Alan Duff Berman, Guitarist

Recent Concerts

Music for Choir and Guitar

Tuesday, 14 October 2014, 7 p.m.

Concert Hall at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts
450 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

My friend and colleague, the extravagantly talented singer, conductor, and educator Desiree Fowler. did her master's recital in choral conducting, and (fortunately for me) her thesis was about plucked instruments with choir. Most of the works on this program involve the guitar, with the exception of Gustav Holst's gorgeous Hymns from the Rig Veda, which uses harp. Here's the program, which covers a span of four hundred years. The choir comprised professional singers and advanced vocal students attending our school; several guitar students were also featured. I was the guitarist for the Schubert, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, and the remarkable 1980 work by Marlos Nobre, which is an homage to the Yanomani tribe. It is one of the most thrilling pieces of music I've ever played and may be the best demonstration of effective writing for this very unusual combination of voices with guitar.

unSung: Songs Uncommon and New

Saturday, 17 August 2014, 6 p.m.

Saint Mark's Episcopal Church
1020 North Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91202

I was thrilled to present my E. E. Cummings love song cycle, The Syntax of Things, in its entirety for the first time on this prestigious series produced by southern California vocal maven Lauri Goldenhersh and LaurisList.com. unSung is an exceptional series dedicated to the performance of unusual vocal music, and I am honored to have my songs included in the concert with songs by a host of established composers, including Diane Lindsay, David Avshalomov, Steven Snowden, and Mark Abel.

The cycle was written for and dedicated to Los Angeles conductor, pianist, and vocalist Alexandra Grabarchuk, with whom I've been lucky enough to perform several times in the last few years. She suggested the poems and I wrote settings for voice and guitar. Here are links to the poems in the cycle:

Guitaria: Love and Heartbreak

May 17th, 2014, 8 p.m.

I was a guest artist on this program of ancient and contemporary songs performed by the extraordinary singer Alexandra Grabarchuk and my long-time guitar partner Peter Yates, who is a composer of unique, sometimes bizarre, always engaging music. I performed two songs from a cycle of E. E. Cummings poems I'm setting for Alexandra. The poems are here:

since feeling is first

i like my body when it is with your

Alex and I will be premiering the entire cycle of Cummings poems on the UnSung series in Glendale August 17, 2014—I'll be writing four more songs by then!

Saturday evening, 17 May 2014, 8 p.m.

Featuring vocalist Alexandra Grabarchuk and guitarist/vocalist/arpeggionist Peter Yates, along with Ensemble Fret and Alan Duff Berman

Early/Late: Uncommon Music for Voices and Guitars

Two performances of (almost) the same program: June 2 and 15th, 2013

Julia Callander, vocals Alexandra Grabarchuk, vocals Walter Marsh, guitar Peter Yates, guitar Alan Berman, guitar
Julia Callander Alexandra Grabarchuk Walter Marsh Peter Yates Alan Berman

I designed this program of songs after having heard several performances by Alexandra Grabarchuk, one of which included Julia Callander. These vocalists, with their uncanny awareness of how to hear and respond to the guitar's subtleties, led me to transcribe several of the works on the program and to locate other pieces originally written for voice and guitar. Since the songs are performed so rarely (with their original accompaniments or otherwise), the audience and performers experience them as new, whether written in the fourteenth century or the twenty-first.

Highlights include the remarkable "Chromatic Tunes" lute-song cycle by John Danyel from 1606, an obscure 1938 Shakespeare setting by Elliott Carter, and an unpublished set of three songs by the singular composer/pianist/new music pioneer Richard Bunger-Evans.

Also: songs by Alexander Zemlinsky, with words by Langston Hughes from the 1929 German collection of Harlem Renaissance poets Afrika Singt. A complex ditty by Charles Ives in two different meters at the same time. Igor Stravinsky's 1919 collection of silly Russian songs (sung in Russian and English). Two patient works by Erik Satie from 1886 (pre-dating his famous Gymnopedies). Contemporary David Cope's set of five concentrated haiku songs. Henry Cowell's gorgeous "Firelight and Lamp," with lyrics from frequent New Yorker contributor Gene Baro. Guillaume de Machaut, the 14th-century poet/composer who influenced Chaucer and who wrote the first mass, has the last words with a stunning piece on mythological figures, following the Medieval propensity of having both lyrics sung simultaneously (printed copies will be provided for those keeping track).

The June 2nd program includes excerpts from the 2013 song cycle Peter Yates wrote for Alexandra, One Step outside This Gazebo, and John Cage's "The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs" with text by James Joyce. The June 15th program includes an exquisite instrumental for two guitars on themes of Machaut by Soulima Stravinsky (son of Igor).

Alan Berman

Sunday afternoon, 2 June 2013, 2 p.m.
UCLA Organ Studio, Schoenberg Hall

With vocalists Alexandra Grabarchuk and Julia Callander; guitarists Peter Yates and Alan Berman.

Saturday evening, 15 June 2013, 7 p.m.
Glendale Public Library Auditorium

With vocalists Alexandra Grabarchuk and Julia Callander; guitarists Walter Marsh and Alan Berman.