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Posts tagged 'Alvin Singleton'

Seth Parker Woods Plays Alvin Singleton's "Argoru II"



Cellist Seth Parker Woods has risen to the top of his generation: a virtuoso cellist who knows no boundaries, Woods easily travels between (and indeed blurs the differences between) the worlds of new music, improvisation, performance art, and electro-acoustic experimentation. On June 1st in Athens, Greece, as a part of Documenta 14, Woods will perform Alvin Singleton's Argoru II, alongside George Lewis' Not Alone and Pierre Alexandre Tremblay's asinglewordisnotenough (invariant), in a concert that also features veteran composer, performer, and instrument designer Peter Zinovieff

Argoru II forms part of Singleton's Argoru series of compositions for solo instruments. "Argoru", in the Twi language spoken in Ghana, means "to play". As Carman Moore writes,

In Argoru II the composer constructs a world of "strange characters" for whom he seems to have created an original language which they use to scream out, cajole, shout, mumble, and chuckle. Single powerful shots alternate with long phrase ultra-soft scramblings. This is the theatre of sound."

Check out a recording of Argoru II, performed by Ronald Crutcher, below.

Alvin Singleton's "Sweet Chariot" at the National Museum of African American History & Culture

On February 26, members of the US Army Band "Pershing's Own" performed Alvin Singleton's Sweet Chariot in the recently-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Sweet Chariot, composed as a "tentet" with multiple reed doublings, sets the traditional spiritual with Singleton's characteristic inventiveness and unique compositional voice. Carman Moore writes,

Sweet Chariot seems to be, much like Singleton’s recent orchestral work Different River, created from a series of disparate events, often divided from one another by silences or long-held tones. Some of them seem lyrically mournful, some fanfare-esque, some dancey (at one point almost salsa-like), some joyful, some loud, some soft, high and low…but always highly-contrasted and unpredictable. 

If you weren't in DC, you can still watch the performance, which was live-streamed and recorded here (starting at 57:45); Sweet Chariot was also recorded and released on Albany Records in 2014.

Ethan Iverson interviews Alvin Singleton on "Do The Math"


(photo: Alvin Singleton, left; Ethan Iverson, right)

Alvin Singleton, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday year with a portrait concert at Roulette, has been interviewed by pianist and composer Ethan Iverson on his blog, Do The Math. Calling Singleton "one of the most important living American composers," Iverson queries Singleton about his influences, collaborations, commissions, performances, and more.

One of the most extensive and thorough interviews with Singleton ever published, their conversation traces Singleton's musical life through his early days in Brooklyn, his training in New York and at Yale, his experiences with other major composers and performers, and the preservation of his unique compositional voice in the face of countless 20th-century aesthetic movements. 

(video: Argoru IV; Stephanie Griffin, viola)

Along the way, Singleton covers a large sampling of his works over the years, including the Argoru series, Be Natural, Mestizo II, In Our Own House, Inside-Out, ShadowsSecret Desire to Be Black, and many other works published by Schott Music. Discussing his recent work for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Different River, Singleton and Iverson had the following exchange: 

EI: Different River is an orchestral work for Atlanta that has various strong thematic characters. When there are big blaring major triads next to more conventionally advanced modernist harmony it is rather shocking.

AS: Well, the piece itself is the river. And as river flows, the scenery changes. But it’s still the same river.

EI: A metaphor for American music, perhaps!

Be sure to check out the full interview at Do The Math.
 

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