Those of you in the Boston area looking for something to do this Saturday night (November 18): as part of Boston Conservatory's New Music Festival, I will be a proud temporary member of the student-run Ludovico Ensemble, performing Morton Feldman's "Three Pieces for Piano" (1954). Festivities start at 8 pm in Seully Hall.
It's a cool piece that makes for an interesting problem: how much do I interpretively acknowledge Feldman's mature style in playing this early music? The "Three Pieces" are sparse and quiet, but also much more pointillistic, dissonant, and non-repetitive than Feldman's later, better-known music. Do I stretch the time out to make the piece sound more like you expect a Feldman piece to sound? Do I emphasize the Webern-esque nature of the writing to highlight where Feldman diverges from the prevailing mid-1950's path? If I try to strike a balance, will that just make the piece bland? I still have the rest of the week to tinker with it—right now I'm trying for the temporal disorientation I love in so much of Feldman's output, but the expressionistic side of me may yet win out. Suspense! Drama! All your burning questions will be answered Saturday night.
(It also strikes me that Feldman could be considered yet another exception to the increasingly suspect rule regarding composer careers I promulgated in yesterday's post. I'm telling you, it takes me forever to wake up on Monday mornings. I still stand by the unwitting persistence of the idea of musical progress, though.)
The Festival runs Thursday through Sunday and includes perfomances by the Argento Ensemble and Harvard's White Rabbit. (Scroll down this page for a schedule.) The emphasis is on Webern's influence in America—serialism, pointillism, miniaturism. All the posters have this logo:
Do you think a bumper sticker of that on your car would result in more traffic tickets, or fewer? (Just don't drive near the mess hall.)
Update: Tears of a Clownsilly has analyzed the automotive ramifications of said bumper sticker with admirably typical brilliance.