Meet the Composer


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Episode Date
Paul Simon’s Curious Mind

Paul Simon has always been attracted to new kinds of sounds. From his early band Simon & Garfunkel in the 1960s through solo albums like Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints in the '80s and '90s, up through his recent albums So Beautiful or So What and Stranger to Stranger, Simon has made music that does what the very best art can do: it resonates with our experience, re-frames it, and introduces new timbres and ideas.

Recently, Simon’s curious mind has brought him into the world of contemporary classical music, mining the microtonal sound world of Harry Partch for his last record, and, just last month, collaborating with 10 composers and the ensemble yMusic on a set at the Eaux Claires music festival. On this episode of Meet the Composer – the final of Season Three – we hear Simon's perspective on his career and his most recent projects, as well as exclusive audio from the festival collaboration itself.

Heard a piece of music on this episode that you loved? Find out what it was here:

0:18—Andrew Norman: Music in Circles | Listen
2:23—Paul Simon: Insomniac’s Lullaby | Listen
5:04—Simon & Garfunkel: Mrs. Robinson | Listen
6:09—The Penguins: Earth Angel | Listen
7:05—Tom & Jerry: Hey Schoolgirl | Listen
7:48—Simon & Garfunkel: Sound of Silence | Listen
8:13—Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water | Listen
8:48—Paul Simon: Still Crazy After All These Years | Listen
9:09—Paul Simon: Hearts and Bones | Listen
10:00—Boyoyo Boys: Son Op | Listen
10:41—Paul Simon: Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes | Listen
11:03—Paul Simon: Boy in the Bubble | Listen
11:30—Paul Simon: Homeless | Listen
11:58—Paul Simon: Graceland | Listen
12:53—Ladysmith Black Mambazo: The Alphabet | Watch
13:22—Paul Simon: Under African Skies | Listen
14:50—Paul Simon: Crazy Love, Vol. II | Listen
15:38—Eddie Palmieri: Ay Que Rico | Listen
15:53—Various Artists: Hausa Street Music | Listen 
16:06—Various Artists: Oru Para Todos Los Santos | Listen
16:12—Various Artists: Songhay Gulu Drummers | Listen
16:24—Paul Simon: Further to Fly | Listen
17:08—Paul Simon: Obvious Child | Listen
18:58—Marcos Balter: Bladed Stance | Listen
20:56—Timo Andres: Safe Travels | Listen
23:40—Harry Partch: Cloud-Chamber Bowls | Listen
24:33—Harry Partch: The Bewitched, Scene One | Listen
25:14—Paul Simon: Insomniac’s Lullaby | Listen
26:27—Vincenzo Bellini: Casta Diva, from Norma | Listen
27:58—Sergei Prokofiev: Cello Sonata in C major, op. 119 | Listen
29:15—Paul Simon: Another Galaxy | Listen
31:44—Paul Simon: Kathy’s Song | Listen
32:14—Paul Simon: Train in the Distance | Listen
32:44—Paul Simon: Train in the Distance [acoustic demo] | Listen
35:08—Bob Dylan: The Ballad of a Thin Man | Listen
35:34—Gabriel Kahane: Veda (1 Pierce Dr.) | Listen
36:10—Paul Simon [arr. Gabriel Kahane]: Train in the Distance
37:32—Danny Brown: Ain’t It Funny | Listen
40:14—Paul Simon [arr. Robert Sirota]: America
42:32—Simon & Garfunkel: Sound of Silence | Listen
44:17—Simon & Garfunkel: America | Listen
46:15—Paul Simon [arr. Rob Moose]: Sound of Silence


Jul 10, 2017
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's 'Clouds Forming Over Mount Baker'

We began last week’s episode digging into the music of one particular electronic musician - the synthesist, producer and composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.

Today we’re thrilled to bring you a song that you won’t hear on any of Kaitlyn’s albums. Clouds Forming Over Mount Baker was commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery to accompany a landscape photograph by Eliot Porter.

It’s a fitting collaboration, as Kaitlyn grew up on Orcas Island, where Mt. Baker is a visible feature. Join us for this rich, synthesized soundscape, bringing sonic life to Porter’s beautiful photograph.  


Jun 12, 2017
The Producer

What happens when a composer writes music without pen and paper, using machines? How does that change the creative process? How does it morph the art itself? 

Today on Meet the Composer, our producer Alex Overington — usually behind the studio glass — takes us on a road trip to unravel the creative process of those composers who write without a score. We meet the synthesists, the samplers, the electronic musicians, and dive deep into the tools they’ve adopted to define their craft. 

Join us as we uncover what it means to be a composer who sculpts directly with sound, through conversations with such artists as Matmos, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Tyondai Braxton, Laurie Anderson, Morton Subotnick and more.


Heard a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:21—Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Rare Things Grow | Listen 
2:27—Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air | Listen 
3:16—Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor | Listen 
4:03—Gustave Mahler: Symphony No. 4, IV. Adagietto | Listen 
4:33—Oneohtrix Point Never: Problem Areas | Listen 
6:02—Matmos: Ultimate Care II | Listen 
6:30—Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: First Flight | Listen 
7:41—Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Envelop | Listen 
11:29—Matmos: Mister Mouth | Listen 
12:59—Morton Subotnick: Silver Apples of the Moon | Listen 
13:48—The Vogues: Five O'Clock World | Listen 
14:42—Arthur Smith: Banjo Boogie | Listen 
15:26—Morton Subotnick: Silver Apples of the Moon | Listen 
15:51—Stephen Foster: Camptown Races | Watch 
16:04—Johannes Pachabel: Canon in D | Listen 
16:55—Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Sundry | Listen 
18:25—Morton Subotnick: Silver Apples of the Moon | Listen 
20:28—Tyondai Braxton: Opening Bell | Listen 
20:56—Tyondai Braxton: Gracka | Listen 
22:43—Tyondai Braxton: Scout1 | Listen 
24:39—Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Wetlands | Listen 
28:30—Pierre Schaeffer & Pierre Henry: Orphée 53 | Listen 
29:25—Mistinguett: Mitsou | Listen 
29:38—Pierre Schaeffer & Pierre Henry: Orphée 53 | Listen 
29:57—The Sugarhill Gang: Apache [Jump On It] | Listen 
30:20—Kanye West: A "Dope Ass Beat" | Watch 
30:39—Matmos: Very Large Green Triangles | Listen 
31:26—Matmos: Ur Tchan Tan Tse Qi | Listen 
32:49—Jingle Cats: Jingle Bells | Listen 
33:22—Matmos: California Rhinoplasty | Listen 
34:28—Matmos: Lipostudio... And So On | Listen 
34:37—Matmos: L.A.S.I.K. | Listen 
35:20—Matmos: L.A.S.I.K. | Listen 
37:27—Matmos: You | Listen 
39:14—Matmos & So Percussion: Aluminum | Listen 
40:50—Matmos: Ultimate Care II | Listen 
47:46—Matmos: Ultimate Care II | Listen 
49:14—Laurie Anderson: Another Day in America | Listen 
53:04—Laurie Anderson: Sharkey's Day | Listen 
53:59—Edward Grieg: Lyric Pieces for the Piano, op. 43, "Butterfly" | Listen 
54:27—Laurie Anderson: My Right Eye | Listen 
55:31—Laurie Anderson: Another Day in America | Listen 
57:35—Laurie Anderson: The Lake [Instrumental] | Listen 


Jun 05, 2017
Bryce Dessner's 'Wires,' Performed by Ensemble Intercontemporain

For today’s Bonus Track, we’re thrilled to bring you the world-premiere recording of Bryce Dessner’s Wires, performed by Ensemble Intercontemporain!

Last week, we dug into a particularly contentious moment in classical music’s history. This week, however, we’re looking at where we are NOW, a place of, well… niceness.  

“I think right now is a really good time to be a composer,” says composer John Adams. “And I tell young composers that. They don't believe me, but they don't know how difficult it was back when I was in my 20s and 30s.”

We'll hear how David Lang’s group Bang on a Can helped to shape a newfound culture of support and generosity, and how the next generation of composers - including Bryce Dessner - can find creative freedom in this new landscape. Finally, we hear from Bryce what it’s like to write for “the Rolls Royce … of New Music,” with his new piece, Wires, for Ensemble Intercontemporian, led by Matthias Pintscher.  

Bryce Dessner's Wires is provided courtesy of Chester Music, part of the Music Sales Group, Ensemble Intercontemportain and SPEDIDAM (Société de Perception et de Répartition des Droits des Artistes-Interprètes.)

May 22, 2017
New Music Fight Club

It was composer pitted against composer: uptown vs. downtown, tonal vs. atonal, left brain vs right brain, and these musicians were NOT pulling any punches. Composers were antagonizing each other, questioning each other's validity, and bad-mouthing one another; it was like the second half of the 20th century was when Western Music went through middle school, and it was brutal!

“If you weren't being a constructivist composer, if the music wasn't indeed about its own structure, and its own structure wasn't complicated, then you were a pariah, you were rejected. You didn’t get tenure. You didn’t get a job.” That’s Robert Sirota - Nadia’s Dad - one of many composers who came of age in the midst of this feud and struggled - for years - to find a voice.

On this episode of Meet the Composer, we unravel one of the most contentious periods in classical music’s history. How did this fight begin? How did it play out? Who were the contenders?  We hear from composers on both sides of this battle, and discover how, on all ends of the aesthetic spectrum, we can find value in differences.


Heard a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:00—The Yorks: Love Without Reason, written by Barry Flicker
2:14—Robert Sirota: Pange Lingua Sonata | Buy 
3:30—Robert Sirota: Pange Lingua SonataBuy 
5:23—Philip Glass: Music in Twelve Parts | Listen 
6:31—Ruth Crawford Seeger: Study in Mixed Accents | Listen 
7:08—David Lang: orpheus over and under | Listen 
8:53—Richard Wagner: Overture from Tristan und Isolde | Listen 
9:36—Julia Ward Howe: Battle Hymn of the Republic | Watch 
11:27—Arnold Schoenberg: Klavierstüke, Op. 33 | Listen
12:04—Pierre Boulez: Piano Sonata No. 2 | Listen  
13:05—Pierre Boulez: Sur IncisesListen 
13:47—Lewis Nielsen: Oerknal! "...the crisis of conscience..." | Listen 
14:50—Charles Wuorinen: Two Part Symphony | Listen 
15:57—David Lang: the so-called laws of nature: part III | Listen 
17:59—Jr. Walker and the All-Stars: Shotgun | Listen 
18:47—Bob Dylan: Maggie's Farm | Buy 
19:09—Elliott Carter: String Quartet No. 2 | Listen 
19:45—Steve Reich: Violin Phase | Listen 
21:05—Elliott Carter: String Quartet No. 2Listen 
21:16—Charles Wuorinen: Second Piano Quintet | Listen 
22:10—John Adams: Phrygian Gates | Listen 
23:31—John Adams: Death of Klinghoffer | Listen 
24:08—David Lang: child, II. sweet air | Listen 
25:21—David Lang: almost all the time | Listen 
28:53—Brian Ferneyhough: La chute d'Icare | Listen 
30:58—Brian Ferneyhough: no time (at all) | Listen 
32:09—Brian Ferneyhough: Superscriptio | Listen 
33:36—J.S. Bach: Invention No. 15 in B minor | Listen 
34:26—J.S. Bach: Mass in B minor, "Crucifixus" | Listen 
38:49—David Lang: breathless | Listen 

May 15, 2017
Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Live at the Village Vanguard

Henry Threadgill’s music and community can’t be separated; there is no boundary: challenge and failure and growth in music are the same as challenge and failure and growth in life. This Meet the Composer bonus track shares an exclusive performance by Henry Threadgill's Zooid ensemble of I Never, recorded live by Q2 Music at the Village Vanguard on Oct. 2, 2016.

Throughout his career, Threadgill has led countless ensembles with diverse instrumentations and personalities. And in each of them, he finds a way to unearth a type of asymmetry – a blend of unease and transcendence that comes across in his remarkably structured compositions. He unites musicians in the same way as he composes: with affection for the mysterious, embrace of the unexpected, and spontaneity guided by a rigorous intellect. As Threadgill has said, “Improvisation is a way to live your life and solve problems.” Music is one outlet, one way to activate this philosophy, which is something we hear echoed often from his collaborators.

In this recording, we hear the 2016 Pulitzer Prize laureate leading his longest standing chamber ensemble, Zooid, in a live performance inside the legendary New York City underground jazz venue, the Village Vanguard.


Henry Threadgill, alto sax
Liberty Ellman, tres
Christopher Hoffman, cello
José Davila, tuba
Elliot Humberto Kavee, drums, percussion

This live recording was produced by Curtis Macdonald and engineered by Edward Haber (technical director and remix), Irene Trudel, Duke Markos, Bill Moss and Curtis Macdonald.

May 08, 2017
Henry Threadgill: Dirt, and More Dirt

1967, Fort Riley, Kansas. Henry Threadgill is 23 years old. Knowing he’s going to be drafted into the military, he joins the Army Concert Band, hoping to focus on his passion: writing music. As he surrounds himself with new ideas, he works his influences into the music that he's arranging. Then one day, the band plays one of his arrangements of a patriotic song for an inauguration of big-wigs, and from the calm of a quietly confused crowd comes a cry from a cardinal in attendance: “Blasphemy!”

One day later, he’s told to gather his things. Thirty days later, he’s on his way to Vietnam. Fifty years later, he wins the Pulitzer Prize for music composition.

This is only the beginning of the story of how the energy, hunger and curiosity of Henry Threadgill have influenced and changed the people around him. In spite of the failure and rejection he’s faced, Threadgill is perpetually driven toward new ideas, new challenges and new opportunities to pursue and grow stronger in his improvisational creative vision. His music is the product of the community he builds in the moment.

This is the story of Henry Threadgill, told by the people whose lives he has touched.

Heard a piece of music that you loved? Discover it here!

1:32—Samuel Ward: America the Beautiful | Listen 
1:47—Cecil Taylor: Air Above Mountains | Listen 
1:51—Igor Stravinsky: Rite of Spring | Listen 
1:57—Thelonious Monk: Solo Monk | Listen 
2:58—The Star-Spangled Banner, re-imagined by Meet the Composer
3:29—Henry Threadgill: Someplace | Buy 
3:47—Henry Threadgill: Higher Places | Buy 
5:24—Henry Threadgill: Little Pocket-Sized Demons | Buy 
6:00—Nico Muhly: Mothertongue: I. Archive | Listen 
6:20—Henry Threadgill: The Devil is on the Loose and Dancing with a Monkey | Listen 
6:58—Henry Threadgill: Try Some Ammonia | Listen 
9:00—Edward Ciuksza: Basia | Listen 
9:07—Demiran Cerimovic: Laca's Proud Cocek | Listen 
9:17—Sallie Martin Singers: Jesus | Listen 
9:28—Howlin' Wolf: Back Door Man | Listen 
10:20—Ernest Tubb & Red Foley: Hillbilly Fever | Listen 
10:33—Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, op. 107 | Listen 
10:39—Big Maybelle: Do Lord | Listen 
10:52—Meade Lux Lewis: Honky Tonk Train Blues | Listen 
12:17—Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life | Listen 
13:11—Bishop Samuel Kelsey & Others: Tell Me How Long Has The Train Been Gone | Listen 
14:19—Henry Threadgill: Where's Your Cup | Listen 
16:10—Muhal Richard Abrams: Wise in Time | Listen 
18:02—Muhal Richard Abrams: Marching With Honor | Listen 
18:09—George Lewis: Voyager Duo 4 | Listen 
18:16—Amina Claudine Myers: African Blues | Listen 
18:24—Roscoe Mitchell: A Game of Catch | Listen 
18:30—Wadada Leo Smith: Lake Michigan | Listen 
18:31—Henry Threadgill: Old Locks & Irregular Verbs | Listen 
28:03—Henry Threadgill: Old Locks & Irregular VerbsListen 
29:15—Henry Threadgill: Subject to Change: This | Buy 
34:08—Henry Threadgill: In for a Penny, Out for a Pound | Listen 
37:27—Henry Threadgill: Old Locks & Irregular VerbsListen 

May 01, 2017
Bonus Track: John Adams' 'Coast,' Unplugged

Today's bonus track is an exclusive arrangement of a nutso, sci-fi-y electronic piece John Adams wrote in 1993. Originally part of a larger work, Hoodoo Zephyr, Coast was never intended to be performed live. However, the 20-person chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound has often been tempted by electronic works. Violinist, composer, and Alarm Will Sound member Caleb Burhans, who cut his teeth arranging works by Aphex Twin for the group, adapted Adams' work. While Alarm Will Sound has performed this piece several times, we're proud to bring this you exclusive recording! 

Mar 21, 2017
Splitting Adams: John Adams' Chamber Symphonies

What happens when the composer shows up to the first rehearsal of his brand-new piece? Would a living Beethoven sue for intellectual property? Are you the hit, or are you in the hole? For this episode, we collaborated with the 20-member chamber ensemble Alarm Will Sound and its conductor Alan Pierson – with whom we're partnering on the upcoming podcast album Splitting Adams (out April 21 on Cantaloupe Music) – to take a close look at the music of John Adams, specifically his two insanely difficult chamber symphonies. This episode offers unprecedented access to not only to the creative process, but the weird, woolly procedure of putting these massive pieces together.

Heard a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

1:48—John Adams: Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
2:12—Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, Mondestrunken | Listen | Buy 
2:29—Richard Strauss: Five Piano Pieces, op. 3: IV, allegro molto | Listen | Buy 
3:08—Ray Noble: The Midnight, The Stars and You | Listen | Buy 
3:13—Busby Berkeley: Hooray for Hollywood | Listen | Buy 
3:55—Louis Armstrong: You're Lucky to Me | Listen | Buy 
4:37—George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue | Listen | Buy 
5:20—John Adams: Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
5:58—John Adams: The Death of Klinghoffer | Buy 
7:30—Arnold Schoenberg: Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
8:53—John Adams: Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
19:10—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
20:46—Danny Elfman: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, The Breakfast Machine | Listen | Buy 
21:10—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
22:19—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
24:25—Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, mvt. I | Listen | Buy 
24:51—Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, mvt. II | Listen | Buy 
25:00—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
26:01—Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, mvt. II | Listen | Buy 
26:28—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
31:33—John Adams: Fellow Traveler | Listen | Buy 
31:42—John Adams: Nixon in China | Listen | Buy 
31:56—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 
32:24—John Adams: Fellow Traveler | Listen | Buy 
32:33—John Adams: Son of Chamber Symphony | Listen | Buy 

Mar 20, 2017
Bonus Track: Pauline Oliveros' 'Tuning Meditation'

Today's Meet the Composer Bonus Track is an extended cut of Pauline Oliveros' Tuning Meditation, recorded live at the Fuentidueña Chapel at the Met Cloisters on Jan. 20, 2017. Recorded in 3D-sounding binaural audio, it's an immersive experience in which we would love you to think about participating while listening. For optimal audio quality, please listen with headphones!

Mar 16, 2017
The Performer: Part Two, Pauline

Meet the Composer continues its investigation of the odd, wrong-side-of-the-tv-set role of The Performer with a deep dive into the Sonic Meditations of pioneering American composer Pauline Oliveros.

Oliveros manages to smudge at the distinction between composer, performer and audience with these simple, text-based pieces, which somehow pack an emotional wallop far larger than their few lines might suggest.

Heard a piece of music that you loved? Discover it here!

0:49—Pauline Oliveros: Lear | Listen | Buy 
4:15—Henry Francis Lyte: Abide with me | Listen | Buy
4:37—Pauline Oliveros: Nike | Listen | Buy 

5:10—Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata No. 31 in A flat, op. 110 | Listen | Buy 
7:20—Pauline Oliveros: Continuing Variations
8:05—Pauline Oliveros: Nike | Listen | Buy 
8:16—Pauline Oliveros: Sound Patterns
8:47—Pauline Oliveros: The Well and the Gentle | Listen 
10:37—Pauline Oliveros: Who Said What
12:11—Pauline Oliveros: Ione | Listen | Buy 
14:50—Pauline Oliveros: Bye Bye Butterfly | Listen | Buy 
15:27—Pauline Oliveros: I of IV | Listen | Buy
15:33—Pauline Oliveros: Something Else | Listen | Buy
15:38—Pauline Oliveros: Tara's Room | Listen | Buy
15:41—Pauline Oliveros: Silence
15:43—Pauline Oliveros: River of Folk Dance | Listen | Buy
15:46—Pauline Oliveros: Lear | Listen | Buy 
16:37—Pauline Oliveros: Ione| Listen | Buy 
18:55—Pauline Oliveros: Sonic Meditation XII: One Word
25:14—Pauline Oliveros: Tuning Meditation

Mar 14, 2017
Bonus Track: JACK Quartet Performs Georg Friedrich Haas' String Quartet No. 9

Meet the Composer is thrilled to bring you a world-premiere recording as our first bonus track of Season Three!

Our previous episode The Performer: Part One featured, among other things, a really fascinating conversation with the Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas (if you haven’t heard the episode yet, go check it out!). As we are a talk show about music, we are always dying to simply play some music, and so today we bring you our exclusive, first recording of Haas’ 9th String Quartet. The whole thing! Featuring the fantastic JACK Quartet.

The JACK Quartet has spent years performing and championing an older piece of Haas’, his 3rd String Quartet. They played it so well, in fact, Haas decided to write his 9th quartet specifically for the JACKs, taking full advantage of their superpower: just intonation. So we figured, what could be better than having the JACKs over to Q2 Music to bring this piece to life?

Like his 3rd String Quartet, this piece comes with an unusual stipulation: it is to be performed in complete, india ink, can’t-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face darkness. So turn out the lights and join Meet the Composer and the JACKs for the first-ever recording of this spectacular piece of oddly-tuned awesome. –Nadia Sirota

Mar 07, 2017
The Performer: Part One

We're kicking off Season Three of Meet the Composer with a look beyond the composer to the performer, that unusual intermediary between the artist and the audience. How do performers from different cultures, who speak different languages, come together to perform the same piece? What happens when an ensemble completely messes up... and the audience loves it? How does a piece change when it’s played nonstop for twelve hours?

We explore these questions and more, taking a seat on stage as we find out what it’s like to experience music from the inside-out.

Hear a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:59—David Lang: Just | Listen | Buy 
4:51—Kayhan Kalhor: Silent City | Listen 
6:04—Kayhan Kalhor: Silent City Listen 
9:30—Robert Schumann: String Quartet No. 3 in A minor | Listen | Buy 
11:13—Evan Ziporyn: Sulvasutra | Listen | Buy
14:39—Kayhan Kalhor: Silent City | Listen 
15:09—The xx: Lips | Listen | Buy
17:08—Georg Friedrich Haas: Limited Approximations | Listen 
18:13—Georg Friedrich Haas: String Quartet No. 3 | Listen 
19:44—Georg Friedrich Haas: Morgen und Abend | Listen 
20:59—W.A. Mozart: The Magic Flute | Listen | Buy 
23:05—Georg Friedrich Haas: Hyperion | Listen 
24:00—Franz Schubert: String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804 | Listen | Buy 
24:22—Georg Friedrich Haas: In Nomine | Listen | Buy 
27:13—Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata No 21 in C minor, D 958 | Listen | Buy  
34:36—The National: Sorrow | Listen | Buy 
37:09—W.A. Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro, "Contessa perdono" | Listen | Buy 
44:33—Nico Muhly: Mothertongue, "I. Archive" | Listen | Buy 

Mar 06, 2017
From the Vaults, Part Five: Meet the Composer With Leonard Bernstein

Meet the Composer with Nadia Sirota – Q2 Music's podcast about the musical creative process – returns for its third season on Monday, March 6. Pre-game for the new season with a week of clips from the original WNYC radio program. Meet the Composer is available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

We conclude the week-long ramp-up to our next and third season with an interview with the legendary, charismatic Leonard Bernstein. Though mostly known for his work as a composer (West Side Story) and conductor (New York Philharmonic), Leonard Bernstein was also a consummate evangelist for classical music. This conversation focuses on Bernstein's efforts as a music educator and the role that education played for host Tim Page in his music criticism.

Hear a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:05—Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring Listen | Buy 
0:49—Leonard Bernstein: Overture from Candide | Listen  | Buy
1:13—Leonard Bernstein: "Maria," from West Side Story, feat. Jose Carreras | Listen | Buy 
2:33—Gioachino Rossini: Overture from William TellListen | Buy
2:49—Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story | Listen | Buy 
3:44—Leonard Bernstein: Serenade after Plato's "Symposium" | Listen | Buy 
6:11—Leonard Bernstein: Suite from Candide | Listen | Buy 
7:16—Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront | Listen | Buy 
9:12—Leonard Bernstein: Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety" | Listen | Buy 
10:37—Leonard Bernstein: Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety" | Listen | Buy 

Mar 03, 2017
From the Vaults, Part Four: Meet the Composer With Libby Larsen

Meet the Composer with Nadia Sirota – Q2 Music's podcast about the musical creative process – returns for its third season on Monday, March 6. Pre-game for the new season with a week of clips from the original WNYC radio program. Meet the Composer is available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

A blast from the past featuring the composer Libby Larsen. Larsen explains how living in Minneapolis facilitated her success as a composer, and how federal regulations in Title IX provided an uplift to women composers in the U.S. This week, we're revisiting interviews conducted in the 1980s by the influential music critic and educator Tim Page. His show, which aired from 1981 until 1992, was called Meet the Composer and featured some of the most towering musical figures of the previous century. Join us tomorrow for one more throwback episode, and stay tuned on Monday for the premiere of Meet the Composer's third season.

Hear a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:05—Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring | Listen | Buy 
1:05—Aaron Copland: Hoedown | Listen | Buy 
1:09—Paul Simon: I Know What I Know | Listen | Buy 
1:27—Kaija Saariaho: Nymphea | Listen | Buy 
1:39—Julius Eastman: Stay On It | Listen | Buy 
1:48—Libby Larsen: Barn Dances | Listen | Buy 
4:34—Virgil Thomson: Autumn, Promenade | Listen 
6:47—Libby Larsen: Full Moon in the City | Listen | Buy 

Mar 02, 2017
From the Vaults, Part Three: Meet the Composer With Otto Luening

Meet the Composer with Nadia Sirota – Q2 Music's podcast about the musical creative process – returns for its third season on Monday, March 6. Pre-game for the new season with a week of clips from the original WNYC radio program. Meet the Composer is available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

Today's blast from the past features the composers and electronic experimentalists Alvin Lucier and Otto Luening. Page introduces us to Lucier's seminal tape piece, I am sitting in a room, and Luening tells the story of his first foray into electronic composition. Luening also wonders at the interest a younger generation has taken in his very earliest music, decades after its conception.

Hear a piece of music you loved in the show? Discover it here!

0:05—Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring | Listen | Buy 
0:55—Alvin Lucier: I am sitting in a room | Listen | Buy 
3:37—Otto Luening: String Quartet No. 2 | Buy 
3:48—Otto Luening: Low Speed | Listen | Buy 
5:27—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 1 in G, K. 313 | Listen | Buy 
5:43—Otto Luening: Fantasy in Space | Listen | Buy 
6:29—Otto Luening: Incantation | Listen | Buy 
6:46—Benjamin Britten: Missa Brevis in D, Op. 63 | Listen | Buy 
7:39—Otto Luening: String Quartet No. 2 | Buy 

Mar 01, 2017
From the Vaults, Part Two: Meet the Composer With John Cage

Meet the Composer with Nadia Sirota – Q2 Music's podcast about the musical creative process – returns for its third season on Monday, March 6. Pre-game for the new season with a week of clips from the original WNYC radio program. Meet the Composer is available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

We continue the week-long ramp-up to our next and third season with an interview with the widely influential patriarch of 20th-century experimental music John Cage. In this conversation with host Tim Page, Cage explains how his strenuous connection with music precipitated his experiments with silence, ambient noise and spirituality. Page offers his own straightforward critique of Cage's discoveries and reiterates the need for objectivity and seclusion in music criticism.

Hear a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:05—Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring | Listen | Buy 
0:48—John Cage: Suite for Toy Piano | Listen | Buy 
1:54—John Cage: Quartet (Santa Monica, California 1936), II. Very Slow | Listen 
3:03—John Cage: Sonata VII | Listen
8:20—John Cage: Bacchanale | Listen | Buy 
10:24—John Cage: Six | Listen | Buy 

Feb 28, 2017
From the Vaults, Part One: Meet the Composer With Tim Page

Meet the Composer with Nadia Sirota – Q2 Music's podcast about the musical creative process – returns for its third season on Monday, March 6. Pre-game for the new season with a week of clips from the original WNYC radio program. Meet the Composer is available on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

As we build up to the launch of our third season next Monday, March 6, we thought we'd look back at the original WNYC radio program Meet the Composer from the mid-'80s, hosted by the illustrious music critic Tim Page, currently a professor of music and journalism at USC. We'll share excerpts of his interviews with some of the most exciting figures in contemporary music, but before that we wanted to check in with Tim himself, a man for whom music has played an enormous force in his life, in his career, and even for his psychological well-being. We ask him how he found his way into music criticism, where that first Meet the Composer radio program came from, and what role music has played in his recovery after a recent traumatic brain injury.

Hear a piece of music you loved? Discover it here!

0:05—Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring | Listen | Buy 
1:15—Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring | Listen | Buy 
2:58—Maurice Ravel: La Valse | Listen | Buy
3:20—Luciano Berio: Sinfonia, mvt. III | Listen | Buy
3:22—Philip Glass: Music in Changing Parts | Listen | Buy
4:36—Dizzy Gillespie: Night in Tunisia | Listen | Buy 
7:18—Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2, mvt. III | Listen | Buy 
8:05—Giacomo Puccini: La Bohème: Donde lieta uscì | Listen | Buy 
8:24—Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2, mvt. III | Listen | Buy 
8:48—Elliott Carter: Of Rewaking | Listen 
9:02—Elliott Carter: Retrouvailles | Listen 
9:08—Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2, mvt. III | Listen | Buy

Feb 27, 2017
Kickstart Season Three of Meet the Composer

Hi, I’m Nadia Sirota, host of Meet the Composer (MTC). MTC is a podcast that confronts the artists and art that move us, using radio storytelling to tease out what makes these pieces and people tick. We aim to share the music we love with anyone who is down to listen. Music can be tricky to talk about, so when words fail, Meet the Composer uses all of the tools in our arsenal – sound design, phrasing, underscoring, and sonic embroidery – to share what we love about music with our audience. MTC is art and artists, exposed.

Just a few weeks ago, we were blown away to hear that MTC won a 2015 Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor, praise which put us in the heady company of Radiolab and This American Life. The Peabody committee described MTC as “Fascinating, intelligent, enlightening podcasts devoted to the work of current classical composers. The show integrates music with thoughtful conversation about it without distracting from either.”

We've been humbled by the overwhelming reception from our listeners. Since the show launched in June 2014, listeners from 183 countries have downloaded MTC more than 540,000 times! We've also had big shout-outs from The Guardian and The New York Times with the headlines “Meet the Composer: the podcast that's demystifying classical music” and “With ‘Meet the Composer,’ Nadia Sirota Illuminates New Music.”

Both seasons were funded in large part by your contributions via Kickstarter, so, honestly, we could not have made this happen without your support. We hope we have rewarded your trust with beautiful, composed radio, and we want to start making you more

With our upcoming third season, we are excited to take on new formats for the show and to follow creative themes past individual composers to stranger and more exotic conclusions. An emphasis on the driving forces that compel composers to put pen to paper will be a key component of Season Three. We will continue to profile composers but also unpack breakthrough pieces and dig into those moments when musical styles clashed, flirted and mutated between all types of composers, both living and dead! We will continue to compose radio with probing interviews, expert commentary and through-composed sound design.

Learn about our current and critical Kickstarter campaign and help today to make Season Three a reality. 

May 10, 2016
Download: 'Viola Concerto: Part II' by Nico Muhly

I'm so excited to share today's Meet the Composer bonus track with you. Last October, I traveled to Detroit to perform the US premiere of Nico Muhly's viola concerto with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Leonard Slatkin. The orchestra has graciously agreed to let us use the second movement of the viola concerto for our show for three months, so this is our first ever LIMITED-TIME bonus track. 

Nico wrote the concerto in 2014, and in a lot of ways it's the fruit of 10 years of our working together. The piece is in three movements, and this movement, Part II, is sort of the emotional heart of the piece. It's soulful and colorful and I adore playing it. 

At the end of the movement the viola line suffers a sort of massive emotional breakdown, which is then answered by a huge orchestral explosion, featuring a giant tam-tam (gong) and all sorts of low-brass rumbles. In the aftermath, individual members of the orchestra play small phrases independently of each other, finally reuniting in a wounded coda. 

This is my favorite part of the concerto to play. 

Many, many thanks to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin for making this bonus track possible!

Dec 28, 2015
Nico Muhly: Community Theater

First, a disclaimer. I wanna make something clear right off the bat here: I'm completely in the tank for Nico Muhly. We went to college together and he has been one of my best friends and most frequent collaborators ever since. But! He is deeply gifted creator, and honestly I'd feel insane not featuring him just because we're close.


Nico is a composer with a very specific point of view – a rabid communicator whose personality factors massively in his work. Nico works extremely well with others; his collaborators live and create in an environment that is just foreign enough to instigate surprising, brilliant results. He curates community on a grand scale, corresponding with dozens of people a day, and is the hardest working person I have ever met. Nico lives his life out loud, and his music is stunning, hilarious, touching, and brilliant. - Nadia Sirota

Dec 11, 2015
Download: Anna Thorvaldsdottir's 'Scape' Performed by Pianist Cory Smythe

This week’s Meet the Composer Bonus Track is a world premiere recording of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s piano work ScapeScape, like many of Anna’s works, uses extended techniques to create unique, otherworldly textures. For this piece, Anna demands quite a bit of playing INSIDE the instrument, as well as a few somewhat unconventional preparations to the instrument itself.

Prepared piano basically means a piano with stuff in it, screws, thimbles, tin foil, pieces of paper, the type of thing that’ll make a piano technician start to sweat. The first couple people to do this type of thing were crazy Americans, Henry Cowell and John Cage. Definitely take a moment to check those guys out, if you have a sec.

Anna, very much in keeping with her timbral language, uses these techniques to carve out massive swaths of sonic texture, creating a huge universe in a relatively limited time frame.

A couple weeks ago, Cory Smythe, pianist for the International Contemporary Ensemble, stopped by the Q2 Music studios to create the beautiful world premiere recording. –Nadia Sirota

Nov 24, 2015
Anna Thorvaldsdottir: Composing Is Second Nature

Anna Thorvaldsdottir is an Icelandic composer whose work conjures entire environments of sound, surrounding the listener in a dark and forbidding landscape. Anna thinks sonically; her music comes from a deeply non-verbal place, and she has developed a brilliant workflow which allows these ideas to remain mostly whole and unmolested through her creative process. Anna often favors massive ensembles, writing delicate and detailed parts for every player, but even when she is writing for smaller forces, she somehow summons these massive sonorities — detailed, elegant tapestries with a seductive gravity, which pull the listener in with their gradually revolving color and texture. - Nadia Sirota

Nov 09, 2015
Download: The Lost Movement of Ingram Marshall's String Quartet, "Voces Resonae"

Today’s MTC bonus track is a WORLD PREMIERE! Or, apropos of its October release, we might call it a movement brought back from the dead. This undead movement was born back in 1981, when Ingram Marshall wrote a string quartet for the Kronos Quartet called Voces Resonae.

The piece employed, among other things, very complicated choreography for a sound engineer operating delay units (big physical boxes about the size of say a DVD player), a task which, at the time, was completed by Ingram himself. However, when the third movement of this work, "Turbulent but flowing," proved too logistically complex to be performed, it was essentially put in a drawer, where it has remained for the last thirty-some years. 

That’s where we come in! MTC has enlisted the fabulous Parker Quartet to help us rescue this lost movement, with the help of MTC producer Curtis Macdonald playing the role of, as Ingram put it, “the mad scientist in the middle.”  Except in our contemporary take on the piece, all the delays and echoes are created with software instead of hardware. 

The Parker Quartet is:

Daniel Chong, violin
Ying Xue, violin
Jessica Bodner, viola
Kee-Hyun Kim, cello

We hope you enjoy the Lost Movement! - Nadia Sirota

Special thanks to publisher Peermusic Classical for allowing this usage.

Oct 13, 2015
Ingram Marshall: A Connecticut Hippie In California

Ingram Marshall is often called a California Minimalist, a title which, while not exactly geographically accurate, allies him with a loose cadre of artists writing ambient, visceral scores. It’s a title he’ll happily wear, but it only vaguely describes they art he makes.

Ingram is kind of a throwback – a free-thinker making music on his own, music that accesses a deep, emotional place. His music leaves the listener gutted, keyed into something beyond consciousness. It’s ambience with a purpose, slowly inevitably unfolding towards a climax. - Nadia Sirota

Immerse yourself in Ingram Marshall's music with our weeklong pop-up stream

Oct 05, 2015
Download: LPR Live Preview and 'Memory Pieces' by David Lang

I’m thrilled this week to give you a sneak peek of a new Q2 Music podcast called LPR Live coming out this Fall. It’s hosted by Conor Hanick, a longtime friend and radio colleague, a brilliant pianist and all-around sensitive and insightful advocate for new music. The performances will come from Greenwich Village's Le Poisson Rouge, a stalwart showcase for new music in New York City and a trendsetting venue that's been “serving art and alcohol since 2009.”

Here’s a quote from Conor about the show:

This is not your typical pre-concert hosting, and the content is not your typical pre-concert banter. Each episode of LPR Live will weave together a variety of voices that bring you into the heart of the beast of this dynamic downtown, underground performance space and into the personal aspects of the music’s creation and presentation. This is a podcast that will let this exciting new music take its first (digital) breath. Production will create a sonic space where each strand is able to “converse” with its surroundings, and the richness and multi-dimensionality of the voices themselves will create the form, almost like eavesdropping on a conversation in the performer’s greenroom.

Join me in welcoming LPR Live into the podcasting family, and stay tuned for more Meet the Composer goodies in the weeks to come. 

-Nadia Sirota

Aug 26, 2015
Download: Kaija Saariaho's 'Light and Matter' from the Library of Congress

I am so thrilled to bring you this Meet the Composer Bonus Track! We are extremely lucky to present this recording of Kaija Saariaho's piano trio Light and Matter, taped live at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress, just this past May 22 by the world-class ensemble of violinist Jennifer Koh, cellist Anssi Karttunen and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute.

It's lovely, colorful, and you are some of the first people to hear it... after Justice Ginsburg, of course!

The composer’s program note is below:

"The starting point for the music is light kinetic energy, which is then developed into more dramatic gestures and rapid exchanges among the three instruments. The piece advances in spinning motion, moving from the original luminous fabric into more thematic patterns or towards the inertia of slow choral textures, 11 before returning into the original weightlessness and starting a new flickering spin.

As a result, we hear three musical elements–kinetic texture, thematic motives and slowly moving choral material–in constantly changing combinations and orchestrations. I wrote this piece in New York, while watching from my window the changing light and colors of Morningside Park.

Besides providing me with the name for the piece, perhaps that continuous transformation of light on the glinting leaves and the immobile trunks of the solid trees became the inspiration for the musical materials in this piece."

I hope you enjoy!
-Nadia Sirota

Light and Matter (2014) is published by Chester Music, Ltd.

Commissioned by the Library of Congress Dina Koston and Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music (in honor of the 90th anniversary of Concerts from the Library of Congress), Britten Sinfonia and Norrbotten NEO, and co-commissioned by the Aeolian Chamber Players in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Bowdoin International Music Festival.

Engineering credits: Michael E. Turpin

Aug 11, 2015
Kaija Saariaho: Ears Open

Kaija Saariaho's music evokes all sorts of natural sounds, the kinds of complex, white noise-y sounds that we often tune out. She's able to take the instruments of the orchestra and pull out of them the sound of wind rustling through trees, or waves hitting the shore. She's got this ear that can hear the music everything, but in not in a John Cage way — she's not putting all sounds on an equal playing field. Instead, she teases harmonies out of these sounds, finding notes that were aaaalmost there to begin with.

Kaija is famous for writing moving, visceral works full of difficult new instrumental techniques. She often writes for acoustic instruments with almost subliminal electronic manipulation — it's hard to tell where the performer leaves off and the electronics begin, and she's written full scale operas, often with strong, historically-inspired female protagonists, grappling with huge themes, love and death, that kind of thing. - Nadia Sirota

Jul 30, 2015
Bonus Track: 'Stringsongs' by Meredith Monk

I am absolutely THRILLED to present this week’s bonus track, an exclusive in-studio performance of Meredith Monk’s transcendent string quartet Stringsongs.

Stringsongs is Meredith’s first string quartet. Written in 2005, the piece was premiered by the Kronos Quartet. I am extremely proud to share this piece now, in a performance by the inimitable ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) in the Q2 Music studios.

In the Meet The Composer: Meredith Monk episode, we spent a considerable amount of time focusing on the fascinating processes Meredith has employed constructing some of her vocal music — namely, her using her vocal ensemble to workshop ideas in the air. Stringsongs is an example of a completely different working style; these days, Meredith has been writing more and more scored, instrumental music, and Stringsongs was developed very much that way. The piece is in four movements: "Cliff Light," "Tendrils," "Obsidian Chorale," and "Phantom Strings." This work is a gorgeous example of Meredith lending her gilded aesthetic to a very Classical format.

The composer’s program note is below:

In Stringsongs, my first piece for string quartet, I explored using instruments to create unexpected textures and sounds in much the same way that I have worked with the voice over many years.  I was inspired by the profound musicianship and passionate commitment of the Kronos Quartet. During the rehearsal period, as I got to know the players, the music came to life in surprising ways, colored by the distinctive "voice" of each musician.  

Stringsongs is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

This recording session was engineered by Irene Trudel.

Jul 14, 2015
Meredith Monk: Creation as Spiritual Practice

Living legend Meredith Monk is a composer, vocalist, dancer,choreographer and filmmaker. While all of these descriptors are technically on point, none quite gets to the bones of who she is as an artist. Meredith seamlessly blends these media into arresting performance pieces that feel like rituals -- rites from another dimension. While most of her music has no text, it somehow communicates volumes.

For Meredith, words are too "pointy," and can never get at the spaces between emotions. Meredith has been crafting these meticulous works for over fifty years now, and she's never satisfied unless she's pushing herself to find something new, something special. 

Watch an episode of Q2 Spaces in Meredith's Tribeca home-studio:


Jun 30, 2015
Announcing Season Two of Meet the Composer

Hi, I'm Nadia Sirota, host of Q2 Music's Meet the Composer (MTC). We set out to create something really different with MTC – a look into the minds and creative processes of composers making some of the most innovative, strange and breathtakingly beautiful music today. And we wanted to make these audio portraits feel like a musical experience.

Because you supported our Season One Kickstarter, we were able to bring to life our first five hour-long, fully sound-designed episodes. We couldn't have done it without your help. We're so proud of how Season One turned out and so thrilled that MTC spoke to you

You listened to Meet the Composer over 200,000 times from over 70 countries, via iTunes, and Tens of thousands heard MTC on terrestrial radio in New York (WNYC), but also in Los Angeles and soon Chicago. We got some great coverage for Season One, including from Radiolab, the BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Vogue plus a wealth of comments and social media posts you can check out here.

Here's what Jad Abumrad of WNYC's Radiolab had to say: "Compelling and beautifully produced. One of the best things I've heard in a long time... Talking about music in a way that's compelling can be hard. And so when people do it well, I just feel like you gotta give them props."

Help us make Season Two a reality. Learn about our five featured Season Two composers and support Meet the Composer today on Kickstarter

Apr 07, 2015
Bonus Track: 'Intercepting a Shivery Light' by Marcos Balter

Building on a long-standing collaborative relationship, Marcos Balter wrote Intercepting a Shivery Light for the Anubis Quartet, a saxophone ensemble, in 2012. The piece's title is an anagram for Everything in its Right Place, a Radiohead song, which Marcos admits is an important song for him "and many members of [his] generation."

The saxophone quartet is a particularly pliable medium, in that the four members can blend seamlessly in a way that's impossible for other instrument groups (gauntlet thrown!). As a result, this piece is an excellent example of one of the hallmarks of Marcos' music: turning a group of people into one thing (for the record, he also likes to turn one person into a whole group of people; check out his Memória for solo cello).

This month's Bonus Track is a live recording of the Anubis Quartet performing Intercepting a Shivery Light, from the world premiere at the Music Institute of Chicago in 2012. The Anubis Quartet is Allison Balcetis, David Wegehaupt, Sean Patayanikorn, and Ryan Muncy.

Nov 12, 2014
Marcos Balter: Failure Is an Option

For Marcos Balter, stellar composition requires the dedicated, daily practice of an athlete. He doesn't think it possible to unearth and hone brilliant musical ideas without slogging through a whole bunch of failures along the way, nor does he believe that the compositional demigods we revere so highly – Bach, Beethoven, Mozart – birthed only masterpieces. He worries too many creatives get tongue-tied attempting consistent genius, and that their work suffers for it. Marcos has learned to embrace failure, and that these failures can lead to incredible breakthroughs.

Marcos is a composer whose manic energy and relentless work ethic effuse from everything he touches: friendships, pedagogy, and especially his music. His fast-talking, whip-smart style is easy to detect in his intricate scores. His music reverberates and pulses with energy, sometimes in such a small container, or in such a demure dynamic that the score feels almost radioactive.

Marcos Balter's point of view is singular; he can roll with the modernists and the minimalists with ease, and yet his music doesn't really fit any particular rubric. His carefully constructed works have fine grammar, well-planned architecture and often astonishing material. He is a master at finding unexpected timbral rhyme that delights and surprises.

Oct 30, 2014
Bonus Track: 'Its Motion Keeps' by Caroline Shaw

In 2012, the Grammy award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus commissioned the the future Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw to write a new work for their upcoming Benjamin Britten centenary celebration concert at Carnegie Hall. The result, "Its Motion Keeps," is a swirling piece for SSA choir and viola that employs at once the familiar (repetitive, calming ostinati) with the strange (extended techniques, clashing dissonance).

On September 16th, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (under the direction of conductor Dianne Berkun-Menaker), joined us in the Jerome L. Greene Space to perform for a live recording alongside Caroline Shaw herself on the viola. As part of an exclusive Meet the Composer Bonus Track, download "Its Motion Keeps" by Caroline Shaw.

Oct 14, 2014
Caroline Shaw Lives Life Beautifully

Caroline Shaw began her love affair with music at the age of two, when her mom started teaching her violin. Throughout her childhood, Caroline had a lesson every Wednesday afternoon, and sang and played in school and at music camps, falling for chamber music by Mozart and Clara Schumann. Caroline always made things; when she was bowled over by a Brahms sonata, she'd try and figure out how to construct her own sonatas. As a young adult, she continued on a rigorous, violin-centric path, earning both undergrad and masters degrees in violin performance from Rice University and the the Yale School of Music.

But after Yale, her life took a slight detour; Caroline had never stopped writing, and despite having never had a formal lesson in her life, Caroline was accepted to Princeton University's PhD program in composition. Just two years later, at age 30, she became youngest person ever to win the Pulitzer Prize in music. Tune in to find out how Caroline synthesizes old forms with new techniques to create her arresting, beautiful music.

Sep 30, 2014
Bonus Track: Excerpts from The Hunger by Donnacha Dennehy

In 1844, Asenath Nicholson, a school teacher, reformer and proprietor of an all-vegetarian boarding house in New York City, travelled to Ireland to "personally investigate the condition of the Irish poor." Upon her arrival, she saw the beginnings of the Great Famine, a seven-year period of mass starvation and disease in which it is estimated over one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland. Nicholson's writings and first-hand observations from the time are stitched together to form the narrative backdrop of The Hunger, a multi-media opera by Donnacha Dennehy.

Commissioned by Alarm Will Sound, The Hunger provides an overtly emotional and personal account of the devastation created by the famine. Interwoven into the live performance are vintage recordings of sean nós (old style) Irish folk tunes as well as video clips of economists and historians discussing the social-political causes and ramifications of the disaster.

As part of an exclusive Meet the Composer Bonus Track, download movements one, two and five of The Hunger, a work-in-progress that was performed at the Sheldon Hall in St. Louis by Alarm Will Sound and mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway. 

Sep 09, 2014
Donnacha Dennehy: Composing With Frequency

Donnacha Dennehy is an Irish composer who thought he was going to study with spectral icon Gérard Grisey in Paris. When he showed up, however, it was apparent that Grisey had accepted him into his study under the mistaken notion that he was not, in fact, a gentleman but a lady.

A bit put off by Grisey's visible disappointment with his gender, as well as the strikingly uninteresting uniformity in the style of his students work, Donnacha headed to Amsterdam, where he met Louis Andriessen, who changed his life. Donnacha's music fuses the old (sean-nós and other Irish styles) and the new (just intonation, pulse-based textures) to create something all his own. It's a music that is at once satisfying and supremely strange.

Aug 26, 2014
Andrew Norman: Better Living Through Architecture

Andrew Norman was a well-feted kid composer, a precocious pre-adolescent who wrote works with grand, filmic gestures for his middle school orchestra and had the local newspapers filling their style sections with profiles invoking Mozart. Then he went to college.

All of a sudden, Norman's musical world exponentially widened; he was exposed to styles and practices so far outside of his previous experience that he stopped composing altogether. How could he write what he had been writing in a world rich with Lachenmanns, Xenakises and Carters, who were manipulating, torquing and stifling sound to create a whole different world of music? Norman almost left music entirely for architecture, but in flirting with this other career, he actually found his way back to composition, ultimately birthing a style that stunningly weds texture and drama in a unique and wonderful way.

Jul 29, 2014
Bonus Track: The Wind in High Places by John Luther Adams

Gordon Wright, the Alaskan composer, conductor, professor and environmentalist, was John Luther Adams's best friend. When he died suddenly in 2007, Adams wrote three pieces for solo violin titled Three High Places, vignettes representing moments Adams and Wright shared while camping. These pieces eventually led Adams to write his first string quartet, at age 59, called The Wind in High Places. In a process that Adams likens to "primitive man discovers fire," he approached the traditional music form in a way that felt true to his compositional identity. The entire work is built on natural harmonics and open strings, allowing an airy, breathy timbre. 

John Luther Adams wrote his first string quartet at age 59 as vignettes representing moments he and Gordon Wright shared while camping, and likens his approach to the traditional music form as "primitive man discovers fire." Download The Wind in High Places as Meet the Composer's first Bonus Track with John Luther Adams.

The above audio is an exclusive live recording of this currently unavailable piece, performed recently in the Q2 Music Studios by the dynamic JACK Quartet. A studio recording of The Wind in High Places will come out in January 2015, again with JACK Quartet, on the label Cold Blue Music.

Jul 07, 2014
Bonus Track: Meet the Composer Launch Party and Concert

Q2 Music celebrated the launch of its inaugural podcast, Meet the Composer, on Tuesday, June 24 at 7 pm with a music party and live video webcast in The Greene Space at WQXR. 

Hosted by Nadia Sirota, the evening included interviews with all five members of Season One of Meet the Composer, including the two most recent Pulitzer Prize winners, John Luther Adams (2014) and Caroline Shaw (2013), as well as fellow innovators Andrew Norman, Marcos Balter, and Donnacha Dennehy.

The concert featured a star-studded array of dynamic, award-winning performers: flutist and International Contemporary Ensemble artistic director Claire Chase performs Balter's Pessoa; Hotel Elefant performs Adams's Red Arc/Blue Veil; Attacca String Quartet performs excerpts from Norman's Peculiar Strokes; Cellist Hannah Collins performs Shaw's in manus tuas; and Bang on a Can All-Star pianist Vicky Chow, cellist Ashley Bathgate and violinist Todd Reynolds perform Dennehy's Bulb.

Watch video of the entire show:

Q2 Music’s Meet the Composer pays homage to the landmark show of the same name hosted by Tim Page for WNYC in the mid to late '80s. Thanks to New Music USA for their flexibility with the use of the “Meet The Composer” name, which became famous though their legacy organization founded by composer John Duffy.

Jul 01, 2014
John Luther Adams: Bad Decisions and Finding Home

John Luther Adams made all of the wrong career decisions. He got kicked out of multiple high schools, went to the "wrong" college, never finished his master's degree, and ultimately moved as close as he could to the edge of society, to a cabin, in Alaska.

Somehow, though, all of these unconventional moves crystallized his creative voice into something singular, instantly recognizable, and emotionally mature. Adams's music is fast and slow at the same time, unraveling in fractal patterns that mimic great vast landscapes as well as tiny variations in the snow.

Jun 24, 2014