Video Premiere: Alarm Will Sound performs Escape Wisconsin (Alarm Remix)

Alarm Will Sound, a cutting-edge contemporary music ensemble, emits a jolt of energy in their performance of composer and string player Caleb Burhans’ Escape Wisconsin (Alarm Remix). The piece, whose title is a play on the “Escape to Wisconsin” bumper sticker, is a feverish exploration of fiery emotion. Melodies stack on top of each other with pulsating vigor, creating an urgency that flows all the … Continue reading Video Premiere: Alarm Will Sound performs Escape Wisconsin (Alarm Remix)

Album Review: Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, and JACK Quartet, Songs That Are Hard To Sing

For composer, fiddler, and instrument builder Dan Trueman, tradition and innovation in music-making often coexist. He’s recently worked on projects that explore their meeting place, like bitKlavier, a digital prepared piano, and Olagón – A Cantata In Doublespeak, which amalgamates Irish folk tales, pop, contemporary classical, and fiddling. With his 2019 album, Songs That Are Hard to Sing, he continues in this vein, mixing inspiration … Continue reading Album Review: Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, and JACK Quartet, Songs That Are Hard To Sing

Album Review: PRISM Quartet, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Bold chords blare underneath agitated glissandos that jump and fall in organized chaos. “Jackass,” the first movement of Steven Mackey’s “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral,” erupts from PRISM Quartet — a saxophone chamber ensemble — with fervor. Mackey, a Grammy award-winning composer and electric guitarist, originally wrote the piece in 2004, but the Quartet’s recording here provides a crisp, fresh perspective with their brash performance.  “Animal, Vegetable, … Continue reading Album Review: PRISM Quartet, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

Kelly Moran at Roulette: The Power of Music

A swath of neon pink light washed over the audience who slowly bopped their heads as the bass smoothly dropped and the image on the screen morphed from blues to reds to rainbows to black. They were entranced by an artistic landscape, captivated by the sort of heightened sense that is aroused when experiencing a total immersion in sound and visual art. The evening ended … Continue reading Kelly Moran at Roulette: The Power of Music

Happy Birthday, Arnold Schoenberg!

It’s a sweltering summer day in the mid-2000s. Middle school music geeks flock to the library for their midday music theory lesson at chamber music camp. There’s a kid who knows what retrograde is already while the others are fighting over what second inversion means. The teacher makes a sly remark, this isn’t the music theory of Arnold Schoenberg, we’re learning harmony. The class laughs … Continue reading Happy Birthday, Arnold Schoenberg!

Discomfort and the Art of Deep Listening

Discomfort often arises from new ideas, new sensations, different cultures. In music, we’ve heard this story over and over again — the now infamous Rite of Spring riot, distaste for the sonic expansion of free jazz, or even when Kid A upset the paradigm of “rock and roll.” Experimentalism is always going to polarize an audience, because it challenges what we believe to be right … Continue reading Discomfort and the Art of Deep Listening