I will be appearing again at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, conducting on-stage interviews with the six nominated composers, and participating in a panel discussion, on Saturday 8th, on the subject of the role of the audience in contemporary music.
On 17th September I will be conducting another on-stage interview, this time with Philip Venables ahead of the Riot Ensemble’s performance of his Illusions and numbers 91–95 at Kings Place.
Notes for the BBC Proms this year included introductions to concerts given by Jacob Collier and the Metropole Orkestra, and Colin Currie and the JACK Quartet, as well as a profile of Philip Venables to go alongside the premiere of his violin concerto Venables Plays Bartók.
Substantial programme essay on quartets by Lutosławski, Janáček and Schubert, performed by the Hagen Quartet, for the Salzburg Festival.
18 August: my debut on Radio 3’s Hear and Now new music show, on which I will be reviewing recent releases on the all that dust and Huddersfield Contemporary Records labels, as well as Wolfgang Mitterer’s 9in1.
I attended my first Darmstadt Summer School, giving two presentations as part of the Defragmentation conference (on ruin forms, and, more generally, on curating new music histories); and contributing as guest speaker to the writing about music workshop organised by Peter Meanwell and Kate Molleson.
Substantial programme essay on Penderecki’s St Luke Passion for the opening concert of the Salzburg Festival.
A short ranty thing on minimalist bloat in the August issue of The Wire, notable mostly for inspiring the picture editor to make the unlikely pairing of Laurence Crane and Chaya Czernowin.
Programme essay on the inspirations behind Tansy Davies’ and Nick Drake’s Cave for the London Sinfonietta.
Programme note for a concert of music by Feldman and Copland, conducted by the late Oliver Knussen, at Aldeburgh Festival.
Notes for the Riot Ensemble playing music by Ann Cleare, Pauline Oliveros, Clara Iannotta and Patricia Alessandrini. See also my interview with Ann Cleare.
Several pieces of writing published this month:
A little interview with Patricia Alessandrini for the Riot Ensemble blog.
Notes on two pieces by Christian Mason for the Philharmonia Orchestra.
An interview with Niels Rønsholdt for VAN magazine.
A reminiscence about Alwynne Pritchard’s Craw for the British Music Collection.
Pre-concert talk on Rebecca Saunders’ Fletch for the London Ear.
I produced a Music after the Fall mixtape for The Lake Radio – I haven’t done one of these in a looong time, and it was a lot of fun!
I gave a talk at York University on the subject of Music After the Fall.
I wrote notes for Irvine Arditti’s concert of Sciarrino and Cattaneo as part of the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series.
2018 kicked off with sleevenotes for a disc of Carl Stone’s electronic music on Unseen Worlds. I also produced notes for Riot Ensemble’s second recording, Chest of Toys, on Coviello, and notes for the group’s performance of Carter’s Double Concerto, plus new pieces by Pierce Gradone and Molly Joyce. (See also my interviews with Gradone and Joyce.)
I reviewed HCMF for Frieze.com.
I was thrilled this month to give a talk on Music After the Fall as part of the 40th edition of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. It was equally rewarding to write an essay on new music theatre for Luxembourg’s Rainy Days festival.
After the madness of September, just the two programme notes to report this month: music by Beat Furrer for the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series, and music by Chaya Czernowin, Mirela Ivičević, Sylvain Marty and composers of the New Music Brighton collective for Riot Ensemble. (See also my interviews with Ivičević and Marty.)
I also spoke on new music, blogging, and audiences at Edinburgh’s Alba New Music Festival.
Quite a month, this one.
First up: Another article for The Wire, on embodied scores, and featuring Michael Baldwin, Louis d’Heudieres, Luke Nickel, Claudia Molitor and Celeste Oram.
I spoke at two conferences at the start of the month. At the RMA’s annual conference I gave a paper on ‘The limits of “composition”‘ as part of a session on ‘Expanded musicologies’ organised by John Fallas. A week later, John took part in a panel discussion I organised at the biannual International Conference on Music Since 1900 on the subject of ‘New music histories’, alongside fellow panellists Seth Brodsky and Jennie Gottschalk.
In between those two, I found time(!) to spend a few days at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Utrecht, where I not only gave a talk on the book, but also conducted on-stage interviews with the five composers nominated for that year’s Gaudeamus prize – Ethan Braun, Sky Macklay, Aart Strootman, Chaz Underriner and Ivan Vukosavljević.
Notes completed this month were for Michael Daugherty/Philharmonia Orchestra and Ensemble Intercontemporain at the Festival Hall, and sleevenotes for After the Tryst by McKenzie Sawers Duo on Delphian.
Article for Frieze.com on new music’s love of Soundcloud.
Substantial feature on Chaya Czernowin and her opera Infinite Now published in the Swedish magazine Nutida musik.
I spoke on the subject of Music After the Fall at Oslo’s Only Connect festival.
First note this month is for a concert of childhood-inspired piano music by Mei Yi Foo as part of the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series. I also wrote notes on pieces by Deborah Pritchard, Robert Saxton and Debussy for the Aldeburgh Festival.
I also produced sleevenotes this month for – very unusually for me! – a disc of flute concertos by Mozart and Josef Mysliveček.
Notes for Riot Ensemble at Blackheath Halls: music by Jonathan Harvey, Augusta Read Thomas, Helga Arrias Parra and Scott Lygate.
Launch, as editor-in-chief, of Sounds Like Now, a new online magazine for contemporary music. In the event, the mag could only raise funds for five monthly issues, but as far as I was concerned features on Frank Denyer, EXAUDI, Another Timbre, London’s new ‘punk’ experimentalism, Graham McKenzie and more by some fabulous writers, including Robert Barry, Abi Bliss, Simon Cummings, Adam Harper and Kate Molleson – all this illuminated it brightly for its brief existence.
Elsewhere, I had a feature on British new music in the BBC Proms guide, and wrote notes on Bent Sørensen’s music for the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Article series on commemorative music for NewMusicBox.
Also: Notes for Riot Ensemble’s concert of Finnis, Saunders, Lim and Thorvaldsdottír.
The big one: Music After the Fall is published. More details on the publisher’s website, or on this blog.
More big news: I have joined the start-up online magazine for new music, Sounds Like Now, as its editor. Much more on that to come over the coming weeks and months. First issue hits your inbox on 1 May.
My first article for The Wire was published, in the March issue (no. 397). Titled ‘Across the great divide’, it’s a survey and partial history of Canadian experimental music, concentrating on composers featured in the ongoing Another Timbre series of CD releases: Martin Arnold, Isaiah Ceccarelli, Cassandra Miller, Marc Sabat, Linda Catlin Smith, Chiyoko Szlavnics.
The second of my notes for the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series appeared, this time for a concert of music by Bernd Richard Deutsch on 19 January.
I wrote a post for the American Musicological Society’s Musicology Now blog on the subject of Music after the fall, 1989, and why 2017 might be seen as a new watershed.
On 31 January I took part in an on-stage discussion with the RCM’s Sophie Rashbrook on the subject of American music in the 20th century, to launch the college’s American Chamber Series.
I’ve long been an admirer and supporter of the Philharmonia’s Music of Today series of free contemporary music concerts, so I’m delighted to have been asked to the notes for this season’s concerts. The first one is on 10 November, is titled ‘Early and New’, and features arrangements, recompositions and reworkings of early music by Birtwistle, Jolas, Schöllhorn and Finnis.
I will be at the University of Huddersfield on 25 October, giving a lecture on the subject of ‘Afterness as aesthetic and formal principle in 21st-century music’. Start time: 4.30pm.
Another programme note for the Riot Ensemble, this time on the text scores of Pauline Oliveros.
Something a little different: here’s a blogpost I wrote for my kung fu club on the facts of training with cystic fibrosis.
I led a class with Chaya Czernowin for composition students at the Royal College of Music as part of her four-day residency at the College.
Around this time I was invited to join the artistic board of the Riot Ensemble. As well as serving as the group’s in-house writer, I will also join with other board members in helping shape the growth, development and direction of one of the most active and exciting young ensembles in the UK. My first gig was to write programme notes for a concert featuring works by Evan Johnson, Nina C. Young and Djuro Zivkovic.
I am writing eight short programme notes for the LSO’s Panufnik Composer’s Scheme workshop, on 11 March.
I also gave an introductory talk on Elliott Carter’s Trilogy as part of the London Ear Festival.
I am writing 30+ short entries on music for the Oxford Virtual Encyclopedia.
Two programme notes this month, both for the BBC, although for different concerts: Anna Clyne’s The Seamstress, in its UK premiere; and Philip Glass’s piano favourite, Mad Rush.
I also have reviews of three CDs in Tempo: Dan Trueman’s Nostalgic Synchronic, piano music by Linda Catlin Smith, and Lungpowered by Loadbang.
I gave a lecture at Keele University on the subject of ‘Afterness: Ways into a history of 21st-century music’; I also gave a student workshop on writing about music.
Also this month, Delphian released their recording of Simon Smith playing piano sonatas by Valentin Silvestrov, which included a booklet essay by me.
Essay on the music of Georg Friedrich Haas, for the Royal Opera House’s premiere of Morgen und Abend. Plus a note on George Antheil’s Symphony no.5 for the BBC, 20 November.
Two more notes for Minimalism Unwrapped: Mikhail Karikis and Juice, 25 October; and Tom Kerstens and G-Plus, 30 October.
Two reviews also in Tempo: Frank Denyer on another timbre; and the NY Phil’s Contact! programme at the Barbican.
More notes for Minimalism Unwrapped: the Duke Quartet playing works by Bryars, Richter and Volans, 22 May.
Lots of programme notes for Kings Place’s Minimalism Unwrapped season: Philip Glass’s string quartets, played by the Carducci Quartet, 16 April;Ubunoir and Katia and Marielle Labeque presenting works by Moondog, 17 April; and pieces by Tüür, Pärt and Glass played by O/MODERNT Kammarokester, 18 April.
I also had an extended review in Tempo this month on a CD by the Vocal Constructivists, and performances by ELISION and Kammer Klang.
I wrote a short preview article on Bryce Dessner’s curated weekend ‘Mountains and Waves‘ for the Barbican.
I’m not sure of the exact date, but at some point this year, the Oxford Dictionary of Music, sixth edition, is published by Omega in a Spanish translation (by Manuel Pijoan).
At the start of the month I completed sleevenotes for the debut portrait CD of the wonderful composer Clara Iannotta, to be released through the DAAD.
I also wrote a four-part series for NewMusicBox, on models of globalization in American new music.
In November and December I wrote another four-post series for Amati.com, this time on the subject of contemporary music for strings.
I was in Sweden at the start of the month to give a presentation at the Sound of Stockholm festival, on the subject of ‘Ecosystems and enabling forces: Writing a history of contemporary music’. No recording of this one, but for those who read Swedish the whole thing will be translated and published in Nutida musik, at whose invitation I was speaking.
I contributed notes to Colin Currie and Aurora Orchestra’s tribute to Steve Martland.
On the first of the month I was in Manchester to give a presentation on my book at the Royal Northern College of Music. You can see a video of the whole thing here.
Later in the month I was a panellist as part of Nonclassical and Sinfini’s discussion on the future of new music, hosted at the Red Gallery, Shoreditch. Alongside me were Kerry Andrew, Thom Andrewes, Paul Morley, Gabriel Prokofiev and Igor Toronyi-Lalic; the whole thing was podcast, and is available here.
I also wrote notes for Colin Currie’s Metal, Wood, Skin festival at the Southbank Centre. In October this meant his concerts with the ASKO|Schoenberg Ensemble, and with Steve Reich.
My programme notes for Ligeti’s Concert Românesc, and Bartók’s Three Village Scenes and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta are used for the BBC Concert Orchestra’s concert with A Hawk and a Hacksaw on 7 May.
I’ve also written a programme note and composer biog for the UK premiere of Bright Sheng’s violin concerto Let Fly on 9 May.
I have provided programme notes for the London Sinfonietta’s world premiere of Michel van der Aa’s clarinet concerto, Hysteresis. I’ve also written a new note for the violin and tape solo Memo. Read it all here.
The second London Ear festival! Like last year, I hosted a one-hour show on Resonance FM previewing the festival. You can hear the full programme on Soundcloud. I also hosted three pre-concert conversations as part of the festival with composers Georg Katzer, Eric de Clercq and Alwynne Pritchard, and festival directors Andrea Cavallari and Gwyn Pritchard.
I was interviewed by BBC Radio 3 for a Music Matters programme on music criticism today. (Broadcast 22 March.)
March’s Little Star selections were taken from Keith and Mendi Odabike’s The Sour Thunder on Bridge and Erik Carlson playing Jürg Frey on Bandcamp.
Programme note on Michel van der Aa’s Up-close for the Seattle Chamber Players (17 February).
Two programme notes and two composer bios for this BBC Concert Orchestra performance, on John Alden Carpenter’s Krazy Kat, and David Lang’s concerto (world to come) (24 February).
February’s Little Star selections were taken from Silk Road Ensemble’s A Playlist With No Borders on Sony, No More Four Seasons’ eponymous debut on SEKT, and Milica Djordjevic’s FAIL on Soundcloud.
I have two reviews in this quarter’s Tempo, on Alex Hills’ debut CD, The Music of Making Strange (Carrier Records) and Joseph Auner’s book Music in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (Norton).
I’ve started a regular fortnightly blog for the stringed instrument dealers, Amati. Read my first one here.
January’s Little Star selections were taken from Matthew Shlomowitz’s Free Sound on sub rosa, Mohammed Fairouz’s In the Shadow of No Towers on Naxos, Liza Lim’s Wild Winged-One on Wergo and Nick Brooke’s Border Towns, on innova.
More TRINning – I’m writing the programme notes for György and Márta Kurtág and Hiromi Kikuchi (a reprise of a Wigmore Hall concert I reviewed several years ago). Concert is on 1 December.
December’s Little Star selections were taken from Djuro Zivkovic’s On the Guarding of the Heart on private release, Neil Rolnick’s Gardening at Gropius House on Innova, Edmund Finnis’s Colour Field Painting on Soundcloud and John Croft’s … ma quale eclissi v’oscura?, also on Soundcloud.
More programme notes for The Rest is Noise – this time minimalist masterworks by Philip Glass and Steve Reich: Music in Twelve Parts (9 November), and Clapping Music, Come Out, Music for Pieces of Wood, Pendulum Music and Music for 18 Musicians (10 November).
I’m also taking part (as the musical expert) in a TRIN study evening on politics and spirituality in the late twentieth century (focusing on Gubaidulina’s Offertorium). It’s free and informal, although you do need a ticket.
Polish Music Since 1945 is published by Musica Iagellonica; includes a chapter by me on Penderecki’s St Luke Passion.
November’s Little Star selections were taken from Alistair Zaldua’s contrejours on Soundcloud, Larry Goves’ Talking Microtonal Blues on Nonclassical, José M. Sánchez-Verdú’s Eus tu viator on col legno, Cassandra Miller’s O Zomer! on Soundcloud and James Erber’s Traces on Convivium.
The Aurora Orchestra’s concert on 5th October features my programme notes on Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge and Kontakte, as well as Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître. Part of the Southbank Centre’s year-long The Rest is Noise festival.
October’s Little Star selections were taken from Anton Batagov’s Letters of Sergei Rachmaninov on Fancy Music, Michel van der Aa’s Spaces of Blank on Disquiet, Michael Finnissy’s The History of Photography in Sound on Métier and John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit on Cantaloupe.
BBC Proms – 7 September (Last Night of the Proms). Tonight’s concert programme includes my profile of Anna Clyne, whose Masquerade is receiving its world premiere tonight.
I curated a show with Apartment House as part of the Out Hear series at Kings Place. Called ‘Some Recent Silences’, the concert combined four highly original young composers from the UK, US and Australia with three influential older figures, all of whom make use of silence (or near-silence) in musically interesting and diverse ways. Here’s the programme:
- G. Douglas Barrett – A Few Silence
- Gregory Emfietzis – DIY 1
- Mathias Spahlinger – 128 erfüllte augenblicke
- Ben Isaacs – allone
- György Kurtág – Dumb Show
- Charlie Sdraulig – Close
- Michael Pisaro – Fade
The concert took place on 22 September.
“There was a risk/hope that it would play out as an experiment, or a manifesto, or a challenge. Wonderfully, it all worked superbly as a varied programme of contrasting pieces with a strong thematic unity.” – Ben.Harper
“We in the audience were made to do a lot of work here – and I’m in no doubt that this enforced lack of complacency made the concert a far richer experience overall. … This concert was a reminder of the value of close listening: by making us work to hear it, it proved that it was worth our full attention.” – Paul Kilbey, backtrack
“Common to all of the pieces that Rutherford-Johnson discusses in his article is a sense of exploration as to what might be seen as ‘music’. This sense of exploration was likewise in strong evidence in the recent Apartment House King’s Place concert which grew out of the article. Curated by Rutherford-Johnson and likewise entitled ‘Some Recent Silences’, the concert illustrated very well both the breadth of silence’s reach in contemporary music and the philosophical and musical richness that often results from that reach.
“The King’s Place show featured a nicely-balanced and dynamically-effective programme made up of pieces with silent passages, pieces made exclusively from silence, and pieces that used silence as a background for social action.” –Stephen Graham, The Quietus
September’s Little Star selections were taken from Daniel Wohl‘s Corps Exquis on New Amsterdam; Wandelweiser und so weiter on Another Timbre; Alex Hills’ The Music of Making Strange on Carrier Records; and Samuel Vriezen’s recording of Tom Johnson’s Chord Catalogue on Edition Wandelweiser.
Busy month. On 7th August – The Rambler turned 10!
Around this date Radio Rambler – previously played passed 200 subscribers (Radio Rambler itself has more than 250).
The paperback edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music came out on 15 August.
BBC Proms – 15 August. Tonight’s concert programme includes my profile of Penderecki, and my note on his Concerto grosso for 3 cellos and orchestra.
I started to curate a weekly music selection for the very lovely Little Star magazine. You can get it delivered to your phone or tablet for $1.99 an issue via the Little Star app. First selections are Richard Barrett’s inward, played by Richard Craig, from this wonderful CD; Caleb Burhans‘ The Things Left Unsaid from his debut disc on Canteloupe, Evensong; and A Self-Same Song from the new Johannes Schöllhorn portrait on Mode.
BBC Proms – 23 August. Tonight’s concert programme includes my profile of Panufnik.
BBC Proms – 29 August. Tonight’s concert programme includes my note on Peter Eötvös’s Second Violin Concerto, ‘DoReMi’, here receiving its UK premiere.
BBC Proms – 12 July (First Night of the Proms). I’ve got composer biogs at each end of the Proms this year – the First Night’s programme book features my profile of Witold Lutosławski. and the Last Night will feature my profile of Anna Clyne.
I’m hosting a roundtable discussion and pre-concert interviews with Matthew Shlomowitz, James Weeks, Aaron Cassidy, Claudia Molitor, Richard Glover and Stephen Chase. It’s all part of the launch party for EXAUDI’s new CD, released on the Huddersfield Contemporary Records label. Date: 4 May, venue: Only Connect Theatre, Kings Cross.
I have a third programme note in the Philharmonia’s Woven Words celebration of Lutosławski – this time instrumental duos and brass quintets.
I wrote the booklet essay for the London Sinfonietta’s world premiere of Steve Reich’s new, Radiohead-inspired work, Radio Rewrite. An extended version of this note, exploring the nature and significance of current trends in Reich reception was published on New Music Box.
I gave a short talk on contemporary Swiss music at the London Ear Festival of Contemporary Music, on Sunday 24 March, before the evening concert by Basel’s Ensemble Phoenix. Venue was the Cello Factory, 33–4 Cornwall Road, Waterloo.
As part of the build-up to the London Ear festival, I hosted a one-hour show on Resonance FM on Wednesday 13 March, 8pm–9pm. The whole show has been archived to Soundcloud.
Barbara Lüneberg’s new CD, Beyond (Coviello Classics, COV 61302) is released, including sleevenotes I co-wrote with Barbara.
Two concerts in the Philharmonia’s Lutosławski Centenary series will include my programme notes: string quartets by and before Lutosławski, and works for piano.
Resonus Classics’ album of choral music by Hafliði Hallgrímsson (RES 10117) is released. The download-only release features my sleevenotes, which are also available for free from the label.
I travelled to Huddersfield for a few days early in the month to cover ELISION’s activities with young and student composers. I also had a chance to interview the young Australian composer Luke Paulding.
Anna Clyne’s Night Ferry receives its UK premiere from the BBC SO. Programme booklet includes my short profile of Clyne.
Extended review of Birmingham Opera’s production of MITTWOCH published in Tempo.
Radio Rambler passes 200 subscribers.
I contributed a selection of alternative festive listening to the OUP blog.
My article ‘Some Recent Silences’ (originally published on NewMusicBox) is published in Swedish in the magazine Nutida Musik.
Michael van der Aa wins the prestigious Grawemeyer prize for Up-close. Read my programme note for the work, commissioned by the composer, here.
BBC Scottish Orchestra perform Grażyna Bacewicz’s Concerto for String Orchestra, to which I contributed the programme note.
My edition (the sixth) of the Oxford Dictionary of Music is published by OUP.
‘Just Inside the Green Line’, an article on Cyprus’s Pharos Contemporary Music Festival, is published in the Journal of Music.