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20th Century Music.

Those interested in keeping up with contemporary music, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area or New York, will find much to like in this magazine. Although the editor is not named in the magazine, he is Mark Alburger, who contributed two interviews and several reviews, and wrote the letter accompanying the sample issue. Alburger is a composer, musicologist, and music critic on the faculty of Dominican College.

The sample issue contains three feature articles. David Bundler (the pseudonym of freelance writer Byrwec Ellison) has contributed "East of Java: An Ethnomusicological Adventure." This article gives an account of Bruce and Sheridan Fahnestock, who went to Java, Molucca, Banda, and Timor in February 1940. Their recording project yielded over one hundred acetate discs. These brothers gave one concert from the recordings, but their attempt to produce a commercial recording was interrupted by World War II and Bruce's death in New Guinea. The recordings were eventually donated by Sheridan's widow, Margaret, to the Library of Congress. Recently, Rykodisc released a CD entitled Music for the Gods, which contains music from this collection. A description of some of the problems surmounted in producing the Rykodisc recording concludes the article.

Michael Dellaira (composer and Vice-President of the American Composers Alliance), in "Three Essays on Recorded Objects: [Part] 1, Recorded Objects and Scores" makes a rather lackluster contribution concerning the nature of traditionally notated scores and scores for electronic compositions. Mark Alburger's two interviews conclude the features. "A Meditative Interview with Pauline Oliveros" covers her life at Mills College and in Kingston, New York, musical influences, and other composers with whom she has worked. "A Garden Interview with Lou Harrison" gives his views on living in California, along with information on his recent compositions and other work. According to correspondence, articles in other recent issues have been devoted to minimalism, Terry Riley, Francis Poulenc, George Crumb, Alexander Scriabin, Olivier Messiaen, Gyorgy Ligeti, Indonesian music, Canadian composers, and notation. Interviews have also been conducted with Augusta Read Thomas, Todd Machover, Anthony Davis, Ali Akbar Khan, Meredith Monk, Lisa Bielawa, Madeleine Milhaud, and John Harrington of the Kronos Quartet.

The bulk of the issue (thirteen pages) is devoted to concert reviews - primarily of concerts in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. Performers and composers of the works performed include Judy Dunaway; Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony performing works by Lou Harrison, Benjamin Britten, Heitor Villa-Lobos, George Gershwin, Charles Ives, and Arnold Schoenberg; Robert Duerr and the New York City Opera performing Paul Hindemith's Mathis der Maler; Pauline Oliveros at Mills College; Enric Andrew Zappa conducting his Concerto for Four Percussion and Orchestra; an all-Webern program by Schwungvoll!; Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony performing Bright Sheng's Four Pieces for Orchestra (a world premiere); and the music of Elyzabeth Meade as interpreted by Fellow Travelers Performance Group. The reviews range in tone from being relatively straightforward to incredibly enthusiastic.

Other regular columns include a few reviews of newly published music, recordings, and books. A calendar of upcoming performances lists for the most part those on the East and West coasts of the United States, with occasional listings of Canadian and European concerts. A six-page column entitled "Chronicle" presents excerpts from newspaper reviews of recent concerts, again mostly in the United States. An odds-and-ends category under the rubric "Comment" contains interesting trivia: one section entitled "By the Numbers" compares, in square inches, the coverage of music and of fashion at concerts reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times (San Francisco is heavy on fashion). Another section called "What's Played/What's Billed" compares the composers programmed with those advertised on the bill (twentieth-century composers tend not to be billed: Beethoven wins over Ives and Schoenberg; Michael Tilson Thomas and the guest soloists are chosen over all composers except Berlioz and Tchaikovsky). Letters from readers and academic job listings conclude the regular features.

The magazine has good laser typography, although photocopying left some faded areas in the type, and good, albeit stiff, paper. The music examples are very clear, but the photocopied photographs are of only fair quality. Issues are generally forty to fifty pages long.

Although the magazine has an ax to grind over the treatment of twentieth-century music by the press and the public, it is done with good humor. The somewhat narrow geographic focus is balanced by the wide range and importance of contemporary composers represented.
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Author:Eggleston, Suzanne
Publication:Notes
Article Type:Periodical Review
Date:Jun 1, 1996
Words:735
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