Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday Miscellaney

Several things make a post:
  • Bang on a Can has a marathon coming up on June 6, 2021, from 1 to 5 p.m.; for details, see the web site
  • Estonian composer Erki Pärnoja has an album of "cross-genre" choral music out.
  • Flutist of flutists Claire Chase and clarinetist Joshua Rubin have released an EP of Alvin Lucier's Monteverdi Shapero, in honor of Lucier's 90th birthday, and yes, that's my late teacher Harold Shapero in close company with Claudio Monteverdi. You can hear it at Chase's web site, complete with informative notes.
  • Opera Orlando's 2021-22 season includes La Traviata, Rigoletto, and Stella Sung's The Secret River (libretto by Mark Campbell).
  • The New York Opera Fest has been going on for a month and continues into June with a huge list of programs.
  • Congratulations to Douglas Kearney, who has been named the first recipient of Opera America's Campbell Opera Librettist Prize. Kearney is a poet, with seven books of poetry published, and the librettist of several operas, with others forthcoming: 
    • Crescent City and Sweet Land, both of which The Industry performed to great acclaim
    • Mordake
    • Sucktion
  • Call for scores from the string quartet Ethel, due date July 1, 2021. Read about it at HomeBaked Round V.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday Photos, Super Blood Moon Edition

May 26, 2021, around 3 a.m.

May 26, 2021
The streak is the lights of a plane.

May 26, 2021

May 26, 2021


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Edwin Outwater at SFCM

Conductor Edwin Outwater
Photo by David Kim, courtesy of SFCM

In April, 2020, Edwin Outwater was appointed to the position of Music Director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I meant to report on this at the time and, well, the pandemic and life caught up. Here's the press release; note that all dates not otherwise specified are 2020:

In the past two decades, savvy classical music presenters have focused on evolving the art form – through cross-genre collaborations, new audience engagement, and demonstrating relevance to modern-day life. In the past two months, this relevance has been thrown into sharp relief, as audiences worldwide have found comfort, escapism, and catharsis in digital performances during the COVID-19 pandemic. San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s contribution to this movement is the Tiny Dorm Concert Series, an expertly curated whole-community effort connecting faculty, students, and alumni with audiences across the globe.
On Saturday, April 11, the series’ closing night will be hosted and curated by visionary conductor Edwin Outwater, announced today as the new SFCM Music Director. San Francisco audiences will recognize Outwater from his enduring relationship with San Francisco Symphony, where he has served as Resident Conductor, Director of Summer Concerts, and Music Director of its Youth Orchestra. Collaborations with living composers such as Mason Bates, Caroline Shaw, Nico Muhly, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Missy Mazzoli have been hallmarks of his career, as have projects with household names like Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, John Lithgow, Metallica, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Outwater has also enjoyed high-profile engagements with Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, Seth MacFarlane, Tituss Burgess, and legendary drag performers Peaches Christ, Bob The Drag Queen, and Courtney Act.
“We knew SFCM’s next music director would need to have a rare combination of qualities,” said Conservatory President David Stull. “Essentially, we sought an architect for the ensemble of the future – someone with both a truly innovative mindset and extensive experience working with top-tier ensembles. After a two-year search, we have found this leader in Edwin Outwater.”
As music director, Outwater’s primary focus will be the conservatory’s broadscale musical objectives – shaping the large ensemble experience across orchestra, chamber, and contemporary music ensembles, striking a balance between canonical works and new initiatives, and guiding programmatic themes. His duties will also include direct mentorship of students in the conducting program.

“There is an incredible wave of growth happening at SFCM,” said Outwater. “I’m thrilled to be joining this dynamic and forward-looking institution. Under David’s leadership, the conservatory’s expansions, including creative technology and jazz, are creating new pathways for young musicians. I’m eager to help nurture these entrepreneurial students as they build careers for today’s musical landscape.” 

A California native, Outwater has forged his own inventive career at major orchestras and institutions throughout the world, where he has often premiered new commissions and introduced audiences to works beyond the standard repertoire. His stellar reputation as a curator has been built via the SoundBox series in San Francisco and the Intersectionsseries, which has connected orchestral music to quantum physics, neuroscience, film, food, and yoga, in the United States and Canada. His broad curiosity has resulted in collaborations with a diverse array of artists from all musical genres – from cellist Johannes Moser to Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq – and inspired the creation of Hack The Orchestra, a hackathon that challenges young programmers to create new content for the concert experience.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drives both higher education and arts institutions to embrace the agile mindset required for rapid innovation, Outwater’s vision can be expected to shape the SFCM student experience across programs and platforms.

“Ultimately, I hope our present circumstances can be a catalyst for greater ingenuity,” said Outwater. “SFCM makes it a priority to empower students to take an active role in creating their own musical futures, and this is the attitude the world needs to continue moving forward. Leonard Bernstein called it the lesson of the century: ‘as long as we insist on maintaining artistic vitality, we are able to hope in man.’”

I asked about the responsibilities that come with this position, and SFCM replied:

As music director, he conducts the orchestra, oversees the program, selects the personnel and identifies large scale projects. He also curates our contemporary music division, works with Historical Performance and the Opera Departments on large scale projects, identifies guest conductors (for all ensembles including the orchestra), coaches students, and works with the Assoc. Dean for Artistic Programming (Hank Mau) in crafting a season. He occasionally will teach a seminar and he runs the conducting program which comprises 2-4 students. 

Edwin will also lead a discussion that selects our artistic/academic theme for the year, which is part of an initiative we refer to as "Connected Learning." This year it was Music and Nature, and we witnessed academic courses revolving around the use of natural themes in art, literature, technology, and music. Technology and Applied Composition (TAC) undertook several projects in which data from the Livermore Labs measuring climate change was translated into a soundscape installation, and smaller projects such as the one we have moved to August 30th at the Lynmar estate, where we will show the parallels of mathematics that describe the natural world (Fibinnaci, Golden Section) and string instrument design. 

Interesting work!

Outwater's predecessors were:

  • Eric Dudley, currently Artistic Director of SF Contemporary Music Players, from 2016-2017 through 2017-18.
  • Scott Sandmeier, from 2013-14 through 2015-16

Monday, May 24, 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021

Monday, May 03, 2021