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PSNY Recent Recordings: Part I

New Music in America has been booming in recent years, with a new generation of young composers, ensembles, presenting organizations, and record labels contributing to a vibrant community with an increasingly large audience. Though streaming services have become ascendant, recordings and recording projects have come to hold an increasingly important role in new music: they serve as enduring documents of the hard work of composers and performers, letting the music travel beyond the score and the concert hall. 

Over the next few weeks, PSNY will feature the many recent recordings of compositions by our many talented composers, honoring the hard work and ingenuity of the many ensembles and record labels that contribute to the growing communtiy of new music, and indeed carry the music to new audiences across the globe. 

Our list begins with eighth blackbird's 2016 release, Hand Eye, which emerged from a stunning concert program of the same name. For Hand Eye, the multiple-Grammy™-award-winning ensemble paired up with the composer collective Sleeping Giant, which comprises of Ted Hearne, Timo Andres, Christopher Cerrone, Jacob Cooper, Robert Honstein, and Andrew Norman. That concert program, and the resulting album, features Andres' Checkered Shade, Norman's Mine, Mime, Meme, Cerrone's South Catalina, and Hearne's By-By Huey, among compositions by Honstein and Cooper. 

Writing in the American Record Guide, George Adams calls Hand Eye "a gorgeous, delicately constructed sonic mural." Check out eighth blackbird performing the program at Chicago's MCA:

Next, we'd like to feature an album by Ryan Muncy, the stellar saxophonist (who also performed Marcos Balter'sWicker Park on another 2016 record with the International Contemporary Ensemble). Muncy's second solo album, ism, was released on TUNDRA, ICE's in-house recording label, distributed by New Focus Recordings. Alongiside works by James Tenney and Lee Hyla, Muncy teams up with percussionist Ross Karre to perform Erin Gee's Mouthpiece XXIV, commissioned and premeired by Muncy and Karre in 2015. 

Next we'd like to feature two recordings released on New Amsterdam, both of which feature the work of Christopher Cerrone. Vicky Chow's A O R T A features Cerrone's Hoyt-Schemerhorn for solo piano and electronics, bringing her own voice to a piece that has enjoyed many performances since its 2009 premiere. The Living Earth Show's Dance Music features Cerrone's Double Happiness, a work for electric guitar and percussion that they commissioned and premeired in 2013. 

Finally, we'd like to feature an album we previously wrote about in 2016: Adrian Knight's  Obsessions, performed and recorded by R. Andrew Lee and released on Irritable Hedgehog. This long-form work for solo piano emerges from Knight's idiosyncratic and deeply personal musical language. As Knight remarked, "it's probably my most personal piece, because, like life, its trajectory wasn't predetermined. All I knew is that it would have to end." Obsessions resists mediation, and is best listened to completely. Head over to the album's Bandcamp page to take a listen. 

Katharina Rosenberger Featured in Berlin - Los Angeles, Witten Chamber Music Festival

In her own words, Katharina Rosenberger's family history ranges "from Berlin to Hamburg to Zurich and from East Prussia to the river banks of the Rio de la Plata in Uruguay"— an international heritage that has inspired the composer to participate in several international collaborations. Recently, Rosenberger has been featured by the sister cities of Berlin and Los Angeles, who celebrated their 50th anniversary as sister cities in 2017. Berlin - Los Angeles has interviewed Rosenberger about her collaborative, interactive VIVA VOCE project, which premiered in 2013 in Los Angeles' Human Resources gallery. Created with Berlin-based video artist Heiko Kalmbach, Rosenberger produced an interactice interface that celebrates experimental vocal performance art, with interviews, oral histories, and peformances by three esteemed vocalists in three separate cities: Juliana Snapper (Los Angeles), Shelley Hirsch (New York), and Pamela Z (San Francisco). Check out video from the premiere below: 

Across the Atlantic, Rosenberger's compositions have also recently been featured in the Wittner Tage für neue Kammermusik [Witten Days of New Chamber Music]. The festival featured the world premiere of her new work surge, for clarinet, cello, and piano, and also featured an installation of her video work, Quartet

Back in Los Angeles, on May 7th, Rosenberger will oversee the American premiere of SHIFT, conducted by Nicholas Deyoe and featuring trombonists Matt Barbier and Weston Olencki, along with students at the California Institute for the Arts, in a program that also features student compositions and György Ligeti's Violin Concerto. 

Joan La Barbara Performs "The Wanderlusting of Joseph C." at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Celebrated composer and vocalist Joan La Barbara has long worked at the nexus between artistic disciplines, collaborating with fellow composers, performers, and artists across a wide spectrum. In 2017, La Barbara premiered a new song cycle, "The Wanderlusting of Joseph C.", inspired by the filmmaker, sculptor, and visual artist Joseph Cornell. Working with novelist Monique Truong, La Barbara has created a song cycle for four singers, singing texts inspired by Cornell's neologism "wanderlusting", which turns the German compound word "Wanderlust"—the desire to travel—into an English gerund, a kind of nominal state that is always-already informed by action. 

On April 13thLa Barbara, accompanied by Lauren Flanigan and Mario Diaz-Moresco, performed three songs from The Wanderlusting of Joseph C., as well as "Windows" and "Habité par ses rêves et les phantasms"—the latter taking its title from a description of Cornell by the painter Dorothea Tanning—at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the galleries housing their exhibition, "Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell's Tribute to Juan Gris". This environmental performance puts La Barbara's work in immediate and visceral contact with Cornell's work, provoking connections between music, art, and text. The project was developed in association with American Opera Projects.

Writing in The New York Times, Seth Colter Walls celebrated La Barbara's performance, commenting on her longstanding role in "shap[ing] experimental sound in New York," and praising the unified breadth of La Barbara's style between the extended vocal techniques of "Windows" and the "wounded grandeur" evoked in "The Wanderlusting of Joseph C."   

La Barbara spoke about her long-standing interest in Cornell in 2014, in anticipation of a performance at Roulette. Check out the video below:  

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