Alan Berman, Guitarist

Recent Concerts

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

Early/Late: Uncommon Music for Voices and Guitars

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

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Tunes" lute-song cycle by John Danyel from 1606, an obscure 1938 Shakespeare setting by Elliott Carter, and an unpublished set of three songs by the singular composer/pianist/new music pioneer Richard Bunger-Evans.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