Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rita and Victor Costanzi

Rita Costanzi, harpist extraordinaire, and Victor Costanzi, violinist extraordinaire, invited Dulce and me to their Bronx apartment building for a special concert. The concert was a Christmas show and sing-a-long for their fellow apartment dwellers and was presented in the foyer of their building.

Both Rita and Victor are former members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and both decided to move to NYC a few years ago. Vancouver was the obvious loser. Victor and Rita are both outsize personalities and musicians. Rita was twice winner of the American Harp Society's National Competition and recipient of the Lily Laskine award for the most outstanding harp recital. Victor performs with a long list of groups both here and in New Jersey.

Rita is also an actress. From Rita's website : Adding a new dimension to her performance art, Rita Costanzi astounds audiences with the three monodramas written especially for her. The Westcoast Music Awards nominated her solo Classical CD, Of Fields and Forests for “Best Classical Album”. Vancouver Television introduced her in its series Pacific Profiles featuring prominent and unique individuals living in Vancouver and CBC Radio’s Tapestry devoted a documentary to her work playing for the terminally ill. Her fourth and most recent CD, Song of the Stars, an album of Celtic music for contemplation and healing, received a Five Star rating from CBC Radio’s Sound Advice. Her latestcomposition, Beneath Her Heart, for Women’s Choir, Children’s Choir andNarrator,was premiered by Vancouver’s Elektra Women’s Choir in April, 2008.

How do I know Rita and Victor? Along with the obvious downside, there are certain benefits to being a composer. I have written 5 pieces for the harp, two of which have been recorded by Judy Loman, another extraordinary harpist. Correct me if I am wrong - I believe that I am the only composer in history to have written not 1 but 2 works for harp and string quartet:

The Moon in the Labyrinth:
Mvt. 3 :

The Lyre of Orpheus
Mvt. 3 :

Comments from harpists? Vancouver?

The Austrian Cultural Forum

Here's another interesting place to make your NY debut, The Austrian Cultural Forum.

Here's what Wikopedia says:
Concerts and performances are presented either in the in-house auditorium or at various venues in New York. Outside performances are organized in cooperation with American partner institutions, and have included concerts at Carnegie Hall and Judson Memorial Church.
Among other events, Moving Patterns, an electronic music festival first staged in spring 2005, introduces Austrian electronic and experimental musicians in the USA and is considered an important contribution to the electronica scene. The ACF regularly screens films on Austrian subjects or by Austrian filmmakers as part of a year-round series and also shows films in special screenings in the context of other events organized by the Cultural Forum. Activities of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York also include a variety of podium discussions, readings, and book presentations.

I went to hear a concert given by the Argento Group
This concert supposedly featured music influenced by Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. 
The music, except for a piece by Schoenberg and another by Luigi Nono, was all by living and mostly local composers. Nono's piece featured contra-bass flute.

The players were fantastic, less so the music. I had thought the 12 tone system was good and dead.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Americas Society and Continuum

So you're looking for a place to perform in NYC? Easy enough. But what about drumming up an audience? Not so easy.

If you have an interesting program to present, you might try the Americas Society at 680 Park Ave..
On Monday Dulce and I attended a concert at the Americas Society The concert featured Continuum, the well-known NY new music group, in a program of Canadian music: the likes of R. Murray-Schafer, John Weinzweig, Ann Southam, Diana McIntosh, Giles Tremblay, and Claude Vivier. Not exactly household names here in NY, and yet the concert was well-attended - about 60 people. Note that the Americas Society room is expandable. I would guess that it could seat about 120 people in its expanded version.

The Continuum performers gave terrific, committed performances. After the concert there was a meet-the-performer reception. I was able to touch base with Continuum's directors, Joel Sachs and Cheryl Seltzer.
I also met Continuum's excellent harpist, Bridget Kibbey.

Is this information helpful?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Creating buzz in NYC

Dulce, my Portuguese/Canadian wife, finally received her US Visa, after what seemed like an endless time in limbo (which the Catholics say no longer exists). I drove my rented Mazda 5 SUV to Toronto through snow, sleet, rain, and fog and picked her up along with the 2 cats and our remaning earthly possessions. Then with the 2 drugged cats, we drove through a blizzard back to NYC, at one point getting stuck in a snow bank.
Here is a close-up of Dulce as we crossed the George Washington Bridge, in the dark with traffic whizzing on all sides, into NYC.

And, later, here is Dulce, happy, at Columbus Circle all decked out for Christmas.

Dulce is helping me create a "buzz" for my upcoming show at Symphony Space, The Art of Love."Creating buzz" is the assignment given me by renowned Canadian arts manager Andrew Kwan . How to do it? Sitting over a coffee and reading the NY Times at Cosi, our favorite Manhattan coffee spot, an idea came to me.

Start with the New York Times Arts Section. The Art of Love is both a musical performance, a theater piece, and a multi-media show incorporating a film by Ron Hurwitz: Therefore, check out the music critics, the theater critics, and the film critics writing reviews in the NY Times. For Tuesday, December 7 these were:
Ben Brantley, theater
John Pareles, music
James R. Oestreich, music
Daniel J. Wakin, music
Alan Kozinn, music
Anthony Tommasini, music
Larry Rohter, film
Patrick Healy, theater
David Rooney, theater
Our next task is to write some terrific press releases about The Art of Love, and to the get these off to the above critiics. How? That's our next problem.