Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Jason Moran, MacArthur Fellow

The name of composer Jason Moran, who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship recently, might be familiar to Philadelphians. It was his Cane that was commissioned by the Kimmel Center for the opening of its Fresh Ink series in 2008. At that concert, the piece, played by Imani Winds, struck me as something that deserved more than one hearing, and perhaps that will now come to pass.

Jason Moran, MacArthur Fellow

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Photo by Shaul Schwarz<br />
Photo by Shaul Schwarz

The name of composer Jason Moran, who was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship recently, might be familiar to Philadelphians. It was his Cane that was commissioned by the Kimmel Center for the opening of its Fresh Ink series in 2008. At that concert, the piece, played by Imani Winds, struck me as something that deserved more than one hearing, and perhaps that will now come to pass.

Here were my impressions:

The title refers to the Cane River in Louisiana, which runs through Natchitoches, where Moran's family lived in the 1700s. Literal references, if they existed, were hard to catch. But it does convey mood. In a rather conservative musical language, Moran in one movement pits melody against urgent, telegraphing rhythms. In another, he's pastoral and reflective. It's lovely music, but there was only a pale sense of musical material tying it to a sense of place. 

Listen for yourself.

Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

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