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A Sweeter Music

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"A Sweeter Music" features the New York premieres of piano works by Frederic Rzewski, Terry Riley, Preben Antonsen, Peter Garland, Phil Kline, Jerome Kitzke, the Residents, and Kyle Gann.

Merkin Hall
at Kaufman Center, 129 W. 67th Street
(between Broadway and Amsterdam)
» Tickets
» New Sounds Live 2008-2009 Concert Season

Pianist Sarah Cahill presents and performs world premieres and New York premieres by Phil Kline, Preben Antonsen, Kyle Gann, Meredith Monk and the Residents, among others. The works are drawn from the collected works, “A Sweeter Music,” inspired by a line from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1964 Nobel lecture — "We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war." Cahill herself commissioned these new piano works on the subject of peace from several composers, 18 in all, ranging in age from 17-year-old Preben Antonsen, who lives in Berkeley, to Terry Riley and Yoko Ono, both in their 70s, leaving it up to them, whether their work would be "anti-war" or "pro-peace."

One of minimalism’s founding fathers, Terry Riley, has created the "Be Kind to One Another (Rag)," inspired by the words of Alice Walker after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Frederic Rzewski has contributed seven miniatures, “Peace Dances,” dense and intricate, incorporating a vast array of different styles, and dipping into many sources like nursery songs and folk tunes of many countries. Peter Garland, for his piece, “After the Wars,” draws from Chinese classical poetry and a haiku by Basho to suggest the calm of nature after the fighting has ended. Also, Ms. Cahill is called upon to tap out drumbeats, whistle, and recite poetry by Walt Whitman and Rumi in the piece by Jerome Kitzke, “There Is a Field.” Accompanying each of the piano pieces are arresting video visualizations on three screens by John Sanborn, including Civil War photographs and footage shot from a hot-air balloon above the Napa Valley.

Sarah CahillSarah Cahill
is a pianist, writer, and producer who specializes in new American music as well as the American experimental tradition, and has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated music to her include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Kyle Gann, Andrea Morricone, and Evan Ziporyn, and she has also premiered pieces by Lou Harrison, Julia Wolfe, Ingram Marshall, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Ursula Mamlok, George Lewis, Leo Ornstein, and many others.

Cahill is particularly fascinated by how the early 20th-century American modernists have influenced composers working today. She has explored these musical lineages in numerous concert programs, the most ambitious being a three-day festival celebrating the centennial of Henry Cowell in 1997. For the 2001 centennial of Ruth Crawford Seeger, she commissioned seven composers, all women, to write short homage pieces, which she has performed at Merkin Hall, Dartmouth College, the Cincinnati Conservatory, and at Hampshire College in Amherst. For another project, Playdate, she commissioned composers including Lois V Vierk and John Kennedy for a concert especially designed for children. She enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for performance.

She has performed at the Miller Theatre and Cooper Union in New York, the Other Minds Festival, Pacific Crossings Festival in Tokyo, at the Spoleto Festival USA, and at the Nuovi Spazi Musicali festival in Rome. For two “new music seances” produced by Other Minds, she performed most of three separate concert programs back to back, spanning music from the early 20th century to the present day (a third “séance” is scheduled for this December). Sarah and pianist Joseph Kubera appear frequently as a duo; they premiered a set of four-hand pieces by Terry Riley at UCLA’s Royce Hall, and have performed them at the Triptych Festival in Scotland and at Roulette in New York.

Most of Sarah’s albums are on the New Albion label. She has also recorded for the Tzadik, CRI, New World, Albany, Cold Blue, and Artifact labels. She is currently preparing recordings of music by Leo Ornstein, Marc Blitzstein, and Mamoru Fujieda. Her radio show, Then & Now, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM.

Additional Resources:
» Sarah Cahill
» New Sounds Live 2008-2009 Concert Season
» Merkin Hall