Alan Berman, Guitarist

Recent Concerts

Guitaria: Love and Heartbreak

May 17th, 2014, 8 p.m.

GuitAria flyer May 17, 2014.

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Tunes" lute-song cycle by John Danyel from 1606, an obscure 1938 Shakespeare setting by Elliott Carter, and an unpublished set of three songs by the singular composer/pianist/new music pioneer Richard Bunger-Evans.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