May Day! May Day!

Julia Tai and friends before performing Tehillim

Technological problems are preventing me from posting from inside Town Hall so I’ve stollen away to the cafe in the lobby for a quick post.

We are now more than three hours into the festival and we just heard two sections from Steve Reich’s Tehillim by Julia Tai and friends. Tai and her friends will be doing the entire piece later this spring in Magnolia. Look for more information here and elsewhere. It is well worth seeking out.

My two hour emcee block was…well…interesting. It was hard being first and it was hard to draw energy from a crowd that was still coming together. A short piece by the Affinity Chamber Players put everything ahead of schedule by a little bit.

Emceeing aside, the first two hours of music covered the range of new music activity. Michael Nicolella played Bobby J, a piece by Laurence Crane, which was more minimalist than even I was expecting. Yet, Crane leaves you wanting more. On the electric guitar Crane’s music nearly hypnotized the audience. More than one person shot to attention when the piece finished.

The Odeonquartet’s premiere of Candy Cigarettes by Nathanial Evans was probably my favorite piece of those first two hours. For the piece, Evans drew inspiration from a playground encounter with the school bully, candy cigarettes, and the arrival of spring. I look forward to hearing more by this local composer.

Christina Valdes ended the set with two pieces by Fredric Rzewski. I described Rzewski’s music as inherently political. I don’t think I was too far off. But A Life, written in memory of John Cage, underscores a different theme of the day — calls for help in a time of distress.

There is still a lot of music left, and if you get the chance you should head on down to Town Hall and hear some of the festival.

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