The performers included Rubio String Quartet, from Belgium, Jessica Marsten, soprano, Joseph Kubera, piano and celesta, Gary M. Schneider, conductor, Andrew Bolotowsky, flute, Andre Tarantiles, harp, David Rozenblatt, percussion, and Darren Campbell, string bass. They were all quite good. The small recital hall has excellent acoustics, as expected. The decor was in the style of 1850, oddly appropriate.
I've know Beth since the early 1970's when we were students together at Mills College. Actually, she arrived right after I graduated, but it was a small community. Unfortuantely, I lost contact with her when I moved away from the Bay Area in 1981. I was thrilled to hear of this concert in New York. I would get to see Beth again, and hear her music. All that at Carnegie Hall too, what a thrill!
Beth has studied with many composers and pianists including John Cage, Terry Riley, Robert Ashley, Larry Austin, and many others. While she was at Mills, she was one of the founders of EAR, an underground newspaper for the avant-garde music scene. When I knew her then, she was involved in many leading-edge, even radical, causes and movements. Hence, when I walked into this concert, I expected to hear music that was "out there" on the leading edge, both with instrumentation and composition. I was in for a big surprise.
The music was what people might call Neo-Romantic in style; there was nothing avant-garde about it. There was exuberant dissonance, no noise, no Cagian aleatrorics, no atonality, no arythmic or polyrhythmic sections, no polytonality, no serialism, no phase music, no minimalism - in fact nothing that would have seemed cutting-edge to someone sitting in that recital hall 100 or even 150 years ago. She writes:
Since 1985 I have been composing mostly swales for various instrumental combinations. A swale is a meadow or a marsh where there is nourishment and moisture and therefore, a rich diversity of plant life. My work, since 1984, has been made from swatches (of newly composed music, rather than found music) which are reminiscent of this diversity. When a horse named Swale won the Kentucky derby several years ago, I discovered the word and have used it extensively.This explains many of the names of the pieces in this concert's repertoire -
Flute Swale for flute soloI found Beth's work to be delightfully sensitive, beautiful, heart-felt, soulful, lyrical, and moving music. Sometimes it resembles simple folk music, hymns, anthems, prayers, hoedowns, laments, and mixtures of all these. At all times it is a very personal evocative expression that has a very deep poetic foundation.
January Swale for string quartet
March Swale for string quartet
Pennyroyal Swale for string quartet
Rosemary Swale for string quartet
Piano Concerto for piano, strings and percussion
The Angel for soprano, harp, celesta and strings
New Mexico Swale for flute, percussion and strings
I was very proud of my friend. What courage to compose music that is totally unconcerned with current style and trends; music that some people might thoughtlessly call reactionary, or at least old fashioned. Beth composes what she wants to, maybe what she has to, maybe what she needs to. I found the concert to be uplifting and inspiring. There was no "message", but what came across to me was: "To thine own self be true."
Natuarlly, after the concert I find myself in memories of Beth back in our student days. I remember now, that even in those exciting, turbulent, radical, and explosive times, whenever I spoke with her, Beth would mention her mother and Kentucky. She was rooted in the Earth, and in that place where she grew up. Then, you could share it with her by looking deeply into her eyes. Now you can listen to her music. Both are beautiful.
The Swales and Angles concert wasn't electro-music, but don't worry, Beth has just realeasd a new CD.
an all Beth Anderson recording of her text-sound, graphic,
electro-acoustic, and electronic music from the 1970's including Torero
Piece, Tower of Power, Peachy Keen-O, Ocean Motion Mildew Mind, Country
Time, Yes Sir Ree, I Can't Stand It, Joan, and Ode.
The performers include performers Beth and Marjorie Anderson, Linda
Collins, Kitty Mraw, Ana Perez, Wharton Tiers, Michael Blair and Spec
Pogus Productions-P21030-2 is available at http://www.pogus.com and soon on
http://www.amazon.com as well. Or call Toll-Free, 877.692.7999 or write
Pogus, 50 Ayr Rd., Chester, NY 10918-2409. The current price of a Pogus CD
is $14.00 plus S&H. There is more information and an MP3 at
Check out Beth Anderson's web site: http://www.beand.com/