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Friday MIscellanea

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Friday MIscellanea

This is the centenary of the birth of English composer Malcolm Arnold who wrote a rather nice guitar concerto for Julian Bream. The New York Times has a tribute: The Hilarious, Heartbreaking Life and Music of Malcolm Arnold.

Arnold’s music isn’t out of favor everywhere. His compositions for amateur and youth ensembles appear with deserved regularity. Pieces like the dance sets (Cornish, Scottish, English); the Little Suites for Orchestra; and the Fantasy for Brass Band blend lush orchestrations with lilting themes, balancing accessibility with challenge while never pandering to nonprofessional players. Conservatory students in trombone, recorder, guitar and tuba, lacking a rich standard repertoire, are also blessed with a collection of works by Arnold that include smaller fantasies, concertos (written for performers as varied as Benny Goodman, Julian Bream and Larry Adler) and other occasional works for instruments he felt deserved their moment in the sun.

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 From The Guardian, Singer Jamie Barton: ‘Can we do a queer Don Carlo? Or a lesbian Orfeo?’

“I’ve been saying for so long: ‘Can I please do an Orfeo where it’s a lesbian love story? Can we do a Don Carlo where Eboli or Rodrigo are queer? Can we open up the doors of representation so that the vast majority of our Black artists aren’t just doing Porgy and Bess? Can we open the doors of storytelling and make it as inclusive as is possible?’ And I do see that as something going forward out of this. I think the world has changed in such a way that we can’t go back – and thank God, because we are better off on the path we’re on now.”

Well, sure, why not? As long as it makes some kind of musical and aesthetic sense. Personally I would find a lesbian Doña Giovanna rather interesting.

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I used to live with a harpsichordist so I daily heard the instrument at close quarters. It turns out that that may be why I enjoy the harpsichord so much. THE JOYS OF THE HARPSICHORD:

The grand piano was built for the stage, and owes its reverberation to the concert hall in which it is placed (or, in modern classical music recordings, to digital plug-ins through which its sound is processed). The harpsichord's reverberation, on the other hand, comes from within its own wooden walls. As a result, a real harpsichord simply isn't very loud. 

I find this intimate music compelling. The sound swims; every note touched lingers long after your finger is gone. It is a warm and rich sound, the musical equivalent of enjoying a fire on an icy day.

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Here is an interesting and unusual item about a Korean composer: The Moveable Musical Feast Of Jung Jaeil.

A soft-spoken, self-effacing young man from Seoul may be the most listened-to living composer on the planet right now, with two blockbuster works of cinema and TV on his resumé. Not only did Jung Jaeil compose the score for the Oscar-winning Parasite, but his subsequent gig, Squid Game, has just stormed into the record books: Seen and heard by hundreds of millions by now, it has become a global phenomenon, another sign of South Korea’s approaching and encroaching hegemony over all things cultural.

And here is something I was not aware of:

The music business in South Korea has been booming for much longer than we in the West have been aware. The country accounts for 20 percent of worldwide classical music sales, with a much younger audience base than in the West.

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 Thanks to Slipped Disc, here is a bit of sad news: L'Ensemble contemporain de Montréal To Cease Operations In 2022.

Véronique Lacroix, the Artistic Director and Founder of L’Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), has announced they will be shutting down operations.

The sad news was announced to a stunned audience in Montréal during what was to be their second final concert this past Tuesday.

Ludwig Van’s Caroline Rodgers spoke to Lacroix by phone to better understand the reasons behind the decision.

When asked what the motivation was, Lacroix said she felt that the organization had reached its limits. Even before the pandemic, there was some talk of wrapping it up.

“We have been here for 35 years,” said Lacroix. “We have made 300 creations, several international tours, 11 Canadian tours, and 70 concerts across the country just for Generation. The list of our accomplishments is very long and covers all aspects of the discipline.”

I attended quite a few of their concerts which were often held at the McGill School of Music's concert hall when I was an undergraduate there. In fact, one of the most memorable concert experiences I can recall was at one of their concerts. It may have been a piece by Quebec composer Serge Garant. In any case, it was for piano and six percussionists. In addition to other instruments, each percussionist had six large gongs on a large frame--probably every one in town! At one point, the pianist was playing the concert Steinway with such force that the open lid was bouncing up and down a couple of inches. I could see this because I was sitting in the second row. But I couldn't hear a single note of the piano because all 36 gongs were being played, also with great force. This was pretty much a unique acoustic experience and no, it would not be possible to record it!

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 For our first envoi, Circuit (1971) by Serge Garant for percussion ensemble, played by the McGill Percussion Ensemble:


The Guitar Concerto by Malcolm Arnold played by Julian Bream with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Barry Wordsworth:


And here is some music from the film Parasite by Jung Jaeil:





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