favorite composers (and friends!), like Alex Shapiro, Alexandra Gardner, Molly Thompson, Jill Miller-Thorn, Joan Tower, and Denise Broadhurst. As you may know, I try to play Denise’s (who died in 2008) music whenever appropriate. It’s always difficult to play her work Not Waving, But Drowning (saxophone and video) because her voice is narrating on the video. It took me a couple of days of practicing the piece until I could get through–barely–without tearing up…
This residency was made possible by the incredible work and gentle consideration of a dear friend, Wendy (Cavett) Plyler, who is the staff accompanist at Allegheny. In 21st century fashion, we reconnected on Facebook after many years (we were classmates at New England Conservatory) and almost immediately began talking about the possibility of me coming there (I don’t actually remember who’s idea it initially was, but she knew–or I told her–that I did residencies somewhat regularly). She made it all happen. The *best* part was that I had the honor and opportunity to play with her on my concert, and we gave the US premiere of my clarinet and piano piece Gymnopaedia (I gave the world premiere with Susanne Kessel at Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany in 2008); the piece has had many performances in different incarnations, but not the original. Wendy was absolutely fabulous to work with! I am truly grateful to her for making this residency happen, and for such an amazing educational experience (for the students AND me).
Tomorrow will be the March installment of Serial Underground at the Cornelia Street Cafe here in NYC. This concert will feature the wonderful music of my great friend, California-based composer William Susman. Bill will be performing selections of Book I and Book II of his Quiet Rhythms for solo piano, with video projections by artist David Irving Weiner. I will also join Bill on stage for a live performance of Native New Yorker, his award winning film as composer and producer; we will perform the film score live to the film. Some of you may know that I have performed this film score live many times on tour across Europe and Asia. This will be great fun to do it here again in NYC tomorrow. Doors open at 5:45, $20 at the door. C’mon down…if I haven’t mentioned this before (and I have, actually…) the food and wine at the Cafe is pretty much to die for…
So…I began my exploration of my ‘larval stage’ as a composer (pre-2004) by rewriting and editing my Children’s Songs for solo piano. Most of you know by now that I have engaged in a new project to ‘update’ all of my earlier works–finished and un–and bring them into my oeuvre. This delicate, short, seven movement piece from 1994 seemed the best place to start since it was a piece where my soundscape was already very evident and for the fact that it was the last piece I wrote under the tutelage of Chinary Ung, my most important composition teacher (we worked together for three years).
Many of my colleagues at that time (and mind you, I am guilty of this, as well) we’re writing very complex, atonal music. I wanted to counterbalance this some, so I decided to create a piece that was very simple and melodic, a set of miniatures, but that still used modern composing techniques and concepts. I was also listening to Chick Corea’s album of the same name. My goal was to write a piece about children: capricious, gentle, and somewhat unfinished. A sorbet course to the heavily savory music of my colleagues.
Some of you may remember my composition A Child Sings at Thanksgiving that I wrote for the Boston-based guitarist Aaron Larget-Caplan. The seventh of the Children’s Songs, entitled A Children’s Choir at Thanksgiving (the only one of the songs with a title) became the basis of the new piece for Aaron.
Here is–and forgive me for this–a midi piano realization of the Children’s Songs; below that is a live performance of Aaron performing A Child Sings at Thanksgiving for solo guitar. These songs are exactly as I wrote them in 1994 (with a few small changes). I am considering rewriting them for various instrumental combinations, including potentially a jazz combo…we’ll see.
The Children’s Songs:
And here’s Aaron playing A Child Sings at Thanksgiving:
I am delighted to share some news with you!
I met my friend and brilliant composer Neil Rolnick when we found ourselves both booked on a 2009 concert tour in China. One night in Beijing, on a moment’s notice, we got up and improvised with flutist Bruce Gremo for an hour to keep from cancelling a show. Since that fateful meeting, we decided to collaborate on a new saxophone and computer project. The idea was to create a piece that although structured had tremendous space to allow for our interactive improvisations. I am pleased to announce that this commission has been funded by an Individual Artist/Composer Commission grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).
The new composition, with the working title of Silicon Breath, will be substantially written out, but which will have elements of improvisation. The electronic parts will combine prerecorded sax lines which are modified and processed in various ways, and live processing of the sax as it is played. In its initial form, we will perform it together, but eventually there may be other versions depending upon the logistics of each performance situation. But most importantly, the sax and computer will work together to enhance the instrument’s wide range of colors, moods and expressive possibilities.
We are expecting to present this new work in concerts and at festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Asia beginning in 2014.
As a prelude to this project, Neil (with me as guest) will be featured at 6PM on February 3rd on the CCi Serial Underground series which I curate at the Cornelia Street Cafe in the West Village. We’ll be performing Horny, a new (and saxy…sorry, had to say it…) version of Neil’s 1988 piece Vocal Chords, as well as some old and new solo laptop work and duo improvisations. This will be a fun show, so I hope those of you in the NYC area can join us. Details here: http://corneliastreetcafe.com/Performances.asp?sdate=2/3/2013&from_cal=0
Here’s a little taste of Neil’s music; hip, ain’t it?:
Thank you all again for your continued support!
It is with great pleasure that I may now share with you the video of the premiere of Lilith: Mother of Dreams from December 20th at Flushing Town Hall.
Thank you from all of us on the creative team:
Demetrius Spaneas, composer; Alexandra Honigsberg, librettist; James Siranovich, music director; Christina Rohm, soprano
I am pleased to announce that the Thursday, December 20th premiere of Lilith: Mother of Dreams was a great success! We had an amazing and enthusiastic audience, and we are hoping to expand this opera project for performances in the near future.
I wanted to share with you this first group of photos of the creative team in introducing the project beforehand, during the performance, and Q & A after the performance. Photos by Markus Mettler.
Thank you again for all your support!
Lilith Creative Team: Demetrius Spaneas, composer; Alexandra Honigsberg, librettist; James Siranovich, music director; Christina Rohm, soprano and in the title role.
If you’re in NYC this weekend, please join us for this very cool performance!
Thanks and best!
Composers Neil Rolnick and Demetrius Spaneas collaborate on an evening of solos and duets for saxophones and computer. The program will include duet improvisations, Spaneas’ suite “…no longer to his father…” for solo saxophone, and Rolnick’s “Robert Johnson Sampler” and “Horny,” a re-imagining of his 1988 piece “Vocal Chords.”
Composer Neil Rolnick pioneered in the use of computers in musical performance, beginning in the late 1970s. Since moving to New York City in 2002, his music has been receiving increasingly wide recognition and numerous performances both in the US and abroad. Rolnick has often included unexpected and unusual combinations of materials and media in his music. He has performed around the world, and his music appears on 16 CD’s.
Rolnick teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, where he was founding director of the iEAR Studios.
Demetrius Spaneas travels the world as a musical ambassador, connecting classical, jazz, and traditional music throughout the US, Eastern Europe, and Asia. He has worked with such diverse artists as John Cage, Ray Charles, and Kyrgyz traditional musicians, and has been featured soloist and composer at major concert venues and international festivals in the three continents. Through his work with the US Embassy system, he has presented concerts and lectures on American music and culture throughout the former Soviet Union. Interested in connecting cultures and creating international artistic dialogue through cultural diplomacy, his current initiatives focus on Central Asia, the Balkans, China, and Russia. To this end, he has been appointed a Fulbright Specialist in American Studies, Music. He has won grants and awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, and other organizations, including a special certificate from the Russian Duma (senate) for enriching the cultural life of St. Petersburg. Mr. Spaneas, a New York City-based artist, is a native of Lowell, MA and holds both bachelor and master of music degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music where he studied classical and jazz performance, composition, and world music.
Tickets: $10 at the door
Cash Bar (beer and wine)
December is upon us, and that means the most wonderful–and craziest–time of the year!
Although one can look at my UPCOMING EVENTS page to see what is on the horizon, I’d like to tell you about some special things.
The first and foremost is the rescheduling of my opera Lilith: Mother of Dreams! As you recall, the opera premiere was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, but the artistic team stayed the course and we were able with the help of Flushing Town Hall to reschedule for Thursday, December 20 at 7PM!
Now, granted…this is the eve before the supposed end of time according to the Mayan Calender…this may have been why we decided on the 20th and not, say, oh, the 22nd, but I’ll never tell…
On December 2nd Composers Collaborative, inc. will present the next concert in our Serial Underground music series at the Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village. This concert will present my good (and long time from NEC) friend Geoffrey Burleson and his chamber punk trio IMPetus. Geoffrey Burleson will be playing dynamic and righteous solo numbers by David Rakowski and the East Coast premieres of works by Preston Stahly and Joseph Martin Waters, and IMPetus will stir up a musical cauldron of original tunes, as well as music by Max Roach, Trent Reznor, Franz Schubert, Charles Ives, Maurice Ravel, Henry Cow, Tzvi Gluckin, and Dimitri Shostakovich. Not a show to be missed!
And finally, in the ‘blast from the past’ department, I will be playing a couple of concerts with songstress Natalie Merchant. I remember when I was a student at NEC that her band 10,000 Maniacs hit it big, releasing a number of 60′s-style songs (including many remakes of other artist’s earlier hits), and I remember her going solo in the early 90′s. It should be great fun backing her on her new material for two shows, at Tilles Performing Arts Center on Dec. 1 and at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Dec. 9.
Although, as opposed to my Rock/R & B days blowing some tenor sax (or bari!), I’ll be mellifluousnessly playing behind her in a chamber orchestra on clarinet and bass clarinet.
So these are my December highlights for now, although I’ll make sure to tell you if other things pop up unexpectedly.
As always, I am honored by your interest and support.
We are rescheduling the premiere of my opera Lilith: Mother of Dreams because Flushing Town Hall (and all of NYC…) has decided to shut down for Hurricane Sandy.
We will announce the new date as soon as we have one.
Thank you all again for your continued support. And please, all of you in the hurricane’s path, be sure to take care over the next few days.
Just an update and reminder about the upcoming premiere of Lilith: Mother of Dreams, my chamber opera created with librettist Alexandra Honigsberg, joined by music director James Siranovich and written for the talents of soprano Christina Rohm.
If you want to see my *original* post on the opera, please go here: http://www.dspaneas.com/2012/10/new-opera-lilith-mother-of-dreams-anouncement-and-fundraising/
The opera will premiere on Sunday, October 28 at 7PM at Flushing Town Hall. The creative team and I are delighted to have this opportunity to present this for you.
If you wish to support this project, which is fiscally sponsored by Composers Collaborative, inc., please:
***Remember, you MUST specify either Sponsored artist: Demetrius Spaneas or Sponsored project: Lilith or we will not receive your donation***
So…did you know that Flushing Town Hall is haunted? Perfect for the premiere of an opera about a demon on Halloween weekend, none the less. Here is a little history about the hauntings at the Hall and in and around Queens: http://www.qgazette.com/news/2012-10-17/Front_Page/Spooks_Spirits_and_Queens_Haunted_Place.html
And finally, here are some photos of our heroine…the first, a 19th century depiction, I have posted before as seems to have become the ‘mascot’ for our publicity; the second is a relief from Ancient Babylon (approx. 1800-1750 BCE); the third, actually, is my personal favorite.
Hope to see you there!