Author: Devin Negroni

Michael Riesman and Ensemble Signal Celebrate Philip Glass

On Monday May 15, at 6pm, I attended a Pop Up! concert at the Miller Theater at Columbia University School of The Arts. This Pop Up! concert was in honor of Philip Glass’s film and opera music as interpreted by Michael Riesman. Arriving to the location was a long walk from the train station so it was a pleasant surprise when I found out they had a free open bar at this free Pop Up! concert event, it made for a very relaxing time after being tired from walking and then waiting on a long line to get inside. After getting settled into my seat i realized that there were chairs up on the stage right in front of the piano; turns out people could actually purchase tickets to sit right up front and center with the musicians. It definitely created a very intimate setting for the performance, just not for those who did not purchase those tickets as we could not see the musicians at all, it was all just a listening setting for us down below.

Michael Riesman was the pianist for this concert, along with Doug Perkins on percussion and Laura Radnofsky on cello who are part of Ensemble Signal. The trio performed pieces from a blend of Philip Glass’s film and opera music. These pieces came from The Hours (2002 film), Naqoyqatsi (2002 film), Dracula, La Belle et la Bete (1994 opera) and Satyagraha (1979 opera).

The music that Philip Glass composed for these films and operas were definitely minimalist, for most pieces it only used two out of the three available instruments and it was not a complex scoring, as far as i could hear. The very first piece only included piano and cello, the majority of the pieces were cello and percussion. All the pieces were calming, relaxing, and romantic, it also helped create a scene in my mind, although i had never heard or seen any of the films or operas these pieces were coming from, I was able to feel like i was watching scenes unfold right in front of me, it was quite an experience.

At the bottom i have attached two recordings i was able to get from the performance, the first one is Tissue No.1 performed with cello and percussion from Naqoyqatsi and the second recording is The Poet Acts from The Hours performed with piano and cello.

On stage seating at the Pop Up! concert honoring Philip Glass

Distance Future ; Minimalism at its finest

For March, I decided to do a recording review for the album Distance Future, sung and written by French musicians Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper. This album is the perfect blend of mystery and relaxation in the most strangest way. If i close my eyes and listen i just can not tell if i should be scared or calm. These two musicians edited together some highlights of a visit to Todmorden Unitarian Church in England. A review i read on this album from Pitchfork was that it sounds like “wordless hymns sung by ghosts” and that is probably the best words to describe this album. The voices as they sing through the church echo around sounding like ghosts echoing though halls.

This album is considered “Experimental” because the two musicians were improvising in this church and found a sound that is unlike their own from their own previous albums. The album was voted #19 for 2015’s Best Experimental Album and i can see why. It is unlike anything i have ever heard before and it brings minimalism to another level for me, i mean how much simpler can it get, walking into a church and singing through to create hauntingly beautiful echos.

Delphine Dora and Sophie Cooper are extremely underrated. It is almost impossible to find information on them online and its sad because they have a lot of talent and deserve to be in the spotlight a bit more. I think this album helped that a bit but definitely not enough and i hope i can help just a little by bringing these women into peoples attention.

The video below is one song off off of Delphine Dora and Sophie Coopers album Distance Future.It is not the best recording of this but if interested in hearing more please visit Delphine Doras bandcamp website and listen to the whole album to get a real sense of what these women can do.