The Callithumpian Blog

Closing Notes on SICPP (+ photos!)

In reviews, SICPP on July 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm

11-hr Iditarod proof. Photo by Elaine Rombola.

Because, in the end, eleven hours wasn’t all that bad—the sheer bulk of time encouraging a get-comfortable attitude that made every piece feel a little more generous than it might on a regular concert… SICPP and its audience is, by definition, a like-minded bunch on at least a basic musical level. But, as in Cage’s music, and Wolff’s music, and the Iditarod itself, it’s the chaos of agreement that’s so much fun.” — Matthew Guerrieri

Many thanks to Matthew Guerrieri, who stayed for all 11+ hours of the Iditarod this year and wrote this heart-felt, lovely review on NewMusicBox, noting every piece from Cartridge Music (4:00 pm) to Concert for Piano and Orchestra with Aria (around 3:00 am).  Read the complete review here.

We began the week of concerts with an all-pianist fest on Sunday afternoon, June 17 in Jordan Hall: Christian Wolff’s Sonata (for three pianos), performed by Stephen Drury, Steffen Schleiermacher, and Yukiko Takagi, sandwiched by John Cage’s Winter Music, performed by Louis Goldstein, Joseph Kubera, and Schleiermacher, and Music of Changes, performed by Joseph Kubera — who, according to Boston Globe’s Matthew Guerrieri, “more than met the challenge”.  The full Globe review can be read here.

Monday evening’s program consisted of the world premiere of Christian Wolff’s Overture (performed by Callithumpian Consort), as well as Wolff’s Hay una mujer desaparecida (performed by Stephen Drury), Cage’s Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (with Yukiko Takagi on prepared piano), and Cage’s Music for Seventeen (performed by Callithumpian Consort).  Wolff’s Overture, comprised of smaller, intertwining subsets within a larger ensemble, culminated in the much larger picture of a greater aural collage: a refreshing angle, which some modernists may see as only separated, trite conversations.  In Cage’s Music for Seventeen (or for any number of players, up to 17), each performer has his / her own score and timer — very much like musicians in a Merce Cunningham performance — and performs on his / her own, as there is no universal score.  Callithumpian Consort, spatialized across the entire stage (with Stephen Drury and Yukiko Takagi bowing the pianos in large motions, Drury at stage left, Takagi at stage right), became a visual system: a fascinating and (depending on the individual) challenging experience to breathe in.  David Patterson of the Boston Musical Intelligencer noted Yukiko Takagi’s performance in the Concerto as “graceful” and “highly sensitized”, and that “…the silences as well as the sounds were perfectly — can I say, harmoniously — delivered seriatim.”

Tuesday’s concert, Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts (performed by Gabriela Diaz, Ethan Wood, Karina Fox, and Benjamin Schwartz) and the complete Sonatas and Interludes (performed by the one and only Louis Goldstein), was clearly the melt-in-your-mouth program of the week.  Of the Quartet, Fred Bouchard of the Boston Musical Intelligencer writes that the performers were “equals in adept phrasing and observing Cage’s deft conceptual flow.”  Bouchard describes the Sonatas and Interludes as “Cage’s microcosm of eternity… As Goldstein gently unrolled and rerolled Cage’s universal scrolls, he stopped the clock, left us calmly ecstatic, with a transcendent glimpse into a quizzical afterlife.”  Read the complete review here.

Jessi Rosinski and Ethan Wood gave a terrific and thrilling performance of Nicholas Vines’s Obsidian Magnified on Wednesday evening, then followed by a well-framed, approximately 31 minutes of simultaneous Cage music played by champion performers Steffen Schleiermacher (31’57.9864″ for a pianist), Karina Fox (26’1.1499″ for a string player), and Scott Deal (27’10.554″ for a percussionist).  The program rounded off with the Callithumpian Consort performing Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together / Attica: the first, a driving build-up of energy, followed by the much slower and calmer Attica, with David Prum and Paul Howe as the narrators conveying the spectrum of energy.

Steffen Schleiermacher gave an incredible solo piano recital of the New York and Darmstadt avant-garde in Jordan Hall on Thursday; if you missed it, you’d be lucky to have his CDs in your hands, full listings of which you can find here.  Earlier on Thursday was the SICPP / Boston GuitarFest concert at the Fenway Center, at which Jeremy Eichler of the Boston Globe noted the “unflappability” of the musicians, especially in Philip Glass’s Music in Fifths.  On Friday in Brown Hall was the anticipated (and delayed) world premiere of Alvin Lucier’s Braid, a beautifully-threaded piece with patterned layers of microtonal beatings, performed exquisitely by Callithumpian Consort.  The evening then shifted gears to an amazing, full staging of Christian Wolff’s The Exception and the Rule (play by Bertolt Brecht) with Jennifer Ashe, Brian Church, Paul Howe, David Prum, Wesley Ray Thomas, and Callithumpian, wrapping up the night.

Phew!  And then of course was the aforementioned, 11+hr Iditarod, with every piece mentioned in this stellar review by Matthew Guerrieri.  What a week.  Happy 100th, John!  The way we listen continues to change…

It was wonderful to have you as a part of this special week: the 2012 SICPPies, Christian Wolff, Stephen Drury, Louis Goldstein, Joseph Kubera, Steffen Schleiermacher, Tanya Blaich, Scott Deal, John Mallia, Yukiko Takagi, Nicholas Vines, Callithumpian Consort, Aaron Likness, Dave Tarantino, Michael Unterman, Ryan Krause, Corey Schreppel, Alex Hug, Perry Johnson, Marie von Kampen, Lisa Nigris, Aaron Dana, Bob Winters, Richard Feit, Ching Yeo, and finally, our very own wonderful program director, Elaine Rombola.  Thank you!

Photos can be found at the SICPP 2012 Flickr set, and we’re always looking for more — if you have some photos you’d like to share, feel free to send them on over to and we’ll put them up (and credit you, of course).

Signing off with Stephen Drury’s words: “Remember us in your wills, and enjoy the noise.”

until next time,


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