In 1996, I was listening to “Performance Today” on KPAC and heard the host, Martin Goldsmith, introduce a piece of music by a composer new to me. It was “The Yellow Pages,” by Michael Torke. Besides Torke’s affinity for music associated with colors (he is a synesthete), Goldsmith described the subtle variations in the short work as something akin to flipping through the pages of the phone book.
Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 3, which appears on his latest album, contains many levels of meaning. It's an homage to the Russian composer Sergey Prokofiev, whose Second Symphony serves as a structural model for the piece. It's an encoded musical portrait of Rouse's wife. And it's an engaging piece of music even for a listener who possesses none of this background knowledge.
This week, a new opera based on the popular but controversial Lars von Trier film, Breaking the Waves, opened in Philadelphia. With its potent combination of sex, religion and transgression, the subject matter seems ripe for operatic treatment.
American composer Julia Wolfe has won one of the biggest windfalls in the arts world. She is one of this year's MacArthur Fellows, recipients of the so-called "genius grants" given to a wide range of talented figures from the arts, humanities, sciences and social services. The 2016 class of fellows was announced early Thursday morning.
Violence against women is no modern tragedy. Composer John Adams found that out when he saw an exhibition about the tales of the Arabian Nights — ancient stories in which Scheherazade tells her murderous husband a new tantalizing tale each night for 1001 nights, thus sparing her life a day at a time. The composer, writing in Scheherazade.2's booklet notes, says he was surprised by how many of the stories included women suffering brutality.