For Other Minds’s 30th anniversary, pianist Marc-André Hamelin performed Charles Ives’s legendary Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860,” with commentary by composer Kyle Gann, author of Charles Ives’s Concord: Essays after a Sonata (U. of Illinois Press, 2017). Hosted by Charles Amirkhanian on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at Littlefield Concert Hall, Mills College at Northeastern University in Oakland.
America’s first avant-garde composer, Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954), launched a new world tradition of experimentation. It was carried forward by his spiritual progeny Henry Cowell, John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Ruth Crawford Seeger, among others. Please join us for a look back at the birth of American experimental music and a party marking the 30th anniversary of our first concert on January 29, 1993. At that concert, we presented the American premiere of György Ligeti’s Etudes, Books I and II performed by pianist Volker Banfield with the composer present to talk about the music. This event, which closely resembles our first, is a celebration of the many concerts presented in the intervening 30 years by Other Minds across the San Francisco Bay Area.
The concert took place at 7:00 pm on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at Littlefield Concert Hall on the Mills College campus in Oakland, CA. The performance was preceded by a reception at 6:00 pm celebrating the 30th anniversary of Other Minds.
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Littlefield Concert Hall, Oakland, CA
Other Minds Executive and Artistic Director, Charles Amirkhanian
Discussion & Demonstration
Kyle Gann & Marc-André Hamelin
Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860”
3 The Alcotts
Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Charles Ives – Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860”
Performed by Marc-André Hamelin
“This is not a nice sonata for a nice piano player, but something the writer had long been thinking about.” So wrote the composer Charles Ives about one of his most important works, his Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860”, otherwise known as the Concord Sonata. In this concert, we celebrate the 30th year of our activities with a performance of the Concord Sonata by the extraordinary pianist, Marc-André Hamelin, who has recorded the Sonata twice and plays it from memory.
Charles Ives – Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860”
Pre-Concert Discussion, Lecture, and Demonstration
Other Minds celebrates 30 years of revelationary new music with this concert, by pianist Marc-André Hamelin, of Charles Ives’s Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860.” As an introduction to this important work, we feature a pre-concert discussion, lecture, and demonstration with Kyle Gann, author of a book on the piece called Charles Ives’s Concord: Essays after a Sonata, the pianist Marc André Hamelin, and our Executive and Artistic Director, Charles Amirkhanian.
Credit: Richard Friedman
Credit: Raymond Holbert
About Charles Ives
Charles Ives (1874-1954) was a godfather of American experimental music, with a thread drawn from his groundbreaking work to composers of the following generations from Henry Cowell to John Cage and Lou Harrison. Born in 1874 in Danbury, Connecticut, his music is deeply affected by his native New England including the quotation of popular songs and the influence of transcendentalism. His father, a bandleader, gave him his earliest musical instruction, and he went on to study music at Yale with Horatio Parker from 1894-1898.
Ives was an early experimenter with musical techniques that would become commonplace later in the 20th century, including microtones, tone clusters, chance music, and polytonality. His works were largely ignored at the time of their composition, with many going unperformed for decades. His music began to receive more recognition from the 1930s onwards, although by this time he had largely stopped composing. Ives was also a supporter of the music of his fellow composers, funding Henry Cowell’s New Music Edition which gathered the experimental composers of the 1920s to 1950s through concerts and the publishing of scores and recordings.
About Marc-André Hamelin
“A performer of near-superhuman technical prowess” (The New York Times), pianist Marc-André Hamelin is known worldwide for his unrivaled blend of consummate musicianship and brilliant technique in the great works of the established repertoire, as well as for his intrepid exploration of the rarities of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. He regularly performs around the globe with the leading orchestras and conductors of our time, and gives recitals at major concert venues and festivals worldwide.
Highlights of Mr. Hamelin’s 2022–2023 season include a vast variety of repertoire performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall (Piano Quintet’s by Florence Price and Brahms), Berlin Philharmonic and Marek Janowski (Reger’s Piano Concerto), San Diego Symphony and Rafael Payare (Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2), Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Gustavo Gimeno (Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie), Netherlands Philharmonic and Joshua Weilerstein (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and Symphony Nova Scotia and Holly Mathieson (Grieg’s Piano Concerto). Recital appearances take Mr. Hamelin to Vienna, Chicago, Toronto, Montréal, Napa Valley, São Paulo, and Bogotá, among other venues across the world.
The summer of 2022 included performances at many festivals including Caramoor with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Tanglewood, Domaine Forget, La Jolla, Schubertiade, and Festival International Piano.
Mr. Hamelin is an exclusive recording artist for Hyperion Records, where his discography spans more than 70 albums, with notable recordings of a broad range of solo, orchestral, and chamber repertoire. In January 2022, the label released a two-disc set of C. P. E. Bach’s sonatas and rondos that received wide critical acclaim and in June 2022, Hyperion released the two-disc set of William Bolcom’s The Complete Rags.
Mr. Hamelin has composed music throughout his career, with over 30 compositions to his name. The majority of those works—including the Etudes and Toccata on L’homme armé, commissioned by the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition—are published by Edition Peters. His most recent work, his Piano Quintet, was premiered in August 2022 by himself and the celebrated Dover Quartet at La Jolla Music Society.
Mr. Hamelin makes his home in the Boston area with his wife, Cathy Fuller, a producer and host at Classical WCRB. Born in Montreal, he is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the German Record Critics’ Association, and has received seven Juno Awards and 11 Grammy nominations, and the 2018 Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. In December 2020, he was awarded the Paul de Hueck and Norman Walford Career Achievement Award for Keyboard Artistry from the Ontario Arts Foundation. Mr. Hamelin is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.
About Kyle Gann
Kyle Gann, born 1955 in Dallas, Texas, is a composer of both microtonal and conventionally- tuned music, and the author of seven books on American music. His magnum opus is Hyperchromatica (Other Minds Records two CD set, 2018), a two-and-a-half-hour cycle of pieces for three retuned, computer-driven pianos in a 33-tone scale. His books include The Arithmetic of Listening: Tuning Theory and History for the Impractical Musician (University of Illinois Press, 2019); Charles Ives’s Concord: Essays After a Sonata (University of Illinois Press, 2017); Robert Ashley (University of Illinois Press, 2012); No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4’33” (Yale University Press, 2010); Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice (University of California Press, 2006); American Music in the 20th Century (Schirmer Books, 1997); and The Music of Conlon Nancarrow (Cambridge University Press, 1995). Since 1997 he has taught at Bard College, where he is the Taylor Hawver and Frances Bortle Hawver Professor of Music, and from 1986 to 2005 he was the new-music critic for the Village Voice.
Gann studied composition with Ben Johnston, Morton Feldman, and Peter Gena, and about a fourth of his music is microtonal, using up to 58 pitches per octave. His other major works include Sunken City, a piano concerto commissioned by the Orkest de Volharding in Amsterdam; Transcendental Sonnets, a 35-minute work for choir and orchestra commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir; Custer and Sitting Bull, a microtonal, one-man music theater work he’s performed more than 30 times from Brisbane to Moscow; and The Planets, commissioned by the Relache ensemble. In 2007, choreographer Mark Morris made a large-ensemble dance, Looky, from five of Gann’s works for Disklavier (computerized player piano). His writings include more than 3000 articles for more than 45 publications, including scholarly articles on La Monte Young, Henry Cowell, John Cage, Edgard Varese, Ben Johnston, Mikel Rouse, John Luther Adams, Dennis Johnson, and other American composers. He was awarded the Peabody Award (2003), the Stagebill Award (1999) and the Deems-Taylor Award (2003) for his writings. His music is available on the New Albion, New World, Cold Blue, Lovely Music, Mode, Other Minds, Innova, Meyer Media, New Tone, Microfest, Vous Ne Revez Pas Encore, Brilliant Classics, and Monroe Street labels. In 2003, the American Music Center awarded Gann its Letter of Distinction, along with Steve Reich, Wayne Shorter, and George Crumb.