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by Daniel Hautzinger

american-graceOf all instrumentalists, pianists seem to commission and perform new works the least often. The repertoire for the piano is already so vast and worthy that many performers see no need to add to it. Why even play pieces from the past half-century, when there is so much great, neglected, earlier music?

Luckily, not all pianists think this way. Take Orli Shaham, whose album American Grace, released in February on Canary Classics, features attractive works written since 1975 by John Adams and Steven Mackey, as well as two world premiere recordings. One of those pieces, Steven Mackey’s concerto Stumble to Grace, was commissioned for Shaham by a consortium of orchestras as a result of her own initiative.

Stumble to Grace (2011), performed here with the responsive Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Shaham’s husband, David Robertson, is Mackey’s first major work for piano. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway & Mike Telin

PARRY-RichardToday, we complete our preview of eighth blackbird’s repertory for the ensemble’s program next Tuesday, April 29 at 7:30 in Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University. Spokesman and flutist Tim Munro shares his personal reflections about pieces eighth blackbird will perform composed by Richard Parry, Brett Dean, and Steven Mackey.

Richard Parry: Duo for Heart and Breath

Canadian performer, composer and producer Richard Parry (left) is a core member of the indie band Arcade Fire. Duo is one of a series of works that connect the rhythms of the human body to musical performance.

Tim Munro: “Parry did not write this for us, although it is a very recent piece. We discovered it in a YouTube clip. One of the difficulties of being on the road so much is that we have to hear all of this fantastic new music second or third hand.

“It is an unspeakably beautiful piece. It is literally a duo for heart and breath. Read the rest of this entry »

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