WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Jason Gargano 03.21.2014
Posted In: Live Music, Music News, Interview, Festivals at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Louis Langrée Talks MusicNOW

CSO's new music director talks collaboration with nine-year-old MusicNOW fest

Louis Langrée is well aware of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's rich history. The CSO's freshly minted music director also knows part of that history includes the nurturing of contemporary composers and their often unconventional works.  Enter MusicNOW, Bryce Dessner's 9-year-old festival of adventurous sounds. (Read our conversation with Dessner here.) This year's sonic extravaganza includes the CSO's take on new pieces by such esteemed composers as Nico Muhly and David Lang, as well as the title work from Dessner's new Classical album, St. Carolyn by the Sea. CityBeat recently connected with the genial Langrée — who spoke in self-described "primitive" English by phone from Paris — to discuss the CSO's collaboration with MusicNOW.    CityBeat: Before we get into MusicNOW, I'm curious about your initial impressions of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Why were you interested in coming on as music director? Louis Langrée: The fame the orchestra is really big. Everybody knows it's a major orchestra. But then making music with them was a completely different experience because, yes, they have the qualities of all major American orchestras — precision, clarity of the attack of the situation. But they have also from their heritage, in their DNA, this German conception of sound, that you build the sound from the base of the harmony. That means the density of the sound is something absolutely remarkable, and that's rare in the United States. I think it has to do with the tradition, the roots, of this orchestra and also, of course, about the quality and the spirit of the musicians, which is really wonderful.  CB: Why were you interested in collaborating with MusicNOW and taking on a festival of contemporary music? LL: One of the strengths of the orchestra is to have supported and commissioned and performed contemporary music from their very early age. Having given the American premiere Mahler Third, Mahler Fifth, Stravinsky coming to Cincinnati before he was considered a giant, having premiered (Aaron Copland's ) "Lincoln Portrait," having commissioned (Copland's) "Fanfare for a Common Man" and many other pieces and many more recent pieces. That's why I wanted to open my tenure as music director with eighth blackbird and Jennifer Higdon concerto piece. It shows that we should support, play, commission and perform contemporary music — and, of course, contemporary American music.  CB: What was it like collaborating with Bryce? LL: Meeting Bryce was a wonderful. His French is perfect. Especially compared to my primitive English. (Laughs). I like his attitude in making music and experimentation. And any strong institution should be also a place of experimentation. Music is not something you put in a museum. It's alive. And then we should perform contemporary music like Classical music and perform Beethoven music, not forgetting that he only composed contemporary music. All the composers — Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bartok — composed contemporary music, so we have to continue it. He's very focused and concentrated, but on the other hand the spectrum was quite bright. I think we have arrived on wonderful programs — very challenging, but very exciting.  CB: What makes him unique as a composer? LL: He knows how to make an orchestra sound. It's a very clear and precise writing but at the same time there is so much flexibility in the variations of colors written and the flow of the music. It's always quite exciting to study a piece and hear it. Having the privilege of working with the composer is something wonderful because there are so many questions I would like to ask of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, and of course it's impossible. So being able to ask the composer and to hear his answers is just wonderful.  Bryce is someone who has great harmonic taste, and I think for the orchestra it's wonderful because you can express yourself much easier. I think he's very much like his music — a very welcoming man, a very open, very luminous person. I see that in his music, which is not always the case with composers. With him, I get the feeling he's one with his music.  CB: How has the orchestra responded to playing these new, sometimes challenging pieces? LL: Any new piece you don't know what to expect. What I've found is that these musicians are very open-minded, they are very generous and positive in their attitude and are eager to try any new experience. It's a privilege to perform these two concerts of new music, but it's also very challenging, so you have to be very practical.  CB: And what's the experience been like for you? LL: It's a great responsibility when you conduct a piece, but it's also a great privilege that today's major American composers are willing to write for us. To be sharing this experiment and experience in concert, to be a part of MusicNOW, is really something beautiful. MusicNOW's 2014 festival begins tonight and continues tomorrow. Visit musicnowfestival.org for tickets and full programming details.
 
 

Peach Kelli Pop with Bummer’s Eve and Black Planet

Wednesday • The Comet

0 Comments · Monday, March 17, 2014
Getting her start playing drums with Canadian Garage Pop trio The White Wires, Allie Hanlon began Peach Kelli Pop as a solo outlet for her own songwriting. Peach Kelli Pop (Hanlon does all of the recording and friends join her on the road) is modeled after some of the classics of vintage Pop music.   

von Grey with Ron Pope and Andrea Nardello

Thursday • Southgate House Revival

0 Comments · Monday, March 17, 2014
Last year was a momentous one for Indie/Alt Folk quartet von Grey, with a relentless road schedule, television appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan and triumphant debuts at South By Southwest and Bonnaroo.   

Houndmouth with Rayland Baxter

Friday • Southgate House Revival

1 Comment · Monday, March 17, 2014
On Houndmouth’s full-length debut, 2013’s From the Hills Below the City, you can tell the quartet is smitten with the majestic charm of Americana masters The Band. “Penitentiary,” the calling-card tune that triggered Internet buzz and eventually drew the interest of famed indie label Rough Trade, could be mistaken for a Music from Big Pink bonus track.  

Grouplove

Thursday • Bogart’s

0 Comments · Monday, March 17, 2014
The story of Grouplove is like something straight out of the ’60s. The band members met at an artist commune on the Greek island of Crete. All struggling to pay their bills with their various forms of art, they each stumbled upon the right people at the right time. Eventually they found themselves living in a basement in Crete, able to focus on art instead of working to pay rent.   

Blind Boys of Alabama

Friday • Greaves Hall (Northern Kentucky University)

0 Comments · Monday, March 17, 2014
The legendary five-time Grammy winners Blind Boys of Alabama have steadily brought inspired grooves to the stage since the group’s beginnings in the 1930s. Greater Cincinnati has witnessed some special shows by the group, especially their gig at the2006  Tall Stacks Festival, when lead singer Jimmy Carter was led into the  crowd with a mic where he proceeded to lift up the audience with goodness and light and soul.  

Vic and Gab

Monday • MOTR Pub

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Vic and Gab’s first full-length, last year’s Love of Mine, is even more assured, the sound of a band coming into its own. Album opener “Love of Mine” sets the tone, a dreamily atmospheric Pop tune that’s almost impossible to eradicate once it enters your ears.  

Dex Romweber Duo with Grotesque Brooms

Thursday • MOTR Pub

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Dex Romweber Duo's Images 13 drops next month, and it’s an amalgam of everything that has erupted from Romweber’s fevered creative genius from the start — twisted ’50s Rockabilly and romantic Pop, high-octane ’60s Surf, raw, electric Blues and even strains of Jazz and Exotica.  

The Tossers with Continental and Mill Creek Revelry

Thursday • Southgate House Revival

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
There are dozens of thriving “Celtic Punk” bands, but the Holy Drunken Trinity is clearly the triad of Boston’s Dropkick Murphys, Los Angeles’ Flogging Molly and Chicago's The Tossers. Of that trio, The Tossers are both the longest tenured and the least well known, and yet the sextet has amassed a slavishly loyal following and maintained a constant studio/stage presence over the past 21 years.  

Chris Knight with Ben Knight & the Well Diggers

Friday • Taft Theatre (Ballroom)

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Chris Knight is a singer/songwriter who goes against the grain when it comes to what passes for talent in Nashville these days. A songsmith on par with the Darrell Scotts and Jeff Blacks of the world, Knight has little use for mainstream Country music dreck or stereotypical Americana fare.   

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