AMN Reviews: Jennifer Thiessen and Ida Toninato – The Space Between Us (2018; Ambiances Magnetiques)

This baritone sax / viola duet is another 2018 release that blipped the radar then got unjustly buried under 100 subsequent albums. Nonetheless, The Space Between Us serves as a high point of that year’s recordings, and provides some superb listening.

Toninato’s baritone drones and growls, producing rough textures and a shifting foundation over which Thiessen improvises with drones of her own, motifs and brief solos. But that is not to say that Toninato remains in the background – both members of this duet contribute to the complex, ululating melodies.

Still, there is a rich ponderousness to their approach. Thiessen and Toninato are in no hurry to get anywhere in particular, as the journey seems more important than the destination. Along the way, they explore melancholy and thoughtful themes. While not overly dark, each is imbued with a sense of foreboding and a subtle intensity. The Space Between Us is not so much about creating space, but instead exploring a space that is filled with ideas and emotions.

AMN Reviews: Christi Denton – Meduse (2018; Pan y Rosas)

Meduse by Christi Denton first crossed my desk over six months ago, right after its release. I promptly put it into the “must review” folder, which apparently became the “forget about until the weather is warm” folder.  This happens.  Sorry.  Nonetheless, this 30-minute effort is well worth the wait for anyone interested in electronic composition with a sprinkling of found-object noises and unusual instrumentation.

Captive/ate begins with oscillating drones, and then adds spiky electroacoustic burbles to the mix. Waves sweep in, as does a bassy sequenced line. Loops of loosely-actuated strings and percussive elements appear in interlocking figures. Ultimately, the patterns are repetitive, and the track is effectively a series of periodic compositions that morph and fade into one another.

Toybox features high-end plucked strings in an almost conventional sounding duet. Distorted, on the other hand, lives up to its name with more object percussion, bell-like sounds, and extended techniques applied to what sounds like it could be a stringed instrument.

Portland-based Denton was trained at Mills College and Center Iannis Xenakis in France. Thus, her overall sound is reminiscent of GRM-based artists but with a unique and personal flair.  She also works with sound installations, which further informs this work.  Highly recommended.

How the Moers Festival Became a Celebration of Avant-garde Change 

Source: DW.

It all started at the end of the 1960s, when a small group of music enthusiasts came up with the idea of setting up their own jazz festival in their town, often described by its residents as the “smallest big city in Germany.” Moers is a 100,000-inhabitant city located on the western bank of the Rhine River.

A few years later, it finally happened. Organized by founder and artistic director Burkhard Hennen, the first International New Jazz Festival Moers — as it was called at that time — took place in 1972. Hennen remained head of the festival for 34 years, and it quickly managed to attract international jazz stars and fans, who flocked to the small town on the Lower Rhine for the event held every year over the Pentecost weekend.

Chicago Scene: 8-15, 2019

This is a weekly overview of live avant performances in the Chicago area. Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, June 8th 2019

8:00PM at Graham Foundation (Madlener House), 4 W Burton Pl (Free, RSVP)
Anthony Pateras

Monday, June 10th 2019

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Tuesday, June 11th 2019

5:30PM at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago, 312.280.2660 (Free) (wheelchair-accessible)
Tuesdays on the Terrace
Mike Reed with special guests

Thursday, June 13th 2019

7:00PM at Comfort Station, 2579 N Milwaukee (Donation)
Jason Stein, Adam Shead

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Dave Rempis, Jeremy Cunningham
Dave Rempis, Mars Williams, Katie Ernst, Dana Hall, Jeremy Cunningham

Friday, June 14th 2019

9:00PM at Sleeping Village, 3734 W Belmont, 773.654.3971 ($20-$17)
The Comet Is Coming : King Shabaka, Danalogue, Betamax Ohm
Shazah : Shanta Nurullah, Zahra Glenda Baker

Saturday, June 15th 2019

8:00PM at the Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia, 773.227.4433 ($10)
Dubious Claims and Hidden Talents
Spektral Quartet

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:,,,,,,,,,,,

Opera: Wagner, Stockhausen, Braxton

Source: The New York Times.

In an interview, Kathinka Pasveer, one of Stockhausen’s partners and collaborators, and the musical director of “Aus Licht,” said that for him, “more and more, the music became the most important thing.”

That comfort with conceptual mystery as an organizing element has also had a strong influence on the American composer-saxophonist Anthony Braxton and his “Trillium” series of operas. When I interviewed Mr. Braxton earlier this year, he referred to Stockhausen as a hero, while also expressing his affection for Wagner. (By contrast, Ms. Pasveer said that the music of Wagner made Stockhausen “sick” — and that they once had to leave a performance of “Die Walküre,” after only 20 minutes.)

Ostrava Days 2019 Lineup

Source: Ostrava Center for New Music.

New and Experimental Music Institute and Festival
Institute >> August 12 – 31, 2019
Festival >> August 22 – 31, 2019
Ostrava, Czech Republic

The Ostrava Days Festival represents a unique opportunity to experience the uncompromising and authentic presentation of music of the 20th and 21st centuries!

Ostrava Days focuses on contemporary classical music, whether it be avant-garde, experimental, or otherwise challenging musical efforts. The Festival is preceded by the Institute, which gives young composers the possibility to work with world-famous figures of contemporary music for three weeks and be present at rehearsals of their own pieces. The Ostrava Days Festival presents many orchestral compositions to the public in world or Czech premieres. Woks are studied during the last two weeks in August by Ostravská banda, Ostrava New Orchestra, and the Canticum Ostrava choir, along with many top-class ensembles, soloists, and conductors.

* The Past/The Coming, the opening concert on August 22, is a double bill that will juxtapose the radical music composed by Terry Riley and Robert Ashley in 1964 with works by student-residents of the Ostrava Days Institute. The second part of the evening will also include works by two well-known Berlin composers, Steffi Weismann and Peter Ablinger.

* The Long Night, an 18 hour-marathon on August 23, will begin outdoors with Swiss artist Steffi Weismann directing German composer Dieter Schnebel’s Harley Davidson(2000) for nine Harley-Davidson riders and musical accompaniment, and will conclude on the banks of the river Ostravice with Theo Finkel’s site-specific work Super-Ostrawitza (2019). In between, more than 20 performances will take place in the newly reconstructed Jiří Myron Theatre, including Morton Feldman’s five-hour masterpiece, For Philip Guston, performed by the S.E.M Ensemble; a four-hour excerpt from Alvin Curran’s Inner Cities performed by pianist Daan Vandewalle; La Monte Young’s Composition 1960 #7 (1960) performed by ONO/Ostrava New Orchestra; Julius Eastman’s Crazy Nigger (1979) for four pianos; as well as works by Robert Ashley, Luciano Berio, Alois Hába, Petr Kotik, Horatiu Radulescu, and Elliott Sharp, among many others.

* On August 27, ONO/Ostrava New Orchestra, Ostravská banda, Canticum Ostrava and guests will join force under the direction of Petr Kotik to present the Czech premiere of conceptual artist Yves Klein’s Symphonie – Monotone-silence (1960).

* On August 28, Piano Piano Kudu will feature two world premieres – Frederic Rzewski’s 6 Movements (2019), featuring Rzewski on piano, and Alvin Curran’s Shofar Rags (2019), performed by Daan Vandewalle on piano, and Ostravská banda’s concertmaster Conrad Harris on violin.

* On August 29, the Montreal-based Quatuor Bozzini, returning to Ostrava Days after 10 years, will premiere Christian Wolff’s string quartet, Out of Kilter. The ensemble will also perform Music of the Spheres (1938) by the pioneering German-American composer Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888-1944), String Quartet No. 1 by Petr Kotik, and Commedia dell’arte II by Canadian-Serbian composer Ana Sokolović.

* The closing concert, Evening @ Opera on August 31, will feature the Prague Radio Symphonic Orchestra performing two operatic works – Morton Feldman’s Neither (libretto by Samuel Beckett), which can be viewed as a deconstruction of the opera form, and the world premiere of Czech composer Petr Bakla’s There is An Island Above the City. Both will be sung by German operatic soprano Claudia Barainsky.

* The popular Minimarathon of Electronic Music, curated by Petr Vrba in cooperation with Martin Klimeš and Bludný kámen, will return on August 24.

Upcoming Bowerbird Shows

Source: Philadelphia’s Bowerbird.

JUNE 13, 2019

Double Decker Music Series
JUNE 16, 2019

Daniel Fishkin, Cleek Schrey, Ron Shalom
JUNE 21, 2019

Double Decker Music Series
JULY 28, 2019

Double Decker Music Series
AUGUST 25, 2019