Liebeslied Afterglow

The Liebeslied premiere went extremely well! Mellissa was great as always, and ACO was wonderful to work with; they put the piece together incredibly quickly, and when they had to rewrite my first-person bio in third person, they were careful to avoid gender-specific pronouns. (If you’re reading this and don’t know why I want to avoid gender-specific pronouns — it’s a long story, but here’s a pretty good starting place.) It’s nice to feel “taken care of” for once, after so many DIY concerts at small venues and universities. Even the accidental disruption during the performance — a repeated clanking noise, apparently, from someone’s phone backstage — fit the mood of the piece so well that a lot of people I talked to thought it was intentional.

Both during the rehearsals and after the concert, people kept saying that the piece reminded them of David Lynch, which I count as a success — I actually had the “Club Silencio” scene from Mulholland Dr. in mind when I wrote the opening trumpet solo! I wasn’t 100% sure that the spoken section would work dramatically until I heard it done with a real sound system during the dress rehearsal, but it did; it certainly didn’t hurt that Mellissa sounded genuinely frightened when she described that strange, overcrowded party in an old hotel.

So far I’ve found four five reviews online, from reviewers that range from high-profile to anonymous:
Anthony Tommasini, writing in the New York Times, called the piece “imaginative” and “bracincly contemporary.”
Harry Rolnick at Concertonet wrote an absolutely gushing review, praising my “originality,” “fearless language” and “genuinely original voice.”
– Blogger Rob Wendt has a wonderful description of that opening trumpet solo — “one sees a trench-coated gumshoe smoking under a neon sign, steam rising through a nearby manhole cover” — although he found the piece “somewhat obvious.”
– Someone going by the name of BirthdayBoy!!!(^_^) on a messageboard called Musikchan found the electronics unnecessary and suspected that I was trying too hard to be “out of the box”; still, it’s always fun to hear a concert piece compared to an industrial band.
Edit, 10.19.11: found another one! Alex Ross describes the piece as “something quite amazing.” I have to say it’s bizarre to be getting all this praise all of a sudden!

I’m intrigued by this comment in Tommasini’s review:
“From just the opening concert I am not ready to venture an overall impression about the state of music in the 21st century. Still, one theme did emerge. Young composers today, born after the stylistic battles that stultified creativity during the 1960s and 1970s, exude independence and feel entitled to draw from, borrow, use (or abuse) any style of contemporary music that interests them.”
That seems right-on to me. At some point I want to write something here about what it means to write “21st century music,” and about my relationship to musical styles of past eras, which I often use as springboards or reference points in my own work. But I’ll save it for another time.

I believe Liebeslied is going to be webcast on WQXR’s new-music stream Q2 this week. Watch this spot for more details.