If you're familiar with composer Christopher Tin, it may be because he made history as the first composer to win a Grammy Award for music written for a video game.
"The song that I wrote a Grammy for is called Baba Yetu, and it's actually a choral setting of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili. And it was originally written for the video game Civilization IV which is a very legendary franchise in the gaming world. In 2009, I rerecorded the song and released it on my debut album, Calling All Dawns. So six years after the song was brought to the world - in this form of a video game theme - is when it was finally honored as as a Grammy winning song."
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was featured on that Grammy-winning song, and they're collaborating with Christopher once again on his latest solo recording, To Shiver the Sky. It's a grand production featuring three choir and two opera stars: soprano Danielle de Niese and tenor Pene Pati.
"I had an idea early on that I wanted to do an oratorio based on the history of mankind's quest to fly. The history of aviation, from Da Vinci's notebooks and the legend of Daedalus and Icarus all the way through John F. Kennedy declaring that we would be putting a man on the moon by the decade's end. And this started because, once again, I had written a theme song for a video game. In this case, it was Civilization VI. And that song became a bit of a hit.
And so I took that song, repackaged it, rerecorded it, wrote 10 other movements around it, and found a way to basically tell the story of aviation through the words of those who actually helped propel it forward.
The piece that was the origin for this oratorio was called Sogno di Volare and it was from the video game Civilization VI and it's the first track on the new oratorio. And it's also the main theme in that it's a recurring musical motif that comes back again and again across the course of the album. Anytime humanity suffers defeat or failure or setbacks, the dream of flight theme comes back and summons us back to that cockpit, back on our feet to to try to push forward to achieve our dream of flying."
One of the pieces that really caught my ear was Astronomy. It starts quietly, in polish with words by Capernicus. It's also kind of comforting, too.
"It was in this sort of spirit of comfort, of beholding the beauty of the cosmos and sort of reveling in it, that I thought, I want this particular piece to sound. I want it to sound peaceful and calm and tranquil, but give you the impression that you are gazing at the stars and the splendor of the universe.
If you were actually to look at the sheet music, I have actually drawn in - using notes played by the orchestra - the various constellations that relate to flight. So, Phoenix, Draco the dragon, Cygnus, the Swan... If you were to draw lines between the note heads on the conductor score, and we actually even created a little video that's on my YouTube channel to show just where these constellations just sort of magically appear in the music.
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During a concert of his works last year at the Miller Theater in New York, the composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey, who has little patience with distinctions between genres and styles, described his artistic goal as working toward a model of "music that perpetuates itself." A new Sorey piece for violin and orchestra, "For Marcos Balter," receives its premiere during a 45-minute livestream from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, featuring the brilliant violinist Jennifer Koh and the conductor Xian Zhang. Florence Price's "Five Folksongs in Counterpoint," arrangements of spirituals for string quartet, opens the program.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.; dso.org; available through Nov. 22.
"Nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine." ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
The human hand: its fingers, bones, muscles, and more give us the ability to add a pinch of salt, play any number of musical instruments, change a tire, flip a pancake, and so much else. That our hands have the capacity to perform these movements repeatedly and without thinking about them is due to muscle or motor memory.
But suppose a hand were transplanted from another body. Could it-would it-retain unthinking memories created with that original body? If you were to ask Hollywood, the answer is a very blood-curdling scream of "YES!" As Halloween approaches, let's look at a few horror films in which pianists, or at least the hands they are attached to, are the stars.
The relationship between science fact and science fiction has always been something of a bridge, with inspiration flowing in both directions. Whether it's Leonardo da Vinci's revolutionary plans for flying machines and concentrated solar power, Jules Verne's Extraordinary Voyages series, or Star Trek's hands-free, voice-activated communicators and phasers, it's our imagination that keeps us in fear or helps us conquer it. Just as the unimaginable becomes the near-at-hand, so too do we brush aside the veils of superstition and fear. "Through the hand, human culture waves away animal nature," reflects Raymond Tallis in The hand: a philosophical inquiry into human being. Well, mostly. The ancient and universal nightmares still persist today, even, and perhaps especially, when we should know better.
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The joyful duo Shunia (Lisa Love and Suzanne Jackson) is back to infuse a bit of sanity and peace to our turbulent times with their new single "Sa Re Sa Sa"– a song based on the popular mantra
"Sa Re Sa Sa, Sa Re Sa Sa, Sa Re Sa Sa, Sa Rung
Har Re Har Har, Har Re Har Har, Har Re Har Har, Har Rung"
and if you watched the video, it will simply rub off on you–the chemistry, the colors, the vibrancy that they all have brought together make you forget the dark and uncertain period of the past few months.
I remember their last single "Akal," and whenever I hear it, I get goosebumps. It feels like the duo is on a crusade to drive out the negativity, the gloom, and the directionlessness that the world is engulfed with, and what could be more powerful than to do it with the power of sound–a sound replete with the power of mantras, variety of instrumentation, vocals, and vistas of hope and joy! It is a complete package!
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DECADES AGO at a Carmel Bach Festival solo violin recital the young man sitting next to me struck up a conversation. When he told me he had come from Fresno I asked him if it was to escape the summer heat there. "No," he said, "I wanted to hear how a fugue can be played on a solo violin." Good answer, I thought.
The fugue in question is the second movement from JS Bach's Sonata in A minor, the very work that opens this new Delos recital by the extraordinary Greek guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou. She uses Bach's own transcription for harpsichord of the sonata, to D minor, and plays it on a "high-tuned pedal guitar in scalloped frets of the Kertsopoulos Aesthetics.*"
For the rest of her program, titled "A Healing Fire," she uses a classical pedal guitar of the same aesthetics, a technical platform that expands the timbral colorations available to the performer. In her opening remarks, Gregoriadou writes, "The compositions in this collection offer encouragement and hope against today's dystopia and chaos; they explore spirituality, self-knowledge and transcendence, illuminating dark and ambiguous regions of the human psyche with a different kind of light, a different sort of fire. They are conduits for catharsis, an escape from conflicts, antinomy and traumas this world torments us with.
From Bach's ecstatic Credo to Gubaidulina's submersion into the most transparent awareness prayer can bring; and from Hétu's suspended scream to Britten's self-absorbing surrender to Sleep and Nothingness, these towering masterpieces are, above all, essays on the mystical, reflections of the sacred!" Britten wrote his circumspect Nocturnal after John Dowland for the late Julian Bream; its eight variations, ending in a large passacaglia are based on "Come, heavy Sleep, the image of true Death, and close up these my weary weeping eyes" from Dowland's First Book of Songs (1597), cast as a journey through the night, often meditative and tranquil, sometimes restless or agitated. Sofia Gubaidulina, a Shostakovich protégée who turned 89 on Saturday, is a woefully underrepresented yet hugely prolific Tatarstani composer of deep spiritual affect and a cheeky sense of humor, witness her The Unasked Answer for three orchestras, an obvious play on Ives' The Unanswered Question. Her Serenade for guitar, at just three minutes, doesn't really rectify her status in the West. Jacques Hétu's five-movement Suite for guitar of 1986 makes plain his French aesthetic. Why Gregoriadou calls it a ‘suspended scream' I cannot explain; Hétu (1938-2010) is a self-described melodist with a keen grasp of musical form, harmonic relationships and the guitar itself. Sure there are rigorous challenges for both the guitarist and the listener but ultimately a satisfying adventure. SM
Based on the events from the past two weeks, the word "midterm" likely provokes flashbacks of absent guidance from professors and feelings of dread while opening LockDown Browser. Hopefully, most of us have survived by now. The end of October is arguably one of the best times of the year; a time when orange, black, purple, and green seem to be the only appropriate colors and ghosts and jack o'lanterns thrive on front porches. Although there's nothing scarier than taking exams during an online semester, spookiness has only just arrived. For this week's column, I thought it'd be best to share some Hollywood-inspired sinister tunes, leaving midterms as a repressed memory and embracing the spirit of Halloween, which happens to be right around the corner.
In contrast to my love for "Psycho," I think one of my biggest regrets in life is seeing "Hereditary." The fact that sleep, an activity I was quite fond of prior to watching the film, had become impossible during the full week it took me to recover only serves as a testament to Ari Aster's talent at scaring audiences out of their wits. There are many aspects of the movie that contribute to its spine-chilling abilities, but it'd be fair to give its score some credit. "Reborn" is probably the most well-known piece from the score, partly due to its loud use at the end and its popularity as a sound on TikTok. The best (or worst) part about it is its unnatural celebratory undertone, which makes sense in the context of the scene. On the other hand, objectively hearing it makes me want to rip off my toes. Despite my love-hate relationship with the film, I can't help but admit the music is a premier feature. While watching "Hereditary" on Halloween night is quite the opposite of what I endorse, I can condone listening to "Reborn."
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This Friday - October 30 at 9 pm ET, SiriusXM's Symphony Hall Channel will feature; 'Scary Soundtracks with Michael Shapiro, a 1hr special highlighting the Overture to the the 1931 film 'Frankenstein.' With an incredible legacy, and selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, the movie was first released, unfortunately, with no original soundtrack. That all changed in 2001, when composer Michael Shapiro was commissioned to write one. Join SiriusXM: Symphony Hall for a special Halloween "Classics On Film" when Michael joins host Vincent Caruso to speak about his own creation! You'll hear some of Michael's "Frankenstein" soundtrack as well as to hear some of Michael's picks for scariest film music!
WaterTower Music is pleased to announce today's release of the 62-track Lovecraft Country (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series), featuring music from the first season of Lovecraft Country, which airs on HBO/ HBO Max, and is Based on Matt Ruff 's novel of the same name.
Inspired by the ground-breaking mission of NASA's Juno space probe and its ongoing exploration of Jupiter, Juno to Jupiter is a multi-dimensional musical journey through electronic, progressive, ambient, techno, orchestral, and vocal music.
Milan Records today announces the release of Luca Guadagnino's WE ARE WHO WE ARE (ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) featuring music by producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist DEVONTÉ HYNES.
The partnership between Shabaka Hutchings and South African musicians has produced an imaginative second album / The New York Times
Posted: March 12, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Shabaka and the Ancestors Are Making Their Own Jazz History. The partnership between the British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and a group of South African musicians has produced an imaginative second album. If jazz is looking to reinvent itself - or catch its breath and take stock of how much it already has in the past 10 years or so - the music of Shabaka and the Ancestors might be a good place to start.
A relatively recent partnership between the British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, 35, and a group of South African musicians from the same generation, the Ancestors' music isn't like any other jazz being played today - even in South Africa - but that doesn't mean it can't be a model. Their second album, "We Are Sent Here by History," due Friday, seems to argue that by escaping any single context or outside expectation, a group can hit upon a kind of liberation that's fresh enough to be useful.
"One thing that's come up in our conversations, and has been transmitted into the narrative of the album, is the fact that we need to try to imagine what the future can hold idealistically," Mr. Hutchings said from London in a phone interview. "We need to start articulating our utopias, articulating what needs to be burned and what needs to be saved."
The pillars of this band are the fire-stirring voice of Siyabonga Mthembu; the sinewy, palpitating tenor saxophone of Mr. Hutchings, its leader and main composer; and the churning thrust of its rhythm section: the bassist Ariel Zamonsky, the percussionist Gontse Makhene and the drummer Tumi Mogorosi.
The alto saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu is also deeply in the mix, often entwined with Mr. Hutchings's lines. So are a few guest musicians, who appear on the album in select spots: the pianists Nduduzo Makhathini and Thandi Ntuli, and the trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni. All but Mr. Hutchings are based in Johannesburg or nearby Soweto.
The bandleader typically writes out the basic structure of each piece, but "that's just the first step," he said. "How the musicians then react to it, give their feedback - that's what creates the album, the energy, good music."
Mr. Hutchings is a linchpin and an ambassador of the London scene, but the defining quality of his life and music has been travel. As a child, he spent years living in Barbados, internalizing its musical and cultural traditions, before returning to London for high school. It was on a series of trips to South Africa, stemming from a romantic relationship, that Mr. Hutchings fell in with Mr. Mlangeni and the members of his Amandla Freedom Ensemble, most of whom would eventually join the Ancestors.
Mr. Mthembu, whose art-rock band The Brother Moves On has always stood adjacent to Johannesburg's jazz scene proper, was glad to finally link up with this cast of improvisers. "Brother Moves On has always been this periphery act," Mr. Mthembu said. "The jazz cats never got why we were able to get the jazz venues full." When he was invited to the first recording session for Mr. Hutchings's band in 2015, he said, "Everyone on it was cats that I looked up to in Joburg."
Mr. Mthembu was supposed to record vocals on just two tracks, but he ended up staying for the entire session and appears on about half of the Ancestors' stirring debut album, "Wisdom of Elders," which was released the next year on Brownswood Recordings. Mr. Hutchings soon signed a multi-project contract with Impulse! Records; "We Are Sent Here by History" will be his third album for the label in three years, and his first on Impulse! with the Ancestors.
Mr. Hutchings has said he hoped the band would capture some of the "restless energy" of Johannesburg, a metropolitan but deeply working-class city, where much of the arts activity takes place underground. "We Are Sent Here by History" is intended specifically as both a lament and an embrace of the coming climate apocalypse.
"We're talking about imaginative structures, we're talking about how we perceive things and how we process information that's given to us - how we see ourselves in the sense of how we relate to history," he said. "Hopefully it's just a starting point to get people thinking about their own relationship to these things."
The members of the Ancestors all have a distanced relationship to the American jazz tradition, which is to say they enjoy the privilege of choice. Together they have plucked some specific inspirations - the spiritual jazz of Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders; and the recent success of Kamasi Washington, which showed them what might be possible - but more or less left the rest. Beyond that, the Ancestors' sonic inheritance comes mostly from South Africa, from bands like the Zulu jazz-rockers Batsumi and the numerous apartheid-era musicians who found refuge in Britain like Louis Moholo, Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani and Hugh Masekela.
"There's a sense that there is a particular sound that's being inherited, but then there's also a shared forward motion with other people from other parts of the world," said Mr. Mogorosi, the drummer. "We're trying to use the tradition to do something more with it - or rather, using the tradition to try to bring play into it. I think this sense of play really pushes things forward."
For Mr. Mthembu, moving ahead also means putting pieces of history back together that have been ripped apart, or simply repressed. "I think imagining - in an African space and in African philosophy - is remembering," he said. "Remembering that your people had ways, they had a science, they had ways of talking about the creator, had other idioms and metaphors. And it's in the words that the remembering comes."
Mr. Hutchings's other two ensembles - the raving, synth-driven Comet Is Coming and the propulsive, two-drummer Sons of Kemet, both featuring British musicians - are meant to get listeners dancing and seeing the Holy Ghost. The Ancestors work at a lower, deeper register; it's not dance music, but it is still meant to move you. It may be the most imaginative of the musician's three groups.
Much of the time, the only instrument carrying a melody is the bass, undergirding Mr. Mthembu's stern voice as he intones lyrics in Zulu and Xhosa in a big, quavering baritone or recites words (in English) adapted from the visionary verse of Lindokuhle Nkosi, a young South African poet. Even on some of the liveliest tracks - like "Behold the Deceiver," with its weaving horns and bubbling riot of drums and percussion - the bass hardly wavers from a single incantatory phrase.
In the eerie soundscaping of "You've Been Called," the album's second song, the South African saxophonist Zim Ngqawana's influence looms as large as that of John Cage. Swathed in a cloud of noxious little howls and echoes, Mr. Mthembu reveals the meaning of the album's title: "We possess the power to pray our own devils back to hell, back to the burning," he says. "We are sent here by history." PHOTO: Mark Abramson Adama Jalloh
Crossover Media Projects with Shabaka & The Ancestors
On March 13, Shabaka & The Ancestors will make their Impulse! debut with the band's sophomore album We Are Sent Here By History. Their breakout 2016 album, Wisdom of Elders, established Shabaka & The Ancestors as a sudden force in spiritual jazz. But where that record warned of impending societal collapse, this one unfolds within it. Shabaka refers to the album as a "meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning." On the lead single "Go My Heart, Go To Heaven," Siyabonga pays homage to his father's favorite church song. The word "hamba" (or "go") is repeated, and within the context of this track, it's "about the point where one gives in and wants out of this world," Siyabonga says. "But in times of darkness is a call to the light and the heart."