We've spent the past three years getting to know the imaginative musicians in the St. Louis region. On November 20, we will present music by composers based in and around St. Louis, including Peter Martin, Christopher Stark and Damon Davis. Martin is a beacon and ambassador of the St. Louis jazz community; Davis reaches audiences through ground-breaking music and art that grows directly out of his experiences as a St. Louisan; and Stark teaches at Washington University. We will also perform the work of Carl Schimmel who works in the region at Illinois State University.
All the works on the program were composed and arranged specifically for Alarm Will Sound.
Nonesuch releases Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Steve Reich’s album Radio Rewrite on September 30, 2014 (in the UK, October 6). Co-commissioned for and recorded by Alarm Will Sound, the title piece references two songs by the English band Radiohead. Alan Pierson conducts this premiere recording of Radio Rewrite, which was composed in 2012. The album also includes recordings of Electric Counterpoint (1987) and Piano Counterpoint, which is a 2011 transcription by Vincent Corver of Reich’s 1973 Six Pianos; the works are performed, respectively, by Radiohead’s guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, and pianist Vicky Chow, who is a member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Radio Rewrite is available to pre-order now in the Nonesuch Store.
Reich says of his new piece: “Over the years composers have used pre-existing music (folk or classical) as material for new pieces of their own. Radio Rewrite, along with Proverb (Perotin) and Finishing the Hat—Two Pianos (Sondheim), is my modest contribution to this genre.” He continues, “Now, in the early 21st century, we live in an age of remixes where musicians take audio samples of other music and remix them into audio of their own. Being a composer who works with musical notation I chose to reference two songs from the rock group Radiohead for an ensemble of musicians playing non-rock instruments: ‘Everything in Its Right Place’ and ‘Jigsaw Falling into Place.’”
Reich and Greenwood met in Krakow in 2010 during a festival of Reich’s music, where Greenwood gave a performance of Electric Counterpoint that its composer liked very much. (Greenwood has since performed it many more times, including during a London tribute to Nonesuch’s 50th anniversary at the Barbican Centre.) Reich says, “When I returned home I made it a point to go online and listen to Radiohead’s music and the two songs mentioned above stuck in my head. It was not my intention to make anything like ‘variations’ on these songs, but rather to draw on their harmonies and sometimes melodic fragments and work them into my own piece. As to actually hearing the original songs, the truth is—sometimes you hear them and sometimes you don’t.”
Electric Counterpoint was commissioned by BAM for guitarist Pat Metheny. It is the third in a series of pieces (first Vermont Counterpoint in 1982 for flutist Ransom Wilson followed by New York Counterpoint in 1985 for clarinetist Richard Stolzman) with a soloist playing against a pre-recorded tape of themselves. In Electric Counterpoint the soloist pre-records as many as ten guitars and two electric bass parts and then plays the final eleventh guitar part live against the tape.
Reich says Piano Counterpoint “is an arrangement of Six Pianos in which four of the six piano parts are pre-recorded and the last two are combined into a more virtuosic single part played live. For these last two parts to be played by a single pianist it was necessary to move some of the melodic patterns up an octave giving the piece an increased sparkle and intensity. The amplification of the live player along with the pre-recorded playback adds additional electricity. Combined with the practicality of needing only a solo pianist, this arrangement can be heard as improving on the original.”
When Alarm Will Sound started playing together way back in 2001, the classical music world looked a lot different than it does today. News then was all about how orchestras were failing and how classical music was no longer relevant to today’s world. Now fourteen seasons later, we are thankful to see an increasingly vital and active new music community springing up all across the country. The audience has spoken, and they demand new music created and performed by the musicians of our time!
We’d like to think that we had something to do with that—and we know that our audience certainly did! We are asking for your help to continue building the community of new music. Your donation will help us bring our unique brand of high energy performances to audiences around the world.
Your support also helps Alarm Will Sound to develop new initiatives that engage new audiences. For example, this year we will launch Alarm System which fosters long-term musical collaborations between our musicians and artists from other traditions like jazz and electronic music, and Music Today which enables ongoing mentoring relationships with pre-college music students at the Community Music School in St. Louis.
We would like to show our appreciation for your gift of $150 or more by sharing with you our latest recording, Steve Reich's Radio Rewrite. With you gift $60 or more we will send you your choice of an Alarm Will Sound T-Shirt. Your tax-deductible donation will go to work immediately to support Alarm Will Sound’s many musical and educational activities.
Thank you for being a fan, attending our shows, and supporting the new music community through your contribution. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
This is our world premiere performance at the Mizzou International Composers Festival in 2011.
Visit our Soundcloud for more recordings.
A native of Jamaica, Gavin grew up in a very musical culture and was exposed to a variety of music from a young age. Gavin sang in the boys’ choir and pursued classical piano, but was also surrounded with reggae and Jamaican folk music on a daily basis.
It wasn’t until he came to the US for a two-year stint at an international school in New Mexico that Gavin fully realized his affinity for music. He originally intended to pursue a career in computer science, but an assignment to write a piece of music sparked his interest and eventually led him to pursue multiple degrees in music theory and composition.
Gavin puts most of his creative energy these days into his work as Managing Director of Alarm Will Sound fueled by his passion to create a cultural space for contemporary music and living composers. But he also makes time for an occasional Scrabble game—only the real deal, though, none of these knock-offs like Words With Friends! He makes a tough competitor having memorized all the 2-letter words.
Read articles by our members, get behind-the-scenes reports about our projects, and share your thoughts at Alarmists, our blog.