|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
This Saturday night, May 30, my other group, Pulse, will be performing our Songs from the Hudson River project at the historic Hudson Opera House in Hudson, New York (2 hours north of NYC). This is a fun project because it is a collaboration with the incredible singer-songwriterJoy Askew and features a small Pulse ensemble of 6 players: Dan Willis (woodwinds), Lis Rubard (horn), Ana Milosavljevic (violin), Will Martina (cello), Diana Herold (percussion), Greg Chudzik (bass). Each composition is inspired by communities and life along the Hudson River as this year marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage up the "River of Mountains".
ORIGINALLY POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 6:45 AM
Hubble Deep Field slideshow
Es stehen unbeweglich
Die Sterne in der Höh,
Viel tausend Jahr, und schauen
Sich an mit Liebesweh.
(from Lyrisches Intermezzo from Buch der Lieder by Heinrich Heine)
They stand unmoving
The stars in the heavens
Many thousands of years,
watching with their torment
Translation by Joseph Phillips
ORIGINALLY POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 10:27 PM
Here's a recent review from Kathodik, an Italian music source. While the link is the original review in Italian, I have a Google translation below (got to love that tool!). While I'm sure not quite accurate, I liked the wrongness of some of the translated grammar; but at least it does give an idea of what was said (any Italian speakers out there wanna help out!):
Numinous / Joseph C. Phillips Jr. 'Vipassana'
Numinous is the name of the group of musicians founded and led, since 2000, by Joseph C. Phillips Jr. The group is made up of musicians from classical music and jazz, and specializes in executing the works of Phillips, it is no accident that [have] influences both in classical and jazz. The so-called Vipassana innovative features four songs from Phillips, each of which exemplifies the style of the composer, I would call with these three words: sensual, dreamy, flowing. The compositions of Phillips certainly feel the influence of Steve Reich, in particular the seminal Music for 18 Musicians (which by the way has certainly been recorded for Innova), which are reflected both the impact minimal and gradual, as the 'original sound mix of voices, percussion, woodwinds and strings. But another similarity is that with Gavin Bryars and Toru Takemitsu, with whom Phillips shares a taste for the nuances, the sensitivity to the more subtle nuances, and the search for a sound liquidity. But Phillips's music is not limited to the influences and similarities, while important and well amalgamated, then here is that the rigid conceptual structures opens a minimalist improvisational moments of ecstatic beauty, the nuances and refractions sound is more compact, lower-long quarterly and enveloping melodic and harmonic, and then fall apart again, sliding with a harmony that makes us breathe and live and move in harmony with nature, which ultimately we feel deeply and pleasantly immersed.
ORIGINALLY POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 9:22 PM
"Into all the Valleys Evening Journeys" from Vipassana was featured on WNYC's New Sounds program #2940 (Mid-Sized Ensembles) last Friday May 22, 2009. It was a good show (not just because I'm on it!) that also featured Matt McBane's ensemble Build, John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet + 1 (the +1, being friend and Bang on a Can All-Star guitarist Mark Stewart), and Flexible Music.
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Tonight I attended a benefit concert by Simone Dinnerstein as part of the PS 321 Neighborhood Concerts in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She performed Johannes Brahms' Intermezzo in A Major (one of my favorite pieces of Brahms), Philip Lasser's Twelve Variations on a Chorale by J.S. Bach, and J.S. Bach's French Suite No. 5 in G major.
All of the pieces were performed beautifully. The Brahms had an easy melodic warmth and expressivity. In the Lasser I believe it was Variation 9 with it's repetitive phrases that I was attracted to the most, although Variation 11 (which is a variation on the variations) was fun to try and follow the mists of earlier variations (the composer was in the audience and I got to meet after the concert). Listening to Simone perform French Suite I was reminded of Bach's title page of his Klavierübung where he states his goal is to stimulate the mind and refresh the spirit. I certainly felt both mentally stimulated and spiritually refreshed during Simone's reading. Following the various strands of Bach's melodies, particularly the left hand motion, made me wonder how Bach was able to create such beauty with just two simple lines weaving around each other. I told Simone after the concert...I'll be checking out more Bach!
After the concert, Simone announced the start of the PS 321 Neighborhood Concert Series with all proceeds benefiting the PS 321 PTA (certainly needed with all of the state budget cuts looming). All the artists are friends or collaborators of Simone's and sounds quite exciting for Brooklyn. One of the artists she announced, Face the Music, will be performing on the series in the spring of 2010 and have commissioned me to write a work for them! They are middle school aged students from the Special Music School in Manhattan and I'm really excited to work with them (and their director Jenny Undercofler) as I heard a broadcast of them performing Phil Kline's Exquisite Corpses for mixed ensemble and tape for the opening of WNYC's Greene Concert Space on April 30th and was quite impressed. This was one of those commissions I didn't know about until Simone contacted me about it earlier in the week (always like surprises like that!). She was performing at the Greene Space opening too and heard Face the Music perform also and asked Jenny Undercofler if they would be a part of the Neighborhood series and suggested that I might write a piece for them. I'm very honored that Simone thought of me for the commission and that Face the Music said yes; looking forward to it.
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 9:25 PM
Been listening to a fascinating series on NPR's All Things Considered about how spirituality is processed in the brain. Reminds me of the quest of the Impressionist painters in the 19th century to show the 'true' colors produced by light: but how can you truly see what is really there if your 'brain' is processing the experience of what you see? what is green if not our brain's reaction to a certain stimuli that we translate as green?
In the series so far there are just as interesting koans involving the brain and spirituality: how do we process numinous experiences? Is it all in our heads? can we ever really know? While I don't agree with him on everything, I'm certainly in the Christopher Hitchens camp about recognizing the numinous doesn't have to belong to the world of the religious, when he says, "It's innate in us to be overawed by certain moments, say, at evening on a mountaintop or sunset on the boundaries of the ocean. Or, in my case, looking through the Hubble telescope at those extraordinary pictures. We have a sense of awe and wonder at something beyond ourselves, and so we should, because our own lives are very transient and insignificant. That's the numinous, and there's enough wonder in the natural world without any resort to the supernatural being required."
All things which are great fun to contemplate...
ORIGINALLY POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 4:46 PM
Next Saturday is the Vipassana CD release concert, May 16 at 8 pm at the Puffin Room (435 Broome Street in SoHo), $15 at the door! It has been a two year journey from our last performance of Vipassana to the studio to this concert and I hope you can come celebrate with us. There will be a reception after the performance and if you haven't already, you can purchase the new CD for a special price! The recording has been getting some good reviews and airplay with more features and reviews already planned for the coming months. I hope you can join us next Saturday for this rare opportunity to hear Vipassana live and for what plans to be a very special performance.
Numinous CD release concert
Saturday May 16th 8pm
The Puffin Room
435 Broome Street, New York City
Ben Kono, Tom Christensen, Ed Xiques (woodwinds), Jason Colby(trumpet/flügelhorn), Deborah Weisz, (trombone), Tom Beckham(vibraphone), Megan Levin, (harp), Amanda Monaco, Sebastian Noelle(electric guitars), Kris Davis, Brenda Earle, (pianos), Jared Soldiviero, Sam Levin, (percussion), Charenee Wade, Amy Cervini, Sara Serpa, Julie Hardy,Wendy Gilles (voices), Ana Milosavljevic, Skye Steele (violins), Carmel Raz, Nora Krohn (violas), Will Martina, Lauren Riley-Rigby (violoncellos),Thomson Kneeland, (bass), Joseph C. Phillips Jr., (conductor, composer)
In the Pali language of early Buddhist texts, vipassana means “to see things as they really are.” Today, vipassana is a type of meditation that seeks spiritual clarity and insight through silence. A four-part composition by Joseph C. Phillips Jr. featuring 25 instrumentalists and singers, Vipassana is 60 minutes of “beautiful noise”—a fluid and organic fusion of elements from contemporary classical, jazz, and popular music. As with much of my music, Vipassana humbly seeks to create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.
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While I don't completely buy the sentiment of the title, which comes from a recent article by Tom Hodgkinson in The New Statesman, nor agree totally with the arguments in the article, I find it thought-provoking. Particularly given the inspiration for my composition The Long Now is the idea of a future 10,000 years from now. I especially enjoyed the quotes in the article from Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy (1946). I'll actually have to go to the library and check it out "old school" style.
ORIGINALLY POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 10:13 PM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.