BACHMy Die Freudenkrone: Ehrerbietung zu J.S. Bach for Choir, Organ and Timpani will be performed August 29 at the Riga’s Dome Cathedral by the choir Intis (directed by Ilze Valce), percussionist Normunds Everts and organist Lotars Džeriņš as part of a larger, 7-concert series in the three Latvian cities of Riga, Liepaja and Jurmala devoted to the music of JS Bach and music inspired by him. Commissioned by the City of Liepāja for organist Lotars Džeriņš to premiere at the VI International Organ Music Festival in Liepāja, Latvia in 2007, the title of this work translates to The Crown of Joy: Homage to J.S. Bach. The title derives from the text from the chorale movement (verse six) of Bach’s Cantata BMV 103. For this piece, I used that chorale melody (with my own harmonization), along with fragments taken from his toccata and fugue in D dorian (BMV 538).
The program for the entire concert series (in Latvian) was uploaded here:


white_house_oThe new documentary film about one of the most unique venues in Orlando will receive it’s premiere screening at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 23rd and 24th.

Benoit Glazer and his wife built a concert hall in their Orlando home to share unique experiences of music and art with everyone.
Montréal-born Benoit Glazer has been making music professionally since 1981. He is a trumpet player, arranger and a conductor for Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba in Orlando, Florida. His love for music runs deep, so deep, in 2007 he and his wife built a concert hall in their house. Just about every Sunday night strangers (who become friends) gather in their living room to share a unique experience of music and art. Admission is a dish, snacks or a bottle of wine. They’ve hosted over 400 concerts, musicians from 24 countries along with 300 artists. The Timucua white house is quickly becoming a cultural icon in Orlando.
Production Team
Director : Steve Radley
Screenwriter : Steve Radley
Cinematographer : Steve Radley
Editor : Steve Radley
Film production and Sales : Prod.: Steve Radley, Restless Realm Films, 1135 Summerlin Ave. Orlando, Floride (États-Unis), tél.: 407-758-0268,
Steve Radley graduated in communications from the University of Wisconsin. He has produced and directed short video web vignettes for various companies.
Saturday August 23, 2014 – 12:40 PM – CINÉMA QUARTIER LATIN 15
Saturday August 23, 2014 – 07:30 PM – CINÉMA QUARTIER LATIN 15
Sunday August 24, 2014 – 04:40 PM – CINÉMA QUARTIER LATIN 15

The documentary opens and closes with excerpts from my string quartet, Set Fire to Have Light, which was performed at the White House during the time the documentary was being filmed in May 2013.


Cervantes_MonarcaAs part of her tour to promote an upcoming CD release, pianist Ana Cervantes will give the Columbia premiere of my …like water dashed from flowers…, a piece that borrows elements from the folkloric song La Zandunga and Nahuatl poetry translated into Spanish. The piece is somewhat demanding and includes aspects of ritual and song, where the pianist is asked at times to recite text, sing, play a rattle, stomp her foot (wearing ankle bells), or utilize other extended techniques, often while playing the piano at the same time. Other composers on the program include Anne LeBaron (USA), Georgina Derbez, Gabriela Ortiz, and Mario Lavista (México), Alba Potes (Colombia), Silvia Cabrera Berg (Brazil), Horacio Uribe (México) and Tomás Marco (Spain).

Ana premiered the piece at the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico last year. This performance will take place at El Teatro Mayor on November 30 at 8PM in Bogotá, Colombia.

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The best of Central Florida’s contemporary classical music was highlighted on Sunday evening with passion and style. The location: Benoit Glazer’s downtown Orlando home, also known as ‘Timucua White House,’ where leading avant-garde, jazz and contemporary classical music acts from around the country perform almost every weekend to small, though dedicated circles of followers who have helped turned the Glazer home auditorium into a shrine of sorts for this rather esoteric kind of performing arts scene.

But it need not always be that way, since the audience for new classical music in Orlando is on the rise — virtually every seat in the house was taken — and organizations that promote and foster this kind of music in the area certainly exist. The concert was presented by the Central Florida Composers Forum, and performed by the string quartet from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. With a program made solely of pieces by eight local composers, all in attendance, and the talented quartet from Orlando’s premier orchestra, this was truly a celebration of local talent unlike anything else done before.

Glazer’s piece The Eve of Evil — a dark, yet deeply touching foreboding of the war with the Middle East that followed the September 11 attacks — had the Cirque du Soleil musician join the quartet on trumpet. The augmented ensemble also featured his children Camille and Jean-Marie, on cello and viola, respectively, and wife Élaine Corriveau on piano. The composition includes dissonant passages intermingled with touching triadic bliss. The structure consists of repetition of the main segments, underlining the contrast between them. The composer employs jazz elements, fugal passages and a clear homage to Le Sacre du printemps, toward the end.

“There’s a bit of rock and roll, a bit of Bartók and a lot of chickens,” said Danny McIntyre of his Dance of the Fearless Chickens. The piece was an inviting change of mood, with clucking and rolling from a quartet that seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience.

Full Sail’s Keith Lay presented the still unborn about the dead, for soprano, piano and quartet. Lay’s composition finds beauty in a somber mood and succeeds exceedingly at that. Soprano Julie Batman helped to beat the time while carefully belting the words by Nichita Stanescu, with piano accompaniment by Jamila Tekalli.

Also from Full Sail, composer Tim Stulman introduced his piece Two Tigers, Two Mice and a Strawberry, a saxophone arrangement of which was performed a week prior by the all-saxophone h2 quartet. With his programmatic Tracks of the North Woods, Eric Brook sought to paint a musical picture of an outdoor scene, with thrills along the way.

One of the best pieces featured was Karen Van Duyne’s For Four Strings. The functional simplicity of the title belies the scope of the music and imagination of the lone female composer of the event. The exciting piece, influence by Elliot Carter, strays from conventional harmony and finds peace, order and beauty in an unusual sound world. Each of the four strings has a clearly defined line and plays a role along the piece, with the viola representing a kind of longing or searching for something elusive. It is frequently interrupted by the other instruments, though, and struggles to find serenity until the composition comes to a close.

Thad Anderson’s piece for quartet and electronics Through-Line provided another interesting change of pace. Anderson, from the University of Central Florida, started the pre-recorded track, to which the strings played for the duration of the piece. Flutist Nora Lee Garcia had a difficult part to fulfill, playing over the often loud and dense atmosphere of unison strings and the electronics track. The composer succeeds with this piece in coordinating dynamics and phrasing, to create a flowing soundscape between the acoustic instruments and the waxing and waning track that pulsates beneath them.

The closing piece, titled set fire to have light, brought out the naked acoustic force of the string quartet. As with most of the pieces of the evening, first violinist Rimma Bergeron-Langlois played the main melody line, supported by second violinist Alexander Stevens. Furtive glances from Stevens at the Orlando Philharmonic concertmaster kept the group in sync and tight throughout. On the low register, viola player Mauricio Céspedes and cellist David Bjella rounded off this excellent ensemble. Charles Griffin’s closing piece had them play forte unisons toward the end, closing the concert with an air of triumph.

The Timucua White House is a place like no other in the Central Florida area, and for local aficionados of contemporary art music, it is the place to be. The last few concerts have been captured on video, along with post-event interviews, for an upcoming documentary on Benoit Glazer’s legacy to the music community of Orlando, made possible by dedicated organizations like the Central Florida Composers Forum, The Civic Minded Five and the Accidental Music Festival.

It is unfortunate that this could only be a one-off event, given the potential that this amazing program had and the evident success, at least in terms of attendance and support for local talent. My hope is that this event will not go unnoticed by the well-established classical music organizations in Orlando, as well as by emerging ones; the way to the future is in the music of the present.



rimmaTop string players from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra come together to play my string quartet, set fire to have light, along with music by award-winning, local composers.

CF2 (Central Florida Composers Forum) is organizing a concert for string quartet and other local musicians, featuring the talents of Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra musicians Rimma Bergeron-Langlois, Alex Stevens, Mauricio Cespedes and David Bjella.

The concert will take place on May 12th, 2013 (7:30 PM) at the White House in Orlando.

The White House is the perfect venue for chamber music concerts, since it is in a private home. The Timucua Arts Foundation, led by Benoit Glazer (Conductor at La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil), has been serving the Central Florida community through FREE concerts at his home for over 12 years. The venue contains balcony-seating, modern art by local artists, and state of the art recording technology. It can comfortably accommodate 160 seated guests, but has hosted up to 220 people in a single concert.

Featured composers include Thad Anderson, Benoit Glazer, Eric Brook, Charles Griffin, Keith Lay, Danny McIntyre, Tim Stulman, and Karen Van Duyne.

shiftingcellsShifting Cells
TROY1375 – $16.99

New works for percussion ensemble written between 1993 and 2009 are performed by the Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble on this recording. Offering a unique listening experience, two of the works are for saxophone solo with percussion ensemble and one is for organ and percussion ensemble. The recording and two of the works came as a result of a residency program that commissions a new work for the CSU Percussion Ensemble each year. Directed by Paul Vaillancourt, the CSU Percussion Ensemble performs and records music from the traditional percussion ensemble as well as commissioning and premiering works by internationally known and emerging composers. Saxophonist Amy Griffiths is on the faculty at Columbus State University and has made countless appearances as a soloist, chamber musician, and recitalist.

Charles Griffin, composer
Fist Through Traffic
Amy Griffiths, saxophone, Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble

James M. David, composer
Shifting Cells
Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble

Nico Muhly, composer
I Shudder To Think
Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble

Brian Cherney, composer
In Gottes Gärten schweigen die Engel
Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble, Matthew Price, conductor

Robert Rumbelow, composer
Soundscape for organ & percussion ensemble
Jonathan Ryan, organ, Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble, Robert Rumbelow, conductor

James M. David, composer
The Locomotive Geryon
Amy Griffiths, saxophone, Columbus State University Percussion Ensemble

“Clearly Georgia’s Columbus State University has a percussion program of which to be proud. This is a release that any fancier of percussion music will want to explore.” (Fanfare)


– by Kathy Valin

On a chilly Cincinnati evening – December 4, 2012 – in the company of two friends, I ascended Mount Adams after being picked up from Over-the-Rhine. We were in search of a dose of seriously diverse and hopefully thought-provoking art and culture: specifically, an evening of percussion, dance and photography, set in two separate venues, presented by the Cincinnati Art Museum and FOTOFOCUS.

And that’s exactly what we found: yet another example of the abundance of art offered regularly in Cincinnati.

But let’s begin at the beginning.

It was already dark and it had been raining on and off all day when our little trio skittered across the parking lot off St. Paul Place into the relative windlessness of the vestibule of the adjoining Holy Cross-Imaculatta Monastery. Wearing clear goggles issued to protect our eyes from the contrast of a brilliant carbon arc lamp directly ahead of us in the unheated, abandoned void of a decaying monastery, we entered and strolled among other visitors taking in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s off-site “Gravity of Light” by Mike and Doug Starn, while watching live dance from MamLuft&Co. Dance said to be inspired by the exhibit.

Giant photographic reproductions were hung on each of four huge walls, illuminated by the aforementioned single source of light so bright one knew better than to stare directly at it. I guess “blinding” light would be my attempt to convey it.

On the information sheet I was handed before this performance, I noticed that the Starns had quite a lot more to say about light in addition to its traditional use as metaphor for spiritual and intellectual illumination. For them, it is also about “the enormity of all of our past experiences, combining with all that is our present and our future, the conscious and the unconscious, external and internal factors that drive our lives . . . and renders each of us conductors, absorbers and emitters of the universe’s energy.”

Whoa, pretty heavy stuff. Did I feel this had all been conveyed to me? Not really, but for me the installation was indeed a seismic shift from my normal daytime routines, almost as if I had traveled several times zones away. The spatial enormity and the enormous depictions of a tree, a leaf laced with decay, a Renaissance model for the underlying anatomy of a human face and a Buddha gave me a jolt, but the whole perception was anchored by the disorienting presence of the arc lamp.

Around this eerie light source ten couples danced. Director and choreographer Jeanne Mam-Luft (who also credits Susan Honer, Ashley Powell and all her performers) is a fan of “post-modern” dance, which dates from the rebellious 1960’s and espouses the notion that modern dance does not need to be traditionally theatrical in presentation or performed by highly trained dancers, among other strictures.

For Mam-Luft and her collaborators, this theory has resolved into a fairly spartan movement vocabulary of steps that are more typically pedestrian than virtuosic although her company members are intrepid trained dancers, who are to be admired for their focus, stamina and skill in executing them.

Here ten couples, dressed in street clothes (and wearing the aforementioned goggles), seemed taken with each other to the exclusion of any awareness of their surroundings or the specific emotional weight of their moves, although that did not mean that there was no meaning to be found among the partnerships. I think the idea (and here I’m referring specifically to something Jeanne said to me several years ago) is that we are primally connected, and our bodies’ expression of memories, thoughts, joy and conflicts are so basic and so human that they can reflect everyone’s stories.

For instance, one dancer in a couple seemed to have an obsession with raising one leg to the side and then throwing herself against her partner repeatedly. This action was sometimes soft, sometimes more violent. The momentum of the endeavor was sometimes repelled, but her partner often caught her weight and she was lifted and manipulated in different configurations. What this might mean to any particular person is up for grabs, but I certainly discerned a dynamic between them that reminded me of a number of real life scenarios.

Another dancer tenderly explored the face of her partner with her hands. In a program note Mam-Luft explains that “point of contact,” is a seminal technique honoring the touch between dancing bodies, as a way of transmitting information and energy. She related this to the Starns’ acknowledgement that knowing comes from seeing, but that seeing may only come from touching. I supposed I’m glad I’ve been told all this, but as I’ve said, for me a little theory of composition goes a long way.

I think Mam-Luft’s acknowledgement of the Starns’ theoretical influence on her work is a bit stretched – the dance would have played the same with or without knowing about it – but certainly her response to the otherworldly setting had impact, especially since the arc-lamp’s presence was key to our perception of the movement. To consider the artwork hung on the walls, it wasn’t necessary to have the harshness of the light in your field of vision. However uncomfortable it could be, though, it was nearly impossible to watch the dancers as they circled around it (like planets around the sun?) without responding to the painfully high level of ultra-violet light. This effect seemed true to the spirit of the thing, especially since the lamp was designed to be not only a source of illumination both physical and spiritual, but a work of art in itself, an exemplification of a force both generous and cruel.

As this performance wound down, we hopped in our car and drove to the nearby Cincinnati Art Museum, where, in Fath Auditorium, we enjoyed the second part of our evening in a more traditional setting.

This time the MamLuft dancers (who had also relocated by then) appeared in “The So-Called Laws of Nature,” a performance shared with exploratory chamber ensemble Concert:Nova featuring four percussionists and five composers. The two groups had apparently been discussing a collaboration when the Cincinnati Art Museum invited them to create a performance around “Gravity of Light.”

The variety and creativity on display were impressive.

The auditorium stage was not large, and it often had to hold many instruments, musicians and dancers, but the configurations were imaginative and projected images from the Starns’ exhibit added to the mix.

The program opened in darkness as dancers wearing lights on their heads that illuminated the area in front of them moved through the aisles, integrating the ramp and bannister surrounding the stage as props. Once again, the connection to the Starns’ work seemed a little tenuous, but not overwhelmingly so. When I read the descriptions of the cross-influences in the program, I often had the distinct sense that I was reading the language of a grant proposal rather than a performance note.

Following were Charles Griffin’s “The Persistence of Past Chemistries,” David Lang’s “the So-Called Laws of Nature,” Thierry de May’s “Musique de Tables,” a show stopper with no accompanying dance, “Trio per Uno,” by Nebojsa Zivlovic and Paul Lansky’s “Threads.” I’m not a percussion expert, but it was no secret that the four musicians (Erica Drake, Matt Hawkins, Jeff Luft and Patrick Schieker) brought significant virtuosity, musicality and verve to a variety of styles.

As for exotic instruments – and here I’m cribbing from Rafael de Acha – they included melodic percussion instruments, cajon, guiro, tubular bells, woodblocks, drums, xylophones, vibraphones, marimbas, ceramic cups and bowls, a set of wooden logs, and, in “Musique” the performers’ own hands on tabletops.

And the dancers? Interwoven throughout, they gently explored each others’ faces and heads with their hands. They moved sinuously. They moved slowly and quickly, in duos and groups deftly on and off-stage, a Mam-Luft trademark. They took their weight into the floor. They mimicked the beat. They reached, they carved space, they spiraled, they jumped. They suspended their movements, they kicked, they divided themselves into opposing groups. They scooted on their butts. They moved forward and back in unison. Sometimes there were solos and there were duets with improbable lifts, and cartwheels.

When we finally drove off into the frigid night, it was with a clear sense that we had absorbed a lot. But somehow, I wanted something a little more specific for these dancers who were giving their all. Could be it’s just my personal bias, but I craved a clearer story line for them. I wanted them not to reflect everyone’s story, but their own – to have somehow a stronger sense of narrative to carry the beauty, and yes, the personality of their performance forward.

MamLuft dancers were Colleen Byrne, Stephanie Ann Danyi, Clint Fisher, Rebecca Fleisher, Susan Honer, Casey Monday, Mindy Nagel, Ashley Powell, Elena Rodriguez, Emily Scott, Amanda Sortman and Nicole Suzel.


concertnova-headerBy Louisa Shepherd, Concert:Nova

Have you ever wondered how many flowerpots it would take to put on a percussion quartet concert? My guess is—probably not, but audiences at concert:nova’s upcoming concert, The So-Called Laws of Nature, are sure to find the answer to that question and much more.

This collaborative concert will feature the concert:nova percussion quartet and the fabulous dancers of MamLuft&Co. Dance. We’re also very excited to be performing with our long time partner, The Cincinnati Art Museum, who will be presenting the highly acclaimed “Gravity of Light” exhibit in conjunction with our concert.

Last week I had the great pleasure of speaking with our very own Patrick Schleker, one of four talented percussionists performing in The So-Called Laws of Nature. The piece, The So-Called Laws of Nature, after which the concert is named features a range of sound that is “quite different than what most people are used to,” says Schleker, who also performs as timpanist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. This particular piece involves all types of equipment from pipes, to toms, and yes it even involves performers playing on teacups and flowerpots!

“Audiences can expect to get a pretty non-traditional concert-going experience,” Patrick says. “From a musical standpoint, the sound palate will be very different. We chose a program that will be very engaging to listen to.”

“Percussion instruments are very good at creating textures and moods,” as is the case with David Lang’s The So Called-Laws of Nature, “but this won’t be just a concert full of texture.” Charles Griffin’s The Persistence of Past Chemistries has a tune and may be the closest to what people are used to as far as melody is concerned. Thierry de Mey’s Musique de Tables, programed on the second half of the concert, is written just for hands on tables. “This piece emphasizes the visual aspect of percussion,” Patrick notes, “A big component of what we do is visual.”

“In all, I’m really excited to play each of the pieces on the program. We ‘re all looking forward to this concert,” says Patrick in reference to his fellow quartet members, Erica Drake, Matt Hawkins, and Jeff Luft. “We’ve all worked together in different configurations since 2006, but never as a percussion quartet.” Patrick actually met his colleague Jeff Luft while studying for a Master’s degree in percussion performance. “I went to graduate school at Cleveland State and met Jeff in school. He went to Carnegie-Mellon which was sort of a sister school to us. I’ve known him ever since.”

Be sure to catch Patrick Schleker all the members of the concert:nova percussion quartet at the Cincinnati Art Museum December 2nd and 4th for The So-Called Laws of Nature. It’s sure to be a show you don’t want to miss. For more details about the Cincinnati Art Museum and the “Gravity of Light” exhibit visit




Following on the success of her Juan Rulfo project, pianist Ana Cervantes has put together another multi-composer themed commissioning project entitled Song of the Monarch: Women in Mexico. Nearly 20 composers from around the world were commissioned to respond to the theme, which conflates the varied historical roles played by women in Mexican history and the annual autumn migration of Monarch butterflies into Mexico. This new collection of solo piano music includes my …Like Water Dashed From Flowers…, a piece that borrows elements from the folkloric song La Zandunga and Nahuatl poetry translated into Spanish. The piece is somewhat demanding and includes aspects of ritual and song, where the pianist is asked at times to recite text, sing, play a rattle, stomp her foot (wearing ankle bells), or utilize other extended techniques, often while playing the piano at the same time.

Ana premiered the piece at the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Mexico last year, and has been invited to give the Mexico City Premiere at the Centro Nacional de las Artes on July 8 at 1:30 in the afternoon.


A lot of work is coming to fruition at the Orlando White House on April 29. The Central Florida Composers Forum, now nearly a year old, is getting its land legs. In late January, CF2 member works were included in UCF’s percussion-focused Collide Festival with great success, and the momentum from that concert has lead to a well-publicized and much anticipated multi-media event at the Timucua White House at 7PM on April 29. See the Orlando Weekly write-up here.

Two new works will premiere on this concert: local arts luminary and musical director of La Nouba (Cirque du Soleil) Benoit Glazer‘s Suite Circassienne #6 for brass quintet and percussion quintet and Full Sail University’s Rebekah Todia‘s The Solitary for soprano and piano.

Also on the concert will be Rollins College professor of composition Daniel Crozier‘s Winter Aubade, for piano solo and my Emergence, for flute quartet, prerecorded audio and video projection.

The composers will all be present and are joined by an impressive body of performers: Benoit Glazer & Mike Avila, trumpets; Kathy Thomas, horn; Jeff Thomas, trombone; Bob Carpenter, tuba; Jeff Moore, Matt Roberts, Wesley Strasser, Thad Anderson & Garth Steger, percussion; Julie Batman, Soprano; Heidi Louise Williams & Rebekah Todia, piano; and Elsa Kate Nichols, Nicholas Buonanni, Adriane Hill, Anielka Silva, flutes.