Like I said last time, the workload prevented my contributing anything at all to either of the TONY music sections this week. What I forgot, though, is that in a small way I'd contributed to the front of the magazine... even the cover, if you extend the gatefold fully.
Time Out, the original, London-based parent of our local publication, notches its 40th anniversary this week. To celebrate, Time Out mags around the world put together special issues devoted to local heroes, newsmakers, trendsetters and what not. In London, the focus was on 40 figures from the magazine's full lifespan. (Choice quote from Michael Nyman: "I'm grateful to be the only 'contemporary classical composer' on the list!")
Here in New York, we also chose 40 subjects, but concentrated on the 13-year period since TONY was founded as our defining window of influence. (Chicago picked 40 as well.) If you live here, you might well have seen some of the media and blogosphere coverage devoted to some of our picks: Eliot Spitzer (whose inclusion was even kept a secret from the staff!), Michael Bloomberg, Jay-Z, Tim Gunn and Spider-Man were among the top attention-getters.
There were three people that I personally nominated and strenuously lobbied to include in this cover package. Two of them made it: Peter Gelb and John Zorn. (The third can console himself with his shiny new MacArthur -- though his boss made the cut.) Though the interviews were short and mostly consisted of boilerplate questions, each was a challenge in its own way. Each was also a great pleasure.
Most surprisingly, each included a genuine revelation. Would you have guessed that Peter Gelb is a romantic softy, or that John Zorn has no problem with the upscale invasion of his native East Village? I wouldn't have. Also worth noting that Christopher Wheeldon, who was interviewed by my amazing colleague Gia Kourlas (and whose bold choreography this confirmed balletophobe ate up in La Gioconda at the Met on Wednesday), picked Gelb as one of his own favorite New Yorkers.
Now that I've pointed out what you'll find in TONY this week, I feel honor-bound to tell you what you won't find there: three rather important concert listings, the press releases for which fell off my desk and into an overflowing mail bin, where they were subsequently buried until excavation two days ago. (I know, it sounds like "the dog ate my homework," but it's absolutely true.) I rushed all three up to the TONY website immediately, but I'm going to plug them here as well:
The first is mainly important for its novelty: When the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra opens the 55th season of concerts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art tonight (Sept. 26 at 8pm), the centerpiece of the concert will be Saint-Saëns's perennial charmer, Carnival of the Animals. What makes the performance unusual is that the Ogden Nash verses corresponding to the movements will be recited by Philippe de Montebello, marking the beginning of his final year as the museum's director. Completing the program are Mendelssohn's String Symphony No. 10 and Mozart's Symphony No. 29.
The second I'm truly pained to have omitted: Miller Theatre devotes one of its important Composer Portrait concerts to Peter Lieberson on Saturday night (Sept. 27 at 8pm). Lieberson is best known now for his ravishing Neruda Songs, composed for and memorably recorded by his late wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The Miller program offers a survey of chamber works spanning a period from 1971 to 1996, depicting a stylistic range from early modernist constructions to later, Buddhist-inspired contemplations. Jeffrey Millarsky conducts the Garuda Ensemble, a stellar array of local soloists; Lieberson, who survived a recent cancer scare of his own, will be on hand for a conversation with Fred Sherry. (Full details here.)
The third omission hurts most of all, because it was for an event by an impressive young organization that has consistently presented inventive programs on a shoestring budget. The American Modern Ensemble, operated by Robert and Victoria Paterson, opens its new season on Monday night (Sept. 29 at 7:30pm) in its new home at the Times Center -- in the New York Times building on Times Square, naturally. The program, "Women Who Rock," lives up to its name with pieces by Augusta Read Thomas, Missy Mazzoli, Alexandra du Bois, Gabriela Lena Frank, Vivian Fung, Hannah Lash, Roshanne Etezady and Laura Schwendinger, including four local premieres. It's an incredibly impressive array of compositional talent, performed by yet another squadron of first-rate New York freelancers; the group should (and would) have had my full support, and deserves your consideration. (Full details here.)
Apologies to all concerned for my omission of your events. I hope this makes up for it, at least a little.
The Residents - The Bunny Boy (Santa Dog/MVD); Commercial Album (Cryptic/Mute); WBR:RMX (Euroralph)
The Dears - Missiles (Dangerbird, due out Oct. 21)
Tindersticks - The Hungry Saw (Constellation)
Willie Nelson - Phases and Stages (Atlantic/Rhino)
Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club - Zanzibara 1: A Hundred Years of Tarab in Zanzibar (Buda)
Michael Rother - Remember (The Great Adventure) (Random/WEA Germany)
Neu! - Neu! (Astralwerks)
DJ Envy & Tapemasters Inc. - Purple Codeine, Vol. 18 (mixtape)
TV on the Radio - Dear Science (4AD/Interscope)
Kyle Bobby Dunn - Six Cognitive Works (Kning Disk/eMusic)
Nas - Nas (Columbia)
George Frideric Handel - Concerti Grossi, Op. 3; Sonata a 5 - Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr (Harmonia Mundi)
Dave Holland Sextet - Pass It On (Dare 2/EmArcy)
Groupe Issaoua - title unknown (Fassiphone)
Groupe Ahl Touate - Groupes Dar Dmana (Fassiphone)