September 23, 2011

"Little Match Girl Passion" @ Indeterminacies

Portara New Music Quartet - Zeitgeist Gallery 2011-09-13b

Last week’s Indeterminacies event at Zeitgeist was (as usual) quite extraordinary with a sublime performance of David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Little Match Girl Passion” by the Portara New Music Quartet combined with an enthralling discussion led by renowned classical music critic, John Pitcher. The piece (which I wrote about here) was given an emotional, almost operatic, reading and Mr. Pritcher got everyone talking about everything from minimalism, modernism and postmodernism to religion and politics. Inevitably, Hans Christian Andersen’s allegorical story of Christ was the focus of the conversation—yet the vocalists were encouraged to talk about the music itself and the challenges of performance, including the difficulty of playing percussion instruments while singing rhythmically complex music. In my opinion, they pulled it off with remarkable élan given their admittedly limited rehearsal time although the overdrawn dynamic swings were a little overwhelming at times. Nevertheless, it was a deeply moving experience, enhanced by the gallery’s subtly reverberant acoustic and the enormous picture windows looking out on a busy and carefree 21st Avenue.

Next month, Indeterminacies hosts composer/instrumentalist Andrew Raffo Dewar with performances of his chamber works performed by Pulse New Music Ensemble. Amazingly enough, your humble blogger has been asked to serve as moderator! Mr. Pitcher will be a hard act to follow but, then again, Andrew Raffo Dewar’s music is right up my alley, what with his having studied and performed with one of my big heroes, Anthony Braxton, and whose own compositions are exquisite examples of “ergodic notation.” I may not totally understand how this music works but I know this will be an opportunity to learn. These Indeterminacies events are always scintillating and I’m proud to have been asked to participate—I’ll give it my best shot! There will be more about all this on blogs to come. In the meantime, check out Theatre Intangible’s in depth interview with curators Lain York and Lesley Beaman here.


tonyyoungblood said...

Great review! I think I've seen you at every Indeterminacies show, though I just discovered your excellent blog. I just posted the podcast featuring this performance at

Rodger Coleman said...

Thanks, Tony! Looking forward to checking out the podcast! Thanks for the plug on your blog as well!