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Volume 11 Issue 10 - July 2006

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gave it to the man, who

gave it to the man, who thanked him and left. We said, "Do you know who he is?" And Stravinsky said "Yes, of course. I see him on television all the time". It was Frank Sinatra! I asked Carter whether he liked Sinatra. 'Sure - he had a beautiful voice. He was a good actor, too.' 'Bart6k was wonderful. I was about the only one in New York who gave his beautiful piece Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste a good review.' At that time, in the 1930's and 40's, Carter was regularly writing music criticism. 'Later, when I was teaching in Annapolis, Maryland, he played a two-piano concert in the Baltimore Museum with his young wife. Afterwards, at a very noisy party, Bart6k and I went to the back room to talk about his music. The hosts came in and asked him to play the piano. But the piano was right by an open window, so I said, "You had better play something loud, because otherwise no one will hear it". And he played the softest piece, From the Diary of a Fly [from Mikrokosmos vol. 6]. It was terribly sad - very funny, but sad. The idea of having Bart6k play where you couldn't hear him - they didn't realize this was a really great man.' Carter later wrote angrily that they should have saved Bart6k rather than Carnegie Hall. 'Composers don't produce anything physical. As a result, people spend lots of money on wonderful music halls but they don't spend much money on putting anything in them. That's a disaster in many ways.' Carter has written one opera, What's Next? 'Opera is so expensive to put on. I had the good fortune to be commissioned by Daniel Barenboim, so it was premiered at the Berlin Staatsoper, in a very elaborate production. I was in the hospital for six weeks with a very severe case of pneumonia. Every single day Barenboim would call up and say, "How's that opera coming?" So after a while I felt I really ought to write it. It's been performed some twenty times since, in concert, but never again as a stage production, although Levine is staging it at Tanglewood this summer.' 'There's a great deal of pressure on me to write a second opera. But I've decided not to do it. It takes a long time, it's a complicated operation, and the lack of staged performances of my previous opera makes me feel, "Why don't I just write instrumental music and not bother with this?" You have to have a good libretto. That's a lot of months of searching - with no music. I just don't want to go through that again. American operas nowadays are always about subjects everybody knows about. So often they come from novels, like The Great Gatsby. I didn't want to do that.' 'A number of my Juilliard students have gone back to older styles. Toby Picker's new opera just played at the Metropolitan Opera. It's rather well done, but it just seems to me pointless. John Harbison writes really very well, but I thought The Great Gatsby was thin. I don't know too much about young composers because I can't go to a lot of concerts. I have some difficulty in walking, and I need an awful lot of sleep to keep composing. But I'm certainly very interested. I like Boulez's music, and some of the English composers like Harry Birtwistle, Colin Matthews. and Olly Knussen. But I find a lot of the younger composers that I come across very disappointing.' Carter is notoriously unsympathetic towards minimalism, and especially the music of Steve Reich. It's something of an irony that Blackwell played in Reich's ensemble for ten years. 'I don't see how you lasted for one,' Carter says mischievously when Blackwell points that out to me. 'Repetition in music is like in advertising, with everything over and over and over again. I get it the first time. The second time, I come to not like it so much. The third time, no .... And if you repeat it four times it loses all its impact. Traditional composers did use repetition, but it was usually at a climax when they wanted to do something very important. Repetitive music is music that in my opinion is meant not to be paid attention to.' 'I feel my music encourages people to listen and pay attention. It's frightening to me to have audiences treated as if they couldn't pay attention. I realize there's some kind of trance people get into, but in a certain sense repetition just puts you to sleep, or something like that.' seem to come out of something and go back. That's one of the reasons why I don't use the unusual sounds many instruments can make - I 11 don't see how Leaving the Glenn Gould stage: Aitken and Carter you can bring with his manager, American clarinetist Virgil them in and Blackwell, who accompanies him on his travels lead them away. In a piece they're playing here tomorrow night called Mosaic the harp does peculiar things. I wrote the piece in memory of harpist Carlos Salzedo, who I knew long ago. He invented many of these techniques. It took a lot of thought to make them fit in and add to the piece. What's inventive about my music is the idea of continuity, which I've tried very hard to make interesting. Complexity takes a lot of thought. I'm very concerned about not merely how it fits into the piece, but how it will sound and how people can play it.' 'My third String Quartet is very, very difficult, with two different duos. Each one maintains a pretty strict rhythmic structure. The thing that's difficult is to combine the two of them because they don't correspond. At first it was done with a click track, with performers wearing headphones. But Bobby Mann with the Juilliard Quartet refused to do that. He wanted the spirit to come out, with the accuracy to be the best they could do.' At this point Carter's voice becomes noticeably emotional. 'That piece,' he says, 'is very, very interesting to me, and I'm very glad I wrote it. It is very difficult, but it's full of extraordinary things, I think - full of extraordinary ideas.' He pauses, then adds, Tm sorry - I shouldn't say that.' Blackwell walks me downstairs while Carter prepared to rest for the concert. Blackwell tells me about his travels with Carter and their ongoing recording projects. 'I travel everywhere with him. I've been doing it for quite a number of years now. He's having a good time. It's very interesting to go places like museums with him - he knows a great deal about art. He's a very sweet man, and it's a pleasure to be with him.' 'I promised his wife Helen I would do that. She said to me, "Take care of him. He doesn't know how to do anything. Watch out for him." She died three years ago.' 'Once when we were having dinner, he said, "Virgil, the way I see it, I start off with a mountain - of sounds, of ideas. I keep chiselling away at the mountain so it becomes smaller, more concentrated and more clear. I synthesize and I get rid of all the stuff that's not important. " Elliott doesn't fully know what he has accomplished, but I think he has done that.' * * * The concert of Carter's works presented by New Music Concerts at the Glenn Gould Studio will be broadcast in September on Two New Hours, heard Sunday nights at 10:00pm on CBC Radio. Two collections of Carter's writings on music have been published: The Writings of Elliott Carter, edited by Else and Kurt Stone (Indiana University Press, 1977), and Elliott Carter: Collected Essays and Lectures, 1937 - 1995 edited by Jonathan W. Bernard (U niversity of Rochester Press 1997). The Music of Elliott Carter by David Schiff (Cornell University Press, 2nd edition 1998) offers a study of his music and some biographical material. Many of Carter's works are readily available on recordings. 14 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM ) u L v 1 - SEPTEMB ER 7 2006 Back to Ad Index u :::) 0 u.J _J u.J c:,: 0 z

One to Watch MARIMBIST ANNE-JULIE CARON Only 26 years of age, Anne-Julie Caron has already made a name for herself in the percussion world, both in Canada and abroad. Winner of numerous awards, her most recent victory was in November of 2005 when she won first prize in the percussion category of the Montreal Symphony Anne-Julie Caron Standard Life Competition, also claiming the prizes for best interpretation of a Canadian work (David Jaeger's "Lyrics" for marimba), best interpretation of a work of any style (Minoru Miki's "Time" for marimba), the Banff Centre Prize, and the Montreal Symphony Prize, performing with the orchestra shortly thereafter. Prior to this, in 2004 she won the prestigious Prix d'Europe (sponsored by the Quebec Ministry of Culture & Communications). Originally from Saint-Romuald Quebec, Anne-Julie studied piano for 7 years before enrolling at the Conservatoire de Musique de Quebec at the age of 14, where she studied marimba with Carol Lemieux. She graduated in 2003 with Grand Distinction and a score of 99% on her final recital, the highest mark ever given to a percussionist in Quebec conservatory history! She then went on to study in Boston with Nancy Zeltsman, in whose Marimba Festival she has performed as a showcase artist along with French percussionist and composer Emmanuel Sejourne. She has also attended masterclasses with some of the finest artists both here and abroad. In January 2006, at the invitation of music director Yoav Talmi, Anne-Julie appeared as soloist with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, performing Paul Creston's Concertina for Marimba and Orchestra, and a marimba version of Saint Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso. She continues to perform as an extra in the percussion section there and in other Quebec orchestras. In April, she gave a masterclass and three concerts at the Festival Internacionale de Marimbistas, in Chiapas, Mexico, and will give masterclasses at the University of Toronto and Indiana University this fall. Future plans also include a three week stint at Banff, and a concert fo r Les Jeunesses Musicales. You can catch her this summer at several music festivals. She'll be performing at Festival de Lanaudiere on July 27, with pianist Akiko Tominaga, in a programme featuring works by Keiko Abe, J.S. Bach, Sejourne , Jaeger, Miyake, Metheny, Creston, Piazzo lla and Saint Saens; at Toronto's Music Garden on July 30 (Bach to ragtime and more); Westben Concerts at the Barn on August 1, and at the Prairie Debut Showcase, October 26-28. Karen Ages j ULY 1 - SEPTEMBER 7 2 006 Back to Ad Index

Volume 26 (2020- )

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