Just between you and me: Anthony Braxton’s Trillium J is the future classic

On April 19, having rushed to Roulette leaving behind the last minutes of an international Sound and Affect conference in order to experience Anthony Braxton’s Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables), at first I could not stop thinking: how does this performance affect me and why? And – “whose are these emotions?” – as Deniz Peters questioned earlier that day.

I fail to describe my feelings having never experienced anything like this before. Perhaps one could compare Trillium J to Richard Foreman’s plays in the way it captures the absurd, the unexpectedness and ambiguity of contemporary world. Weave these into the voices of 12 vocalists and the sounds of 12 instrumental soloists with full orchestra, excellent acting, pseudo-philosophical digressions, visual projections, young skipping-rope Jazzy Jumpers and two of New York’s best contemporary dance improvisers Rachel Bernsen and Melanie Maar, and you get the mix.

I could not at any single moment recognize what exactly (music, words, acting, etc.) made me smile in a very strange way – the smile that sometimes comes from experiencing the misfortunes of Daniil Harms’s characters. This is perhaps the genius of a gesamtkunstwerk artist (Braxton wrote both the music and the libretto) – to blend all the media so naturally that a spectator cannot recognize the source.

How does the absurd feel?

As an interlude before the Second Scene of Act IV, Jazzy Jumpers entered with their skipping-ropes and the choir started improvising “random” sounds to their movements. I sensed tears in my eyes, obviously neither out of sadness or joy. What catalyzed the sublime was (perhaps?) the excitement that something so contemporary and so musically apt was composed –the genre of opera has a future – at least it definitely a present.
But the climax was still to come. The interlude could either feel like just another meaningful nonsense – the ridiculousness that was so fittingly at the wrong place, – or depict a stratum of society to be juxtaposed with the final scene – the trial of Sally Wanton.

Despite the obvious references to social injustices of American society, Ms Walton reminded me of Vladimir Putin in her ability to pour complete nonsense and reject obvious evidence of crime with complete confidence (as well as accept it and immediately render crucial statements trifle). This is where, perhaps, “the concept of affinity,” the opera’s major theme, lies. Everyone walked out with a radiant face – those who thought of multiple possibilities of political connotations, or those who just took “the poetic transiency” and “undefinition that seeks its own level” as a flow of beautiful nonsense.

George Crumb once said that he was “frightened of a possibility to write an opera, nothing comes close to Wozzeck.” Whether you agreed with that or not in the past, you would definitely have to consider replacing Wozzeck with The Non-Unconfessionables.  Should 21st century opera, and music for that matter, only be political? It is not always this or that, it is often the other.

Erlena Dlu

©2014 by Extended Techniques. All Rights Reserved.

NYC Calendar: April 2014

Highlights of the month: JACK Quartet residency at the Stone, Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Series at Roulette and David Lung’s collected stories at Carnegie Hall

FRIDAY, April 4
8 PM JACK Quartet and Joshua Roman
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: music by Jefferson Friedman, Carlo Gesualdo, and John Luther Adams
Chris Otto (violin) Ari Streisfeld (violin) John Pickford Richards (viola) Kevin McFarland (cello) Joshua Roman (cello)
ADMISSION: $15

FRIDAY, April 4
10 PM JACK Quartet performing music by John Zorn
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Chris Otto (violin) Ari Streisfeld (violin) John Pickford Richards (viola) Kevin McFarland (cello)
ADMISSION: $15

SATURDAY, April 5
9:30 PM Dollshot: New Art Songs
VENUE: Spectrum
DETAILS:  Dollshot performs new art songs inspired by Lyonel Feininger, Clarice Lispector, and Franz Schubert. We’ve enjoyed performances at (le) Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Galapagos Art Space, and WNYC’s The Greene Space. The band features Rosalie Kaplan (voice); Noah Kaplan (saxophones); Wes Matthews (keyboard); Peter Bitenc (bass); and Mike Pride (drums).
ADMISSION: $10-15

SATURDAY, April 5
10 PM JACK Quartet, Jay Campbell, David Fulmer, and Stephen Gosling performing music by John Zorn
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Chris Otto (violin) Ari Streisfeld (violin) John Pickford Richards (viola) Kevin McFarland (cello) Jay Campbell (cello) David Fulmer (violin) Stephen Gosling (piano)
ADMISSION: $15

SUNDAY, APRIL 6
6:00PM Bocian Showcase: Paal Nilssen-Love & Robert Piotrowicz / James Rushford & Joe Talia / Kapital

VENUE: Issue Project Room
DETAILS: http://issueprojectroom.org/event/unsound-bocian-showcase
ADMISSION: $12-$15

WEDNESDAY, April 9
8 PM Kenny Wollesen
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: As part of a month long celebration of William Burroughs in the East Village, The Stone presents a special two week program of music, film and poetry inspired by and/or dedicated to the work of this radical American genius.
ADMISSION: $15

THURSDAY, April 10
10 PM Anthony Coleman
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS:  Anthony Coleman (piano)
ADMISSION: $15

FRIDAY, April 11
8 PM  INTERZONE—Raha Raissnia and John Zorn
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Raha Raissnia (film, projections). Raha performs live visuals to John Zorn’s Burroughs tribute INTERZONE
ADMISSION: $15

FRIDAY, April 11
7:30 PM Jane Sheldon performs Feldman’s “Three Voices”
VENUE: Spectrum
DETAILS: http://janesheldonsoprano.com/
ADMISSION: $10-15

FRIDAY, April 11
7:30 PM Quartet for the End of Time
VENUE: Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, Starr Theater, Adrienne Arsht Stage
DETAILS:
Jalbert Visual Abstract for Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano, and Percussion (2002)
Carter Esprit rude/esprit doux II for Flute, Clarinet, and Marimba (1995)
Widmann Fantasie for Clarinet (1993)
Rautavaara Variations for Five, Quintet No. 2 for Two Violins, Viola, and Two Cellos (2013) (CMS Co-Commission, New York Premiere)
Messiaen Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time) for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano (1940-41)

http://lc.lincolncenter.org/shows/208004?show_date=2014-04-11

ADMISSION: $30-$62

SATURDAY, April 12
8:00 PM The Tri-Centric Presenting Series: Anthony Braxton’s Falling River Music Nonet plus the Fay Victor Ensemble

VENUE: Roulette
DETAILS:
Fay Victor- Neighborhood Dynamics
Anthony Braxton – Falling River Music Nonet

http://roulette.org/events/the-tri-centric-presenting-series-anthony-braxtons-falling-river-music-nonet-plus-the-fay-victor-ensemble/

ADMISSION: $15-20

SATURDAY, April 12
8:00PM  Tim Berne & Michael Formanek play Greenwich House Music School
VENUE: Greenwich House Music School
DETAILS: Saxophonist Tim Berne & bassist Michael Formanek – Two Avant-Jazz Titans – Revive Their Head-to-Head Relationship with a Duo Concert.

https://www.facebook.com/events/600277956714785/

ADMISSION: $15

WEDNESDAY, April 16
9:30 PM The Good, The Holy, and The Ugly
VENUE: Spectrum
DETAILS: Jocelyn Ho, piano, Chris Pidcock, cello
Music by Kaija Saariaho, Anna Clyne, Olga Neuwirth, Arvo Part, Mauricio Kagel, Giacinto Scelsi, and Kapustin. Jocelyn will also be presenting her composition “Torus”
ADMISSION: $10-15

THURSDAY, April 17-SATURDAY, April 19
8:00 PM Anthony Braxton’s Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables)
VENUE: Roulette
DETAILS:
Anthony Braxton conducts his latest four-act opera, Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables), in semi-staged, multi-media concerts featuring a cast of 12 vocalists, 12 instrumental soloists, and full orchestra.

http://roulette.org/events/anthony-braxtons-trillium-j-the-non-unconfessionables-acts-i-ii/

http://roulette.org/events/anthony-braxtons-trillium-j-the-non-unconfessionables-acts-iii-iv/

ADMISSION: $20-35

FRIDAY, April 18
8:00 PM Storylines: The Music of Alfred Schnittke and Avner Finberg
VENUE: The Firehouse Space
DETAILS: http://thefirehousespace.org/event/eunbi-kim/
ADMISSION: $10

FRIDAY, April 18
8:30 PM Travis Laplante Residency

VENUE: iBeam Brooklyn
DETAILS: Record Release Event, Ancestral Instrument
Travis Laplante- Tenor Saxophone
Mary Halvorson- Guitar
Trevor Dunn- Bass
Ches Smith- Drums
ADMISSION: $15 Suggested Donation

SATURDAY, April 19
8 PM John Zorn and Bill Laswell Duo
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: John Zorn (sax) Bill Laswell (bass)
ADMISSION: $20

SATURDAY, April 19
10 PM Bill Laswell and Wadada Leo Smith
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Bill Laswell (bass) Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet)
ADMISSION: $20

SUNDAY, April 20
1 PM Neue Vocalsolisten: American Premieres

VENUE: The Kitchen
DETAILS:
Georges Aperghis: Vittriool (2001)
Silvia Rosani: T-O (2013)
Brahim Kerkour: intone (2013)
Zaid Jabri: Two Songs from Mihyar from Damascus (2013)
Francesco Filidei: Dormo molto amore (2013)
Gabriel Dharmoo: Notre Meute (2013)
Lars Petter Hagen: The Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart Notebook (2011)
Jennifer Walshe: Paddy Reilly Runs with the Devil (2007)

http://www.thekitchen.org/event/mata-16th-annual-festival-of-new-music

ADMISSION: $20

TUESDAY, April 22
6 PM  collected stories: hero

VENUE: Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hal
DETAILS:  Benjamin Bagby, Scenes from Beowulf
Harry Partch, The Wayward
• “Barstow”
• “San Francisco”
• “The Letter”
• “U.S. Highball”

http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/4/22/0600/PM/-collected-stories-hero/

ADMISSION: $10 – $40

WEDNESDAY, April 23
6 PM collected stories: spirit
VENUE: Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hal
DETAILS: Tuvan Throat Singing, ARVO PÄRT Passio
The otherworldly throat singing group Huun-Huur-Tu creates overtones, hymns, and chants that defy conceived limitations of the human voice, while offering audiences a glimpse into the remote region. Their astonishing exploration of spiritualism is juxtaposed with Arvo Pärt’s meditative and mystic Passio, a contemporary setting of the gospel according to St. John.

http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/4/23/0600/PM/-collected-stories-spirit/

ADMISSION: $10 – $40

WEDNESDAY, April 23
10:30 PM  Made To Break
VENUE: LPR
DETAILS: Ken Vandermark , Tim Daisy , Devin Hoff , Christof Kurzmann , and Nate Wooley

http://www.lepoissonrouge.com/lpr_events/made-to-break-april-23rd-2014/

ADMISSION: $15, free for members

THURSDAY, April 24
8:00 PM [INTERPRETATIONS] Tom Hamilton// Ned Rothenberg’s Inner Diaspora
VENUE: Roulette
DETAILS:  Ned Rothenberg’s Inner Diaspora features Mark Feldman, violin; Erik Friedlander, cello; Jerome Harris, acoustic bass guitar & guitar; Samir Chatterjee, tabla; & Rothenberg on clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax & shakuhachi.

http://roulette.org/events/interpretations-hamilton-rothenberg/

ADMISSION: $10-15

THURSDAY, April 24
6 PM collected stories: love/loss
VENUE: Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hal
DETAILS: TRADITIONAL “Cruel Sister”, JULIA WOLFE Cruel Sister, NICO MUHLY The Only Tune

http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/4/24/0600/PM/-collected-stories-love/loss/

ADMISSION: $10 – $40

SUNDAY, April 27
4:00 PM Neighborhood Concert: JACK Quartet
VENUE: Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library
DETAILS:
JOHN ZORN Cat o’ Nine Tails
HANS ABRAHAMSEN String Quartet No. 4
FELDMAN Structures for String Quartet
LUTOSŁAWSKI String Quartet

http://www.carnegiehall.org/Calendar/2014/4/27/0400/PM/Neighborhood-Concert-JACK-Quartet/

ADMISSION: free

MONDAY, April 28
8 and 10 PM Jon Madof’s Zion80 plays John Zorn’s Book of Angels
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Jon Madof (guitar, conductor) Matt Darriau (alto sax) Greg Wall (tenor sax) Frank London (trumpet) Jessica Lurie (bari sax, flute) Zach Mayer (bari sax) Yoshie Fruchter (guitar) Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (bass) Brian Marsella (keyboard) Marlon Sobol (percussion) Yuval Lion (drums)
ADMISSION: $15

TUESDAY, April 29
10 PM Sylvie Courvoisier, Ha-Yang Kim and Annie Gosfield
VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) Ha-Yang Kim (cello) Annie Gosfield (sampling keyboard). A reprise of this improvising trio, with Gosfield performing “ghost electronics,” a phantom electric bridge drawn from her extensive collection of altered cello and piano sounds.
ADMISSION: $15

TUESDAY, April 29
6 PM collected stories: memoir
VENUE: Carnegie Hall, Zankel Hal
DETAILS:
John Cage – Indeterminacy, 27’10.554″ for a Percussionist, Fontana Mix
David Lang – mystery sonatas (World Premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
ADMISSION: $10 – $40

WEDNESDAY, April 30
8 PM Kathleen Supové, MIVOS Quartet, Olivia De Prato

VENUE: The Stone
DETAILS: Kathleen Supové (piano) MIVOS Quartet: Olivia De Prato and Joshua Modney (violins) Victor Lowrie (viola) Mariel Roberts (cello). Kathleen Supové performs “Shattered Apparitions of the Western Wind.” Imagined as a hallucinatory duet with Claude Debussy, it couples Supové’s wild playing with distorted fragments of the prelude “What the West Wind Saw”, on site recordings of Hurricane Sandy, and lush Debussy harmonies. MIVOS quartet plays “The Blue Horse Walks on the Horizon,” inspired by codes used by resistance groups in WWII, and Olivia dePrato performs a piece for violin and satellites.
ADMISSION: $15