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September 2015

August 2015

Coffee Conversations: Composer Eric Lemmon

by Nick Stubblefield4416184836_a01574fd11_b

NYC-based musician Eric Lemmon has been burning it up of late. His compositions, noted for their broad range of extended techniques and complex rhythms, have been performed at venues like (le) Poisson Rouge and the FIGMENT arts festival on Governor's Island. As a violist, he's joined the likes of The Manhattan Camerata, The Chelsea Symphony, and the Highline Chamber Ensemble (for which he's arranged, as well). 

On September 8th, Lemmon's "The Impossible Will Take a Little While" will be premiered by the Highline Chamber Ensemble at the DiMenna Center at 7:30pm.  Written for chamber orchestra and four voices, the piece is set to texts by Maya Angelou, W.H. Auden, Seamus Heaney, and others.

Recently, I was able to sit down with Eric and talk about his new work, as well as his life as a musician. Below are some excerpts from our discussion.

On Inspiration: "The Impossible Will Take a Little While" is based on a compilation of essays and poems of the same name.  The book is about how large systemic change in society doesn't occur through giant heroic moments, like MLK on the Mall, or the Berlin Wall falling, but rather the small actions of lots of regular people working hard for a long time. They culminate in those giant moments. 

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"Yuck" and "U.S Girls" at Hudson RiverRocks

Hudson River RiverRocksConsidering how beautiful the surroundings were, the organization of Hudson RiverRocks at Pier 84 on the Hudson River was a bit disappointing. But that's for another time. The music--which is why the crowd took advantage of this free event in the first place--was pretty good. 

Yuck, a quartet hailing from London, was the first to take stage, though better name for them might be, "Too Cool For School." They remained mostly immobile throughout their short set, and the audience mimicked their stoicism. Though, what the audience lacked in movement they made up for in screaming their song suggestions. 

Yuck did eventually warm up, and the occasional floppy dancer made himself known. Lead singer Mariko Doi wore her sunglasses at night, and a fannypack stuck out from her back pinned with silver studs. The rest of the band consisted of three skinny people playing gritty guitars and a happy drummer in the back, Jonny Rogoff, who looked a bit like Seth Rogan. 

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Harry Partch's Delusions of the Fury at Lincoln Center Festival


by Robert Leeper

Harry Parch's Delusion of the Fury, Lincoln Center Festival, 7/23/15
Maverick American composer Harry Partch is revered in modern musical circles, but due to the difficulty of presenting his mammoth works on the unique instruments he created, his music is rarely experienced. In 2010, German instrument builder Thomas Meixner decided to spend three years replicating the sole remaining set of Partch's original instruments for the Cologne-based Ensemble Musikfabrik, of which he is a member. 

Last week, Ensemble Musikfabrik brought their Partch instrumentarium to New York City Center, where the Lincoln Center Festival presented Partch's 1964 theater work Delusion of the Fury. It is impossible to separate the unique sound of Partch's music from the beautiful instruments on which it's made. They seem to be performers in their own right, keyed to a 43-tone scale of Partch's own creation. Most visibly striking were the elegant Cloud-Chamber Bowls, painted with the numerical value of their precise resonance. The most visceral sound came from the Marimba Eroica: its notes reverberated throughout the hall at such low frequencies that they were felt as much a heard.

Partch also wrote the libretto, choreographed dances, and made costumes for Delusion, but while everything had to be done his way, his music was neither overly esoteric, nor inaccessible. Indeed: Delusion is a primarily tonal work with a regular, driving rhythm.

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