"Minimalist Man Tries Organizing a Concert Series"
The New York Times, July 27, 2008
An article about Foster Reed (pictured left, in a photograph by Rochelle Redfield) and his invaluable new-music label, New Albion, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a 10-concert mini-festival at Bard College starting Friday. The label has played an important part in my own musical education for nearly as long... I remember picking up the Ingram Marshall disc with Fog Tropes and Gradual Requiem and the John Adams CD with Shaker Loops and Light Over Water back in college, probably around the time that the second Marshall disc, Alcatraz, was issued.
The festival looks absolutely amazing -- and I'm personally going to miss the entire thing. Still, I'm glad to have had an opportunity to call some attention to it. I wish there had been space enough to go into the specifics behind each program, because Reed applied the same sharp curatorial sense that has made New Albion such a treasure over the years. You can see a complete schedule of events here, including a succinct description of what makes each program tick. All told, it's a stupendous series that gives an accurate impression of Reed's pioneering work.
I had a great time speaking with Reed, Marshall, Sarah Cahill, Kyle Gann and Christopher Tignor for this piece. (And, as Kyle pointed out already, how great is it to see his face peering out of the Times?) I'd originally hoped to augment the article with a blog post here about the essential New Albion recordings -- some of which, like Rothko Chapel, you most likely own, and others that I discovered (Janice Giteck's HOME (revisited), Ira J. Mowitz's A la Memoire d'un Ami) or rediscovered (Carl Stone's Mom's) during the process of working on this article.
That might still happen at some point, but not tonight. No... because I'm stranded in a hotel room in Dallas, my flight back to New York (and two or three others) having been canceled due to inclement weather on the East Coast. I spent four hours in the airport vainly hoping (along with about 140 other stranded souls) to get on a later flight, then close to two more hours sitting outside the airport in the blazing heat, waiting for the "courtesy shuttle" to arrive. I have to get up for my return to the airport at an hour that qualifies as obscenely early (for me, anyway), so a long night of blogging is not in the cards.
Oh, but before I sign off, and on the record now: Kaija Saariaho's Adriana Mater at Santa Fe Opera last night was devastating. The piece is deep and probing, mysterious and dreamy, disturbing and provocative in a manner seldom encountered in the opera house.
The four principal vocalists were outstanding, a genuine feat given that two of them were under the weather during the dress rehearsal only two nights earlier. The electronic spatialization of the chorus, located in the orchestra pit and discreetly amplified, was far more noticeable and effective on Saturday night. Even the translation in the seat-back titles had been tweaked for the better: a subtle point that nonetheless underscores the tremendous care that Santa Fe poured into this elusive work.
The reception was overwhelmingly positive -- not a given with an opera so dark and demanding. The conductor Ernest Martinez Izquierdo, in his American debut, was revealed as an artist to watch closely. Even the weather participated: After a day of intermittently heavy showers, a rolling fog settled into the mountains behind the theater. Tendrils of mist that licked through the stage added an inadvertent but perfectly right element to Peter Sellars's moody minimalist staging.