AMN Reviews: Nathan Davis – Hagoromo [Tundra tun009]

The inspirations for Nathan Davis’ dance opera Hagoromo are the venerable Noh play of the same name, and the earlier legend the play is based on. The story that Davis adopts from these sources is one in which the marvelous intersects with the mundane: the hagoromo is a feather garment worn by the swan maiden, a celestial being, which is stolen by a fisherman who finds it hanging from a tree. In exchange for seeing the swan maiden’s dance symbolizing the lunar phases, the fisherman returns the garment to her, thus allowing her to return to the sky.

While retaining the classic story of the fisherman and the swan maiden, Davis introduces elements of his own. While acknowledging traditional Noh conventions he alters or expands them. For example, he supplements the standard Noh orchestra of flute and drums to include bassoon, violin and guitar; he changes the male chorus typical of Noh to a girls’ chorus; and he divides each of the story’s two roles between a singer and a dancer.

Musically, Hagoromo is divided in two as well. The first several sections are set in heaven, while the remaining sections are set on earth. The music for heaven is, appropriately enough, ethereal and stately, couched in long tones and centered on the ghostly sound of violin harmonics. Only in the last part of the heaven segment does something happen to overturn this celestial serenity: the music turns agitated when the hagoromo is lost. It’s an apt transition to the second, earth segment of the opera, where the main drama takes place. The music there reflects the story’s conflict and resolution not only in the instrumental setting but also and particularly in the singing, which carries the emotional force and range one would want from an opera.

Daniel Barbiero

All About Jazz Reviews

Source: All About Jazz.

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New York United (577 Records)

This Week in New York 


The 2019 Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival will open on February 11th with Steven Burke’s Dream Forms, performed by the di.vis.ion trio which premiered and recorded the work. Dream Forms is comprised of three episodes and was initially inspired by different types of dreams, including precognitive (clairvoyant), lucid, and epic.
Monday, February 11 at 7:30 PM
Symphony Space, Leonard Nimoy Thalia, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY

String quartet and guitar aren’t a common combination, but the unique pairing is at the core of this Pop-Up featuring the Mivos Quartet and guitarist Nadav Lev. Two works for this amalgamation bookend the program, including two New York premieres and a piece for solo guitar by Tristan Murail.
Tuesday, February 12 at 6:00 PM
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY

Roulette pays tribute to their past, present, and future with the launch of the Roulette Archive. Celebrating the thousands of artists who have performed at Roulette over the last 40 years, the evening will also honor future artists to be added to this historic platform with recognition of Roulette’s 2019 commissions, residencies, and fellowship artists.
Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 PM
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Robert: Seriously Amused will be flutist/composer Robert Dick‘s first foray into the world of performance art. Developed with director and co-writer Rinde Eckert, Seriously Amused is part biographical, part philosophical, and more than a bit strange and weird. Along with flute playing, Dick will be singing, moving, thinking, monologuing, and giving his inner voices free play.
Wednesday, February 13 at 8:00 PM
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

This newly reconstructed opera by the late Robert Ashley (written in 1985 and first performed in 1991) follows the adventures of its protagonist Linda, whose travels and romances can be read as attempts at assimilation and cultural cross-pollination, with varying degrees of success and rejection. The metaphor stretches in time from 1492—the beginning of a European consciousness of America and the expulsion of the Sephardic Jews from Spain—to the late 1940s on the West Coast (representing the future of the USA). Densely layered streams of text, lush live vocals, and a minutely structured electronic orchestra combine to present Ashley’s portrait of the American psyche.
Wednesday, February 13 to Saturday, February 16 at 8:00 PM
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY

Featured on the program are Jürg Frey’s Colours of Silence, for two Casio keyboards and percussion and Michael Pisaro’s Concentric Rings in Magnetic Levitation, for three musicians playing piano, sine tones, percussion, radios, tapes, and various other sound sources.
Saturday, February 16 at 7:30 PM
MISE-EN_PLACE, 678 Hart Street, Brooklyn, NY

ENSEMBLE / PARALLAX premieres Gabriele Vanoni’s multimedia electro-acoustic chamber opera, Island of Peoples, based on the stories of immigrants passing through Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century, with material drawn from interviews from the Ellis Island Oral Histories project. The performance will be highlighted with video art by Malo Lacroix and with soprano Mary Mackenzie and tenor Jonas Budris bringing to life the emotional journeys of the immigrants.
Saturday, February 16 at 9:00 PM
Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, NY

NowNet Arts Festival is an annual event featuring premieres of contemporary network arts works by multiple artists for the NowNet Arts Ensemble and collaborating groups. The works are performed live via the internet by artists in different geographic locations.
Sunday, February 17 at 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Benzaquen Hall, 450 West 37th Street, New York, NY