john tavener

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HENRYK GORECKI, THE SORROWFUL SYMPHONY: Capturing the spirit of the age, and marketing

HENRYK GORECKI, THE SORROWFUL SYMPHONY: Capturing the spirit of the age, and marketing

When Billboard magazine – the bible of the international music industry – put classical music on its cover in September '92 with the heading “It’s Cool Again!” there was only one mention of Polish composer Henryk Gorecki in the 18-page insert supplement. And that reference was only to say that despite a stagnant...

THE KRONOS QUARTET COMES TO TOWN (1988): The Talking Heads of the classical world

THE KRONOS QUARTET COMES TO TOWN (1988): The Talking Heads of the classical world

When David Harrington hit the stage it was with a lot of style. Wearing a lurex T-shirt, leather pants and ankle boots, and a tight black jacket he looked every inch the lean and rangy musician blowing into town for a couple of concerts. Beside him was the group, also all in stylish black attire. And they were greeted with rapturous...

COMPOSER JOHN TAVENER INTERVIEWED (1993): Lifting the Veil

COMPOSER JOHN TAVENER INTERVIEWED (1993): Lifting the Veil

Late in 1992 in one of his increasingly rare interviews, British classical composer John Tavener uncharacteristically hit back at the critics who had been sniping at his most recent work, The Protecting Veil. After noting that critics want their intellects tickled but had forgotten about the intellect of the heart, he skewered them for their...

ROCK ME AMADEUS by SEB HUNTER: One man's journey into classical music, and out again

ROCK ME AMADEUS by SEB HUNTER: One man's journey into classical music, and out again

For those who have grown up within rock culture, author Hunter is the courageous advance guard into the world of classical music. A self-confessed addict of popular music who buys rock magazines such as Mojo, Uncut, and Record Collector (and NME although he hides that inside the Guardian so people don’t think he’s a paedophile), the...

THE CHANGING CULTURE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC: Real world murder in the house

THE CHANGING CULTURE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC: Real world murder in the house

When the recording of Robert Moran’s new opera was released in '94 there was an almost predictable ripple of controversy in the more staid sections of the classical world. And not because this dark, disconcerting piece offered no conventional narrative structure, that one of the performers was proto-punk Iggy Pop (who spoke his part...

Kronos Quartet: Floodplain (Nonesuch/Warners)

Kronos Quartet: Floodplain (Nonesuch/Warners)

For more than 30 years the Kronos Quartet have been innovators, rarely looking back or playing pieces more than a few times, always on the lookout for contemporary material and daring projects. They have recorded with John Zorn and Allen Ginsberg, played material by Jimi Hendrix, Terry Riley, the remarkable Inuit singer Tagaq,...

Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi (1983)

Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi (1983)

There are few things more depressing than observing a revolution become a style (or the Beatles’ Revolution become a Nike ad). Or to witness innovation morph into cliché. When director Godfrey Reggio’s innovative film Koyaanisqatsi appeared in the early Eighties it had an immediate impact on popular music and film culture....

GLASS, A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS, a documentary by SCOTT HICKS (Madman DVD)

GLASS, A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS, a documentary by SCOTT HICKS (Madman DVD)

In his insightful, provocative and usefully gossipy book The Rest is Noise (2007), the writer and critic Alex Ross took a free-wheeling survey of 20th century classical music and addressed why the damn stuff had become so difficult for "modern" audiences. As with jazz -- which lost its populist mandate when free form arrived and...

MICHAEL NYMAN INTERVIEWED (1993): Play us a film, piano man

MICHAEL NYMAN INTERVIEWED (1993): Play us a film, piano man

For director Jane Campion to have as noted a composer as Michael Nyman to score the soundtrack for her film The Piano was as simple as a phone call. From his home in Toulouse, Nyman -- whose extensive career is best known for his soundtracks to Peter Greenaway films – acknowledges that he knew Campion’s previous films...

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA: The sound of angel wings

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA: The sound of angel wings

The story is such an improbable cliché it can only be true: one night in the late 70s while driving between Stuttgart and Zurich, the famous jazz producer Manfred Eicher heard music on the radio so entrancing he had to pull over to listen more closely. Eicher – founder of the ECM label which has a reputation for music of often...

Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

Curiously, it has only been in recent years that the British music press "discovered" Arthur Russell. But maybe not so curious: Russell died of Aids-related illnesses in '92 and although he left behind literally many hundreds of reels of recordings (everything from disco through experimental pop to Russell singing with just his cello...

JOHN PSATHAS INTERVIEWED (2000): Rattle of a complex man

JOHN PSATHAS INTERVIEWED (2000): Rattle of a complex man

After John Psathas won best classical album of 1999 at the New Zealand Music Awards in March, nothing happened. No arts writers called wanting to profile this prolific composer, sales of the album Rhythm Spike on the independent Rattle label didn't jump, and no critics decided to belatedly acknowledge this exceptional album which, on...

JOHN PSATHAS, 21st CENTURY MAN: The helix of creativity

JOHN PSATHAS, 21st CENTURY MAN: The helix of creativity

It seems entirely fitting that the final piece on New Zealand composer John Psathas' new album Helix should be dedicated to Jack Body, a composer like Psathas who has always looked outward as much as inward for his inspiration. Body has found source material in Indonesia and in his tribute Waiting:Still, Psathas pairs the spare piano figures...

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

Yet another fine addition to the Rattle Jazz imprint, this beautifully packaged album by Canadian-born, New Zealand-based trumpeter Lisik (and others) explores that profitable margin between chamber jazz and classical music. And in that he has unimpeachable assistance; Amy Rempel is on piano and her improvisations are at the heart here, bass...

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAMOUS COMPOSERS (Time Life/Shock DVD)

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAMOUS COMPOSERS (Time Life/Shock DVD)

Myth making and hype attached itself to Beethoven at an early age. When he was eight his father -- a boozer -- presented him at a recital as being just six in order to pass him off as a child prodigy like Mozart. Not that Ludwig needed much help in the prodigy stakes. And although he was a genius, it wasn't without a struggle and...

HAIL BOP! A PORTRAIT OF JOHN ADAMS, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint DVD)

HAIL BOP! A PORTRAIT OF JOHN ADAMS, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint DVD)

Early in this insightful 100 minute portrait of the American composer John Adams by Tony Palmer, Adams cites Milton Babbitt's article Who Cares If You Listen? and being struck by the cavalier attitude of many composers who knew they had no audience and had created a mindset which "basically said 'Screw you'." "I remember...

Dave Lisik and Richard Nunns: Ancient Astronaut Theory (Rattle)

Dave Lisik and Richard Nunns: Ancient Astronaut Theory (Rattle)

Recently it was my great privilege to be asked to write some liner notes for this album on the estimable Rattle label. It is a very special album as you may hear. So rather than relitigate those ideas why don't I simply reproduce the notes here and you can make what you will of it? This is what I wrote . . . We live in a world...

DAVE LISIK INTERVIEWED (2011): Ancient, contemporary and to the future

DAVE LISIK INTERVIEWED (2011): Ancient, contemporary and to the future

Even a cursory glance at the website for Canadian-born, American-educated and Wellington-resident composer/musician Dave Lisik is impressive for his work ethic. Aside from noting him being a teacher, trumpeter and theorist, his website lists eight albums under his own name since 2007 and another five where he was producer/director of...

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