Thoughts on Music and Concerts

Let's use this part of the Cultural Production Wiki to share our reflections on works of music (recorded or live) as well as concerts and recitals we've heard.

Comment on the Intercultural Residency Series at Brandeis University

Politics and Pop Music
Lyrics and brief analysis of songs that address the contemporary political scene, particularly regarding the wars America has recently been involved in.

Upcoming Concerts
Harvard Wind Ensemble
Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 at 8:00 pm
Lowell Lecture Hall at Harvard University
Kirkland and Oxford Streets, Cambridge, MA

Performance, Space, Sound, Subjectivity

Casey Golomski
Brandeis University

Tonight I was called on to play principal horn for the Harvard Wind Ensemble's concert dedicated to the recently passed American post-classic composer Henry Brant (1913-2008). Throughout his award-winning career as composer and educator, Brant played with the concept of space in performance. Soloists and clusters of players or instrument-types are differentially positioned within the performative space.

The concert tonight will feature two unrecorded pieces: 60/70 (1974/1983) and American Debate, an Antiphonal Overture (1976). Both pieces position two distinct groups of instruments in different spatial positions within the hall. One plays from the rear balcony, within the fourth-dimension and realm of the audience, and the other on the stage, although arranged so as not to face the audience, redirecting sound and visibility of performers' actions for the audience.

In 60/70 the groups are playing simultaneously and American Debate they are orchestrated in unison, only to break away mid-piece, the spatially ascendant group echoing and countering themes projected from the stage. The result are sounds produced and deployed that resonate (with) and are perceived by audience members differently depending on their place within the concert hall. The musical sign(s) perceived may be dis/harmonious.

Performances of spatial music call into question the classical notions of audience-performer orientations, an extension of basic self-other relations which are modified, de-centered, and potentially reconfigured within the ritual space of the concert hall. Not only are audience-performers' self-other relationships called into question, but so are those between performers. Many of Brant's compositions are orchestrated for diverse types and quantities of instruments. Brant's piece entitled Orbits (1979) is scored for high soprano, organ, and 80 trombones, the 80 trombones each playing independent parts (i.e. they are not in unison nor scored together). For the audience, the ritual-musical text may be a parataxis, "the pure and simple juxtaposition of elements" (Barthes 1988:187). whereas for the performers, each embody different agent and subject positions in the very immediacies of the performance. However, the performers are still quasi-circumscribed in that the piece of music has definitive beginning and end. Does this challenge or reify Victor and Edith Turner's writings on that communitas often instantiated between ritual participants?

Henry Brant,
“It has never seemed to me that life is a simple matter, and I have always felt that music can reflect everyday existence, with its many complicated events both internal and external. A mundane episode in everyday life is not a one-dimensional event. People pass one another unaware of each other’s needs and fears. For me, spatial amalgams of highly contrasted musical events, freely associated yet controlled, present opportunities for representing in the concert hall, musical equivalents of the incessant bombardment of social and environmental catastrophes which bedevil daily existence.”
Roland Barthes 1988 The Semiotic Challenge. NY: Hill and Wang.
Victor Turner 1969 The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. NY: Aldine.

THE DUDLEY ORCHESTRA (Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Drew Schroeder, music director presents
KORNGOLD - Selections from The Sea Hawk
BAX - November Woods
KORNGOLD - Pierrots Tanzlied from Die tote Stadt (with Sidney Outlaw, baritone)
SIBELIUS - Symphony No. 7

Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Jean Sibelius died two months apart, in the fall of 1957.
Fifty years later, the Dudley Orchestra will celebrate both composers. We'll play
excerpts from one of Korngold's groundbreaking film scores (The Sea Hawk, starring Errol
Flynn), as well as a stunningly gorgeous aria from the opera that cemented his reputation
as Europe's greatest wunderkind since Mozart. The Seventh Symphony, written in a single,
continuous movement, was one of Sibelius's final works, and is arguably his masterpiece.
Rounding out the program will be November Woods, an eerie tone poem by the underrated
English composer Arnold Bax, a contemporary of Korngold and Sibelius.

Sunday, November 18th at 7:30pm
Paine Hall at Harvard University

Tickets: $7 (general public), $5 (student, senior, Harvard ID)
available at the Harvard Box Office or at the door

For more information, visit:

American soprano Sarah Nicholas Price makes her debut with the Lowell House Opera Orchestra in a concert of some of the most thrilling dramatic arias by Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. Winner of the Bella Voce Award from the Bel Canto Foundation’s 2006 Competition, Sarah Nicholas Price is rapidly gaining recognition as a powerful lyrical interpreter of Italian opera. Invited to sing at the Third Practice New Music Festival in Richmond, Virginia, and at Michigan’s Art Fair Song Fest, she has also performed in numerous recitals in France, Italy, Austria, and Germany, in addition to performances near her home in Illinois.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Overture to Rienzi
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
“Signore, ascolta!” from Turandot
“In quelle trine morbide” from Manon Lescaut
La tregenda (Witches’ Dance) from Le villi
“Donde lieta uscì” from La bohème
“Vissi d’arte” from Tosca
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Overture to Luisa Miller
“Ernani, involami” from Ernani
Prelude to Act I of La traviata
“Tacea la notte placida” from Il trovatore
The Lowell House Opera Orchestra
Channing Yu, conductor
Saturday, 10 November 2007, Lowell House Dining Hall
Harvard University, 10 Holyoke Place, Cambridge, MA 02138

Cultural Production (CP201) student Casey Golomski will be playing horn in these two exciting and moving productions. Anyone interested in tickets in advance please email (