The Genesis Suite

Have you heard about the Genesis Suite? In 1944, Hollywood composer/arranger Nathaniel Shilkret commissioned leading composers of the day (Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Milhaud, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Tansman and Toch) to write a piece based on the book of Genesis. The seven-movement work (Shilkret himself wrote one of the movements) premiered in 1945 in Los Angeles. In the early 1960s there was a fire at Continue reading “The Genesis Suite”

All Robbins all evening: a Pacific Northwest Ballet Preview

Pacific Northwest Ballets dancers inDiscover the artistry of choreographer Jerome Robbins at a lecture and video preview of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s program, All Robbins. All Robbins includes three ballets: Fancy Free, In the Night and The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody) with music by Leonard Bernstein and Chopin.

Doug Fullington, Educational Programs Manager at PNB will discuss the cheorographer and the three ballets and answer questions Continue reading “All Robbins all evening: a Pacific Northwest Ballet Preview”

Turn It Up!: Cambodian Cassette Archives

cca.jpgUnless you were living in Phnom Penh in the 1960s, you’ve probably never heard anything quite like Cambodian Cassette Archives: Khmer Folk & Pop Music, Vol. 1  (Various Artists, 2004) before. Painstakingly compiled from over 150 cassettes found in the Asian branch of the Oakland Public Library (by folks at Seattle’s own Sublime Frequencies label), this album is an eclectic collection of rock, dance, new wave, ballads, and other pop songs made in Cambodia and the United States (by Cambodian expatriates) from the 1960s to the 1990s. Little is known about many of these artists, many of whom may have perished under Pol Pot’s despotic regime; indeed, many tracks have neither titles nor artist names.

Yet the lack of information about these songs doesn’t make this collection any less fun to listen to. Fusing operatic Cambodian vocals with psychedelic guitar noodlings, synth-driven beats, and funky horns, these tunes will startle and delight new listeners with their Continue reading “Turn It Up!: Cambodian Cassette Archives”

Tapping your feet at the Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet Dancers perform in A Sense of DoubtBallet is a feast for the eyes. But don’t forget your ears. DIRECTOR’S CHOICE, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s March 2008 program, includes some material from new choreographers and some unusual composers. Musical selections by Mikel Rouse, Arvo Paart, Phlip Glass and Thom Willems will be previewed in the Microsoft Auditorium of the Seattle Public Library’s Central Library on Tuesday, March 11, at noon. See The Library Calendar for more information. And once you’ve been to the preview or to the performance, explore more unique musical offerings by some of these composers.

  • Arvo Paart is a unique electronic book that combines a biography of this Estonia composer as well as selections from his music including material in the distinctive “tintinnabuli” style developed by Pärt. You can download the book by clicking on the link above.
  • Orient & Occident – a 2002 recording of Paart’s work by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. According to some critics this performance reveals Paart’s music genius at its most mystical.
  • Heroes Symphony – a 1997 recording by the American Composers Orchestra of this classic Philip Glass piece, which includes music by David Bowie and Brian Eno.
  • The Illusionist– a 2006 recording of Philip Glass’s score from the award-winning film from the Czech Film Orchestra. Glass’s dreamy and dramatic work won several awards for Best Score.

Leaving Deadwood

One thing I notice when watching some of the edgier television shows released on DVD for home viewing, is the excellent music selections that appear incidentally at the end or in the middle of a show, sort of audio riffs on some pragmatic theme. Whoever is choosing this music has a great ear for matching mood to sound.

Lately I’ve taken to following up and tracking down some great CD’s by finding a soundtrack compilation CD in the library collection, say music from the excellent HBO Shakespearean gone Western series Deadwood. Going through the list of performers on the CD leads me to these blues/folk/roots recordings in the library collection that I might otherwise have missed:

  • Press On by June Carter Cash, a Grammy award-winning recording issued late in her career
  • 1963 Isn’t 1962 by Bukka White, a terrific live recording of the blues great made after his “re-discovery” in 1963.
  • Animal Folk Songs for Children compiled and performed by Ruth Crawford Seeger, noted American Modernist and music scholar (no relation to Pete Seeger). She originally published this collection in 1948 for use in children’s music education

~posted by Kay K.