USC School of Music faculty rack up national reviews

USC’s School of Music faculty members are world-renowned musicians recording and traveling the globe. The Carolina family and Columbia community can enjoy dozens of concerts on campus by School of Music faculty throughout the year. These recent reviews of the latest performances and recordings will offer a taste of what you can experience on campus.

Associate professor Joseph Eller’s recent CD, “Bach in Time,” was reviewed by Pizzicato, Remy Franck’s classical music journal (translated from German) and in the 2013 American Record Guide. In addition to Eller, USC faculty members Jerry Curry, harpsichord, Robert Jesselson, cello, Jared Johnson, organ, Tina Milhorn Stallard, soprano are also heard on the CD.

“…Eller’s arrangements are not exactly easy, but allow him to use his stupendous instrumental skills to take this risk. Eller impressed with his phenomenal breathing technique that allows him to play long melodic lines, or even virtuoso cliffs effortlessly…” –Pizzicato

“…Eller has a pleasant timbre and excellent technique, and his phrasing is both expressive and genuine…his colleagues are solid, and the entire cast sells Eller’s transcriptions very effectively.” — American Record Guide

In December, USC professor of violin, William Terwilliger with pianist Andrew Cooperstock of Opus Two, presented a performance of music by Gershwin to a standing-room only audience at Bruno Walter Auditorium in New York City. The concert was reviewed by Jeffrey Williams for New York Concert Review.

“…I was expecting a smaller crowd because of the holiday weekend and the early afternoon starting time. Imagine my surprise, upon arriving, at the sight of a long line of about seventy people all hoping to get in, even though the hall was already filled! …Opus Two boasts the combined talents of William Terwilliger, violin, and Andrew Cooperstock, piano…Images by African-American period photographer, Richard Samuel Roberts, were projected on a large screen behind the performers and were a perfect visual accompaniment to the music…This was the sort of imaginative conception that one hopes for, even expects, when two exceptional musicians who really are of the same mind and spirit join together. Opus Two fulfilled this expectation throughout the concert. ‘Short Story, for Violin and Piano,’ was the only work originally written for this combination by Gershwin himself…the fine performance from the duo made that point clear. Kudos to Opus Two, for both their sophisticated reading and for sharing this little-known gem, which should gladden the heart of any Gershwin fan. The Three Preludes for Piano, also arranged for violin and piano by Heifetz, followed and were played with stylish assurance…Opus Two played with appropriate elegance and wit in yet another winning performance….” –Jeffrey Williams for New York Concert Review

USC assistant professor, Greg Stuart, has received a trio of accolades. Michael Pisaro’s 2013 “piece asleep, forest, melody, path” for field recordings in Congaree National Park and live performance premiered under Stuart’s direction with an ensemble of 30 USC School of Music and South Carolina Honors College students. Written for Stuart, the Columbia Museum of Art performance was reviewed by music critic Steve Smith in The New York Times ArtsBeat section on January 15.

“… I keep returning to this as-yet unreleased recording of a November 2013 concert in Columbia, S.C., in which Mr. Pisaro’s close collaborator Greg Stuart leads a 30-member ensemble in a patient, unpredictable, exceedingly beautiful mingling of simple structures, improvised textures and field recordings.” — New York Times ArtsBeat, Steve Smith

The New York Times Dec. 18 ArtsBeat, reviewed Nick Hennies and Greg Stuart’s performance of Kunsu Shim’s “Love.”
“Kunsu Shim, a South Korean composer based in Germany, busies two percussionists in his hour-long 2004 piece ‘LOVE’: one patting out simple rhythmic patterns using a variety of implements, the other countering with a sustained scrape and purr on rubbed surfaces. Gradually and almost inexplicably in this lucid, mesmerizing account, the two approaches fuse into a singular strain of austere sound poetry.”

Ian Parsons’ PBS blog “The Sound Barrier” had this to say about “Closed Categories in Cartesian Worlds”
“…the interplay of their subtly changing frequencies creates a treasure trove of sonic detail, must surely constitute one of the most richly challenging, richly rewarding, pieces of music to be released not only in 2013, but for a very, very, long time indeed…”

Michael Harley, assistant professor of bassoon and Alarm Will Sound member, was mentioned in this New York Times Music Review, reviewing an Alarm Will Sound concert at the Met Museum.

“…The piece that best demonstrated Alarm Will Sound’s unusual versatility was “Four Genesis Settings,” Mr. Pierson’s compelling arrangement of four passages from Mr. Reich’s biblical opera, “The Cave.” Alongside the skilled soprano Mellissa Hughes, three Alarm instrumentalists — the violinist Courtney Orlando, the violinist and violist Caleb Burhans and the keyboardist Michael Harley — sang Mr. Reich’s lean, buoyant melodies potently, with instrumental accompaniment subtly shifting and beguiling throughout.”

Caleb Burhans’ CD “Evensong,” which Alarm Will Sound plays the bulk of, made it onto NPRs 50 Favorite Albums of 2013.

“Caleb Burhans is a musical sponge. He’s soaked up Episcopal church music as a long time chorister, he’s played in disco and rock outfits and, as a multi-instrumentalist, he’s a member of a half-dozen new music ensembles. It all contributes to his agility as a composer, startlingly apparent on his strong, beautiful debut album, ‘Evensong.’ …There’s a trompe l’oeil for the ear with ‘The Things Left Unsaid.’ It poses as a single cello fed through a loop pedal, but in acoustic reality it’s a gorgeously blended cello octet. Discoveries are around every corner in “Evensong,” a thoroughly engaging introduction to a formidable young composer.” —Tom Huizenga

Via: USC School of Music