Yeah, yeah, I know action’s been pretty spotty here over the past few weeks. The good news is the website is fully functional, and all the files should now be back in place.
Instead of finishing off the Dumirescu article I’ve been dicking around with WordPress with a view to upgrading this blog, but editing the templates has turned into a frustrating way to expedite procrastination. Regular posting should resume now I’ve realised that shiny new blog look won’t happen in a hurry.
It was hard to shake off the feeling that I was in the midst of a cult when attending last month’s Spectrum XXI series of concerts. Before and during the gigs, which were essentially a vehicle for the composers Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram, little things kept niggling at my consciousness.
Dumitrescu’s scrappy, free-hosted website welcoming you to “the great experimental composer’s home page” conjures up memories of Madame Berthe Trépat (Gold Medal, Grenoble) from Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch. The programme announcement – on a different free-hosted website – makes the rather suprising promise of “World and UK premières by Dumitrescu, Avram, Diaz de Leon, Hodgkinson, Pape, Tsuda, Scelsi, Xenakis”, but in a bait-and-switch move favoured by many cults the actual gigs featured nothing by the last four composers. That’s OK though, because the link to the London programme from the main page doesn’t work.
If you look on the web for reviews of Dumitrescu’s work, you’ll probably first find panegyrics from Harry Halbreich and/or Ben Watson; two critics whose tastes tend to the cultish and whose praise tends to the fulsome. Watson himself was in the audience for a couple of the gigs, and occasionally stepped up front in his green suit and tennis shoes to recite some sound poetry to the faithful. This did not help to elucidate the music much.
More frequently, Ana-Maria Avram would introduce each piece in an attempt to convey to the punters just how important the music was, that they were about to hear. This well-intentioned but misplaced advocacy also brought back memories of Madame Berthe Trépat (Gold Medal, Grenoble), and her introduction to the stage by Valentin (“it represented for contemporary music one of the most profound innovations to which the composer, Madame Trépat, had given the name “prophetic syncretism.”)
As in Madame Trépat’s recital, there was a high proportion of world premieres: I count a whopping seventeen across the four London gigs in the programme, from a tour which had already been to Brussells and Paris. This doesn’t inspire confidence, not in either Dumitrescu’s or Avram’s quality control nor that all the performances will be as polished as they could be. In this and other ways, their enthusiasm would sometimes undermine their strengths as musicians.
After the ceremony there’s a dinner hosted by the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, whose name is Rocco. He wears handcrafted alligator cowboy boots with his black tuxedo. Marcel [Proost] asks him about the boots, which are, of course, a major conversation piece.
“You wrassle that ‘gator yourself?”
No, says the Chairman. He bought them in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had not known that they had alligators in Jackson Hole, but it could be they’ve migrated there to work in the hotel or food service business.
The Chairman is reputed to be a very wealthy man and a fan of theater, baseball, horse racing and country music, in other words our indigenous American beaux arts, our native Kunstwerke. Someone there tells me he contemplated buying the Cincinnati Reds but thought the asking price of one billion too high. Perhaps he could just buy the NEA for half that amount and not have to deal with the flamers in Congress. That would be an exemplary form of the great American tradition of privatizing.
That’s an excerpt from a recent entry in John Adams‘ blog, Hell Mouth. Yes. John “Nixon In China, Short Ride In A Fast Machine” Adams. (Note to self: check out some music he’s written in the past fifteen years or so.)
|Please Mister Please is up and running again, with your old favourites and a welcome return by Mister Buddy Greco. Beats me why there’s a blank space above this paragraph, so let’s just say I was trying to build up suspense.|
Also re-uploaded, Real Characters and False Analogues: twelve pieces for microtonal piano, all available for streaming or download.
Blogging is ready to recommence, and the rest of the music will be up again shortly. Everything else seems pretty much intact, but there should (hopefully) be some improvements coming soon.
This includes the long-promised writeup of the Dumitrescu gigs from, oh, a month ago now.
Apologies if the site went down at the end of last week. I was on a long weekend in Brighton and came home to find an email saying that my site had used up its bandwidth allocation.
I’ve now switched to a larger server which allows more traffic, but the music files have not yet been uploaded. They will be soon. In the meantime, to commemorate the closure of GeoCities last week, please enjoy this page of about eight billion Under Constuction icons.