Reviews and Commentary
Concerto for Ornette
New York Times
Global Edition Music
Plenty of Artistic Pressure for a Saxophone Student By STEVE SMITH
Published: September 25, 2011
"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to improvise freely on alto saxophone throughout the premiere of a concerto not only inspired by Ornette Coleman, one of the most natural melodists and distinctive improvisers in American music, but also actually intended for Mr. Coleman to perform. You should evoke the work’s dedicatee without merely mimicking his sound and gestures.
Oh, and Mr. Coleman will be watching, amid an audience of his admirers and renowned jazz-world peers.
Under the circumstances you could feel that Morgan Jones, a master’s degree student in the Juilliard School’s jazz program, deserved a medal just for agreeing to play Carman Moore’s “Concerto for Ornette.” The New Juilliard Ensemble introduced that 25-minute work at the end of a concert in the school’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater on Saturday night.
But Mr. Jones, whose biography notes that he formed his first jazz band when he was 12, needed no sympathy vote. He opened the performance with a brief, freewheeling solo statement that combined a Gallic suavity with Mr. Coleman’s bluesy slurs and chortling cascades.
Compared with “Skies of America,” Mr. Coleman’s engagingly unruly orchestral magnum opus from 1972, Mr. Moore’s concerto is more conventional in structure and temperament. Sultry string figures embellished with sweeping harp recalled what Hollywood composers nicked from Duke Ellington; staggered section entries piled up with Gershwin-esque swagger. As in Mr. Coleman’s recent bands, one bassist plucked walking lines while another played with a bow.
In the second movement’s more limpid moments, you could imagine Mr. Coleman improvising over Fauré. Within the ensemble, another saxophonist, Balazs Rumy, played sweetly in written material; one gorgeous passage that paired Mr. Rumy with Lauren Williams on English horn suggested what could have been the homegrown American sound Dvorak imagined.
In the robust finale, in which chattering high-hat and rumbling timpani paced Mr. Jones’s racing flurries, you longed for the more dynamic drive of an improvising jazz drummer. You suspected too that despite Mr. Jones’s confidence and authority Mr. Coleman would probably have taken a more assertive stance. The conductor Joel Sachs, in his introduction, mentioned an orchestral version of Mr. Moore’s concerto; would that the New York Philharmonic could be persuaded to investigate while Mr. Coleman, 81, is around to participate.
Everything preceding the concerto underscored the fine Juilliard ensemble’s sheer versatility."
SHE (An Appreciation)
The New York Times
Roaming Freely (and Magically) in a Musical Universe By Joe Kohen
May 3, 2011
"...Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie, an agile soprano with a lively, flexible interpretive personality, was the communicative soloist in the vocal works. The first, Carman Moore’s “SHE (An Appreciation)” cycle, is a 2010 cradle-to-grave paean to women that demands much of a singer. The text moves from the random syllables of infancy through teenage narcissism and motherly maturity to the wisdom of age, and the music evolves similarly, with touches of energy and theatricality giving way to intense lyricism and a touch of frailty..."
The VILLAGE VOICE - VOICE CHOICES
July 30, 1996
CARMAN MOORE/SKYMUSIC ENSEMBLE:
Moore, whose superb musicianship smooths over the classical/jazz disjunction until you forget it was ever there, is sending LOVE NOTES TO CENTRAL PARK, an outdoor extravaganza for his Skymusic Ensemble and the Pearson/Widrig Dance Company. Dancers and one instrumentalist will perform in rowboats on the Lake, with—coals to Newcastle?—recorded bird songs peeping from the shore. Cherry Hill in Central Park..
CONCERTOS (THE THEME IS FREEDOM)
As score for Eun-Mi Cho's SOUTH HEAVEN PHASE II.
Seoul, Korea Dance News (Mr. Tae Won Kim) 1990
The music of Mr. Carman Moore was very distinguished. His vital and dynamic music was well-matched with the movement of the dancers and so the audience gave an enthusiastic response...
MASS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Producer: Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors (Letter; 1994)
Thank you from my heart for the MASS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY...This enormous and detailed project...is so vast that any expression of appreciation or even a description of the work seems paltry. But this was an exceptionally lovely work of music, grounded in your own love of humanity and beauty and faith in the power of beauty to speak to all people, regardless of their backgrounds or predilections. Even to attempt such a work has my admiration, and to succeed is so much greater.
Dr. M.T. Mehdi,
Pres.: The National Council on Islamic Affairs (Letter 1994)
Dear brother Carman Moore:
It was a great feast you provided New York, America and the world! What a pleasure! And what a feast! Your personality, your music and your humanity transcended the 20th century with its absurdities, robots, and empty balloons...Humanity loves you as you love the humankind. ...The delicious feast on August 10 and 11 will be an important part of the life of everyone who had the pleasure to be with you, listen and appreciate your contribution and performance.
Katherine Teck: Research staff / Music Div. / N.Y. Public Library;
Author of books on music collaboration with Dance. (Letter 1994)
Beautiful! Your Mass for the 21st Century has your audience all up on Clouds 9, 24, 96, 4002. As the crowd was walking away from the performance, I overheard one middle-aged white man exuberantly exclaiming: “I've waited all my life to hear something like this...a Juilliard graduate...with orchestral experience...and electronic and live musicians...and Uptown and Downtown...and gospel and operatic...and African-American. It was wonderful! It was noble!” I could only concur, but suggested that he left out something important: your expertise with dance music.
The Village Voice (Kyle Gann) Aug.30, 1994
“ Mass for the 21st Century reminded me more than anything else of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis...”
TO THE POWER OF PEACE
The Dayton Daily News (Mark Stryker)
How fitting that the Dayton Philharmonic closed its 60th anniversary season Wednesday at Memorial Hall with a program that included inspired performances of both (Beethoven Symphonies 1 and 9) masterpieces... as well as Carman Moore's “To The Power of Peace””... a final note about Moore's new work, which is an especially lyrical piece of modernism that places trumpets front and center in the midst of a coloristic orchestration, including a fluttering harp and tolling chimes. How well Moore's message of peace fit with Beethoven's celebration of brotherhood...
The New York Times (James R. Oestreich) Dec.30, 1989
Many composers defy categories, but Carman Moore simply treats them with disdain...
Mr. Moore has a lot of music in his head, the product of his upbringing in black culture, his classical training and his voracious curiosity, and in his multi-media extravaganzas he finds some distinctly odd and wonderful places for it.
LA DEA DELLE ACQUE
Corriere Della Sera (Milan, Italy) (Mario Pasi) January 6, 1989
...The evening of Alvin Ailey ballets, a revival in the most appropriate setting of La Scala, was a hot success... We must point out immediately the beautiful sound and technical quality of the evening... formidable also for the musical component, in particular, the live appearance of Carman Moore and Skymusic Ensemble. The score by Moore for “Goddess of the Waters” created by Alvin Ailey for La Scala and Ms. Savignano, had a richness enveloped with sounds and substance distinctly superior to the standard Yankee ballet.
SKYMUSIC ENSEMBLE PLAYS C. MOORE MUSIC AT ST. JOHN THE DIVINE CATHEDRAL
The Village Voice (K.Gann) May 17, 1988
The music's sculptural clarity was a model Uptown needed, the consideration Moore showed the audience at every step was one for Downtown to note. If all new music were so professional, so tightly written, so patently made to gratify the ear rather than theories, mandates, and pretensions, the market for dead people's music would collapse.
BERENICE: VARIATIONS ON A THEME BY GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL
American Music Quarterly (Howard Pollack) Winter 1987
... It is a sixties-styled parody, with craggy atonal episodes, nostalgic reminiscences of Bach, and obscure references to jazz. The listener at first might think of Moore as a latter-day Ruggles or Ives, but familiarity brings out a poignancy and wit that are somewhat akin to the Stravinsky of “Apollo” and “Orpheus.”
WILD GARDENS OF THE LOUP GAROU
The New York Times (Stephen Holden) May 8, 1983
This cyclic suite of songs and recitatives, currently playing at the Judson Memorial Church, has its four performers periodically disappear into a gorgeous set---a luminescent enchanted garden created by colored light projections--- to wrestle with their demons... within this iridescent wilderness, theatrical sparks fly... Mr. Moore is a talented and versatile songwriter, and his more formal settings emotionally enhance the poetry. His pop-blues rendering of Mr. Ishmael Reed's “Bitter Chocklate,” the musings of a Vietnam veteran, has the strength and bite of Gil Scott Heron... For Miss McElroy's sensuous “And When My Love Calls,” the music looks back to Ravel by way of Sondheim.
FOUR MOVEMENTS FOR A FASHIONABLE 5-TOED DRAGON
The Japan Times (Gloria Noda)
April 8, 1976
Carman Moore...You'll want to hear his works, this when he appears in Tokyo at the invitation of NHK...Terrific music---at the Hong Kong Festival it was played by the University of Sorbonne Orchestra (flown in from Paris for the event), and conducted by Isaiah Jackson, young Rochester Philharmonic conductor and Leonard Bernstein protégé...the Sorbonne Orchestra's director said his pupils had never had the opportunity to play music like this before and it was a wonderful unique experience that would remain with them for the rest of their lives. And that he was going to have a hard time getting them back to classic forms...
Letter from Joan Mondale: June 1, 1979
Dear Mr. Moore,
What a delightful recording! I was so pleased to receive it and rushed right up to listen to it. I was bowled over!...
With warm regards and many thanks,
HIT: A CONCERTO FOR PERCUSSION AND ORCHESTRA (Rochester, N.Y.)
Democrat and Chronicle (George Murphy) May 5, 1978
... the audience reacted to Moore's piece in a friendly and enthusiastic way in a display of sustained applause, punctuated by scattered shouts of approbation...In sum, “Hit” is as difficult to describe as one's first kiss. My impression is that it is the work of a first-class orchestrator who's come close to overturning a seeming contradiction in terms, this is, a comfortable juxtaposition of Art and Noise.
WILDFIRES AND FIELD SONGS
The Christian Science Monitor (Thor Eckert Jr.) 2/3/75,
“LINCOLN CENTER'S COMPELLING WORLD PREMIERE”
The work was commissioned by the N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra and the N.Y. State Council on the Arts. As heard last Saturday night, it is a most compelling piece, one that deserves further hearing across the nation. He has blended classical with popular, erudite musicality with folk tradition and ended up with a work of incandescent exuberance: Clearly Carman Moore loves an orchestra and exploits it for rich effects. The question of a logical progression to the music-----so often obscure and / or lacking altogether these days---need not even be brought up: The work is in three well-reasoned movements, with a finale that represents a true culmination of all that has gone before...The orchestra tackled the work like an old repertory favorite.
The Oakland Tribune (Paul Hartelendy) Jan.24, 1975
Fortunately in Carman Moore's lively new “Gospel Fuse” the gospel enthusiasm floated to the top and exposed the symphony audiences to the vitality of the black spirit that they rarely encounter at the Opera House... He hits the listener between the eyes with sensual religious exhortations as rendered by singer Cissy Houston, a devastating stylist who wove generously through the various songs...It's catchy, it's rhythmic, and the eight soloists up front turned it into a veritable revival meeting, with Ozawa conducting from the pulpit.
The Dayton Daily News (Betty Dietz Krebs) Feb.21, 1991
The work by Moore, a product of Ohio State University and Juilliard School of Music, was the major discovery in Wednesday's Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra concert...The force of the message then is all the more strengthened by the realization that Moore's stunning and dramatic work was premiered in January 1975---15 years in advance of the Persian Gulf crisis that grips the world today...
Exciting as the Moore work was on first hearing at Wednesday's concert, it was even more compelling in Saturday's Philharmonic program, which was the second annual gospel night...