Thursday, December 15, 2016

Freelancing in Classical Music

Clarinetist extraordinaire Julian Milkis and world-champion accordionist Alex Sevastian performed Ray Luedeke's piece, Serenity, in Cobourg, Ontario as part of a Les Amis concert on 25 November. Shortly, they will be in St. Petersburg, Russia, where they will perform it again. Then on 10 March they will perform Serenity along with Ray's Tango Dreams + music by Giya Kanceli at Symphony Space in New York City.

Julian travels the world performing as a cross-over artist. Initially, he got a boost from his teacher, Benny Goodman. That was enough to get him started...

Alex Sevastian won a string of contests and then signed on with a famous group, Quartetto Gelato.

Ray Luedeke has done just about everything, playing in groups like the Toronto Symphony, teaching at Universities, winning composition and performance contests. And now he is in NYC as a free lance composer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An honest online News Service? NOT McKenzie News!

Anyone know, or have experience with, an honest online News Service?
For 6 years, here in New York City, I have been promoting music theater shows.
In other years. I hired a press agent. This year (2016) for In Kharms Way I decided to try an online News Service.
Selections from In Kharms Way:

McKenzie News Service seemed to me to fit the bill, since it specialized in the performing arts. It seemed honest, given what appeared on their web page.
NOT! BIG MISTAKE! McKenzie didn’t even bother to fake a press release. I am now $190 poorer, and possibly that much wiser.

Press Agents here in NYC are expensive. Although Press Agents can be found for $1000-$1500, a common fee is $10,000 (and then add any actual costs of advertising). With the advent of the Internet, I’m not sure how relevant traditional Press Agents are. And with my latest experience with McKenzie News Service, I’m totally wary of the online variety.

Beware !

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

In Kharms Way Bits n Pieces

Kharms Way
explores the outrageous, absurdly
comical, occasionally obscene, and ultimately sublime world of Russia’s iconic
master of the absurd, Daniil Kharms (1905-42).

Featuring The Madison String Quartet
and actors Neil Redfield and Cristina Ramos. With original music by Ray Luedeke
on texts by Russian writer Daniil Kharms, as directed by Courtney Laine Self,
In Kharms Way will be performed at 7:30pm
April 29 at the Tenri Cultural Institute of New York.
A Russian vodka (or Eastern European
wine) reception will begin at 7:30 pm on Friday, April 29, with the live
musical / theatrical performance beginning at 8pm, all taking place at the
Tenri Cultural Institute of New York (43A West 13th Street). Tickets are $20 in
advance online at, $25 at the door.

For those unable to
attend the Friday, April 29 performance, consider attending the dress rehearsal for In Kharms Way,
Thursday, April 28 at 12 noon at the National Opera Center, Charles MacKay
Studio, 330 Seventh Ave. NY. Vodka tasting at 11:30 am.

Composer Ray Luedeke has crafted 19 of
Daniil Kharms original vignettes into a five act play for 2 actors and set the
play to music for string quartet. The on-stage string quartet becomes a virtual
"third actor", at times even participating with text. Both actors
claim to be an incarnation of the avant-garde, futurist writer of non-linear
plays, anti-rational verse, and parables for adult-children, Daniil Kharms.
(Kharms, himself - who dressed like an English dandy, smoked a calabash pipe,
and often behaved illogically in public, was eventually arrested by Stalin and
died of starvation in a Soviet prison.)
Virtually unknown, except as a writer
of children's literature, until 1970 and "glasnost" in the Soviet
Union, Kharms' reputation has since grown exponentially, as his adult works
have become available. In present day Russia, Kharms is a cultural hero. Mikhail
Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe have had world wide success with their version of
Kharms' The Old Woman, as directed by
Robert Wilson.

The Music

The music for In Kharms way is a
showpiece for string quartet and showcases the enigmatic and sometimes bizarre
world of Daniil Kharmsa with a variety of textures, techniques, and styles. You
may hear references to the music of Mendelssohn, of Beethoven, of Josquin
Desprez, of Brahms, of Leos Janecek, and even of John Phillip Sousa - all in
service to an absurd text. Or is there a method to the seeming madness of
Daniil Kharms?

Afire Opera-Cabaret
Music as Theater".

Begun in Canada in 2007 by composer Ray Luedeke and moving to NYC in 2010,
Voice Afire productions include Butterfly's
, a re-invention for 7 performers of Puccini's opera; Close Embrace. a tango cabaret for 8
performers; My Life with Pablo Neruda,
a cabaret-opera base on the life of the Chilean poet; The Magical Singing Drum, a chamber opera on an African theme; The Art of Love / Into the Labyrinth for
2 pianos, actor, and visuals; and Kafka
for string quartet and 2 actors.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

composer Michael Dellaira

New York omposer Michael Dellaira

Michael Dellaira is known for his “haunting harmonies”

(, “eloquence and sensitivity” (New York Times)

and “flair for vocal writing” (

Friday, December 4, 2015

National Sawdust

In the music business there are more ways than one to succeed. As a composer, one can simply write good music, and hope that someone else will choose to champion that music.

Or, one can take action. One way to take action is to become the “middle man” - open
your own performance space. George Friedrich Handel did this when in 1722 he started his own opera company in London. Benjamin Britten did it in 1948 when he started the Aldeburgh Festival. Here in New York composer John Zorn did with
“The Stone” in 2005.


Now again, here in New York, composer Paola Prestini has opened a new Brooklyn Space, National Sawdust,

which opened on Oct. 1, 2015 in Williamsburg. A century old sawdust factory, it has been re-imagined as a concert hall, rehearsal room. recording studio, and arts incubator. Paola is National Sawdust’s Creative and Executive Director.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

British company Nova Music Opera
does interesting things for contemporary
and not-so-contemporary British composers

Nova Music has been involved in the production of chamber opera for several years. For its 2014 UK tour, Nova Music Opera coupled two specially commissioned works to great acclaim: Airborne, Cecilia McDowall's work, to a libretto by Andy Rashleigh, about a WW1 pilot and his sweetheart and Stephen McNeff's Prometheus Drowned which examines the curious circumstances of Percy Bysshe Shelley's death in Livorno, Italy in 1822.

On the video, samples of the work of Cecilia McDowall.
Born in London, 1951, Cecilia McDowall has been described by the International Record Review as having 'a communicative gift that is very rare in modern music'. Often inspired by extra-musical influences, her writing combines a rhythmic vitality with expressive lyricism 'which is, at times, intensely moving'. She has won many awards and has been short-listed seven times for the British Composer Awards. In 2014 she won the British Composer Award for choral music. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, ensembles and at major festivals both in Britain and abroad and has been broadcast on BBC Radio and worldwide.

Her recent commissions include the Musicians Benevolent Fund St Cecilia anthem for the service of St Cecilia at St Paul's Cathedral, sung by the joint choirs of Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral, and liturgical works for Durham and Liverpool Cathedrals; a commission from the BBC (for Scunthorpe Cooperative Junior Choir, the winner of the BBC Radio 3 2008 Choir of the Year): the Welsh Chamber Orchestra, Jeremy Huw Williams, baritone, David Juritz, violin, conductor, Anthony Hose at the Beaumaris Festival; the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus in conjunction with the NE Community Choir for performance in Aberdeen in October, 2011, and from the City of London Sinfonia (a commission from the Scott Polar research Institute to celebrate the centenary of Scott's death in 1912) which was performed in the Birmingham Symphony Hall in February, 2012.
Another recent choral work, the Shipping Forecast (commissioned by the Portsmouth Choir), gained national media attention. Cecilia says, 'There's something rather beguiling and mysterious about the Shipping Forecast which sounds most poetic, but at the same time is so crucial for those at sea'. The work reflects the mystery and force of the sea, drawing together the poetry of Se├ín Street, the psalm, 'They that go down to the sea in ships',  and the words of the Shipping Forecast itself.
Much of her music is on disc; the Deux-Elles label has recorded her works for flute and piano and wind ensemble, performed by Ensemble Lumiere and pianist, Richard Shaw (Piper's Dream, 2002 - DXL1033) and includes the specially commissioned Arctic Circle (for piano and wind quintet). Dutton Epoch have released four CDs performed by the City of Canterbury Chamber Choir, Orchestra Nova, conductor, George Vass, and the Joyful Company of Singers, conductor Peter Broadbent. Three Antiphons have been recorded by the International Celebrity Trumpet Ensemble consisting of players from the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic on the Brass Classics label. The renowned American choir, Phoenix Chorale, have recordedThree Latin Motets on the Chandos label (Spotless Rose: Hymns to the Virgin Mary).This CD won a Grammy award in February, 2009, and was nominated for Best Classical Album.
Commissions for 2014-2015 include a short chamber opera, Airborne, marking the centenary of the First World War and works for the BBC Singers and Westminster Cathedral amongst others. In March, 2015 Dulwich College will give the premiere of Some corner of a foreign field at King's College, Cambridge with the tenor soloist, Andrew Kennedy. Oxford University Press have signed Cecilia McDowall as an 'Oxford' composer and she is currently 'composer-in-residence' at Dulwich College, London. In 2013 she received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Portsmouth.