THE PRESS HAS SAID ABOUT CARSON KIEVMAN'S WORK
"Hamlet's (Opera) solo monologues are poignantly emotive, the beautiful arioso writing dramatically powerful... the ghost scene is wonderfully eerie... Horatio's final goodnight sweet prince is lyrically potent." The
New York Times
provides one of the most powerful musical experiences I have had in recent
times" Spoleto Today - Post and Courier
to the National Theater if you miss this you have only yourself to blame...
it is furious and phenomenal!" Mannheimer Morgen
is a Wizard," The Village Voice
Art," The Boston Globe
The New York Times
innovative and uplifting," Newsday
The Los Angeles Times
The New York Times
Sensation" Neue Zurcher Zeitung
Major New Trend" The San Francisco Chronicle
air was charged with electricity" High Fidelity/Musical
Melos fur Neue Musik
Associated Press International
beautiful and emotionally powerful …imaginative and far reaching" New
Sounds-National Public Radio
reminiscent of Arvo Part's music at its most hypnotic and personal"
is the antithesis of dentist-office music, but late at night, and with maybe
a bottle of good scotch at the side, this music should get the wheels turning."
extreme journey into uncharted musical territory" Muze
Cage would have loved it!" The Miami Herald
Kievman has created a unique and controversial form of music experience"
The New York Post
The Boston Globe
real musical mind," Soho Weekly News
striking space-age concept" The Gannet Newspapers
sensation" The Village Voice
truly original and artistically sensitive work" All
Marx Bros meet new music" The New York Times
original and brilliantly expansive work" All
endearing tendency to go off the deep end…. original in its outrageous flights
of fancy" The Los Angeles Times
visionary movement" All Classical Guide
The Denver Post
21 minute finale opens into an otherworldly realm that leads in the end to
celestial transcendence" Records International
Mahler might have written music like this had he been born after World War
II" New Times Miami
arresting experience… Haunting... the effect of the sudden stop was like a
sci-fi spaceship disappearing from view as it enters 'warp-speed'...gripping"
Sun Sentinel - Ft Lauderdale
special highlight was an 'Excerpt from Orchestra Suite #4' from the opera
'Intelligent Systems'" The SunPost - Palm Beach
work abstracts contemporary life and seeks to find, through a purely intuitive/associative
process, an authentic mythology of modern experience" ICI,
of the best pieces was 'Harpo' (as in Marx)" The
dream-world of sound. Hymnal strings were flecked with a tinkle of light percussion,
and the flow of celestial sound was punctuated by the groans of ominous, deep-throated
brasses... intriguing... appealing.... clever.... refreshing" The
Kievman's score is a brutal affair that employs both natural and amplified
sound. Yet he uses the harshness of most of his sounds, often magnificently
contrasted with more ethereal and haunting timbres, to conjure up an aural
picture of the hard world in which we live." "...Ordinary Rhythms,
choreography by Lynn Taylor-Corbett to a score by Carson Kievman, that was
the evening's biggest hit." The Philadelphia
"Kievman is a composer by trade and not a trained conductor, yet, apart from a few fudged entrances, he led a compelling, atmospheric performance. Keeping the precise notation and colors aligned and on track in such an intimate space is no mean feat, yet Kievman skillfully balanced Feldman's precisely notated music." The
composer to watch out for!" London Magazine
Kievman is a composer of extremely original music, which is rare" Olivier
Messiaen, composer and teacher
Kievman ranks among the foremost modern composers"
Joseph Papp, producer and mentor
UP, IT'S TIME TO GO TO BED!
BOSTON GLOBE REVIEW
11, 1978 / Richard Dyer, critic
about the premiere production of "Wake Up, It?s Time To Go To Bed!" at the
Tanglewood Music Festival.
causes stir at Fromm festival" "The Soundrama actually takes place in a single
moment-the moment that hovers between one thing and its opposite. Keats talked
about it in a line; Joyce expanded it into ?Finnegan?s Wake.? Our Orpheus
has a crowded mind early in the morning, and in it childhood memory, present
loss, and future resolution are simultaneous presences? Like the primordial
beginnings of Wagner?s ?Das Reingold?? It recalls the dawn-garglings of Ravel?s
?Daphnis and Chloe.? Why, one wonders, should the Fromm Foundation subsidize
someone?s therapy? On the other hand, great art is supposed to therapeutic
for those who make it and for those who respond to it. And it was hard not
to respond to this piece. Conflicting and compelling personality emerge from
it. I was fascinated and oddly moved."
VILLAGE VOICE REVIEW
5, 1979 / Leighton Kerner, critic
about a production of Wake Up, It?s Time To Go To Bed!" at the Public Theater,
New York City.
innovative composers still can work in New York?s popular musical theater.
Exhibit A: Stephan Sondheim?s ?Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street?
at the Uris. Exhibit B: Carson Kievman?s triple bill of "The Temporary & Tentative
Extended Piano," "Multinationals & The Heavens," and "Wake Up, It?s Time To
Go Bed!" at the Public. There may be others. I hope so. Nevertheless, taking
into account the recorded samplings I?ve heard from the competition, I have
to salute these two shows and none other for fighting the good fight against
music-theater solely of, by, and for the tired businessman. As a builder of
music-theater constructions, Kievman is a wizard! Orpheus as a modern artist-musician
is depicted in music of isolation. Jazz-like riffs murmur, moan, wail, and
scream from separate cells of shadow?the cumulative effect is often overpowering?
Kievman and his musicians conspire to reveal a theater where music is not
content to accompany speaking, singing, or dancing, and is not inclined, no
matter how entertainingly, to imitate non-musical components, but takes over,
instrumentally pure, tolerating
no accomplice-arts. To the extent that Kievman?s present work achieves this,
it is stunning!"
ENOUGH ROPE (TO...)
AMERICA/HIGH FIDELITY REVIEW
/ Joan La Barbara, music writer
are a number of interesting aspects to the music being produced by the younger
composers migrating to New York City from universities and music schools all
over the country. One of these elements is that of the reintroduction of theater
and thearical devices into the concert situation, something which seemed to
go out of vogue after the grand explosion of multi-media in the late '60s.
Seen through fresh eyes and minds, this new use of theater tends to enliven
the performance atmosphere, and bring the audience into closer contact with
the participants. In the first of the Composers' Forum concerts of the 1977-78
season (their home this season is the New School), Carson Kievman, a recent
import to New York from the Wesy Coast, provided a perfect example of this
blend of music and theater in his Just Enough Rope (to...). Scored
for four singers (SATB), trap-set drums, marimba, piano, a variety of percussion,
prerecorded tape, horns, and strings, it began quiet normally and reasonably
with long, rhythmically punctuated sections for all instruments. An ostinato
figure, set up initially in the marimba, disappears when the temble block
rhythms take over, only to return again in unison with the piano (prepared
in the lower register). The singers, whose lines at first mixed rather muddily,
began to blend in a lovely choral sound. Suddenly from the audience came a
yell, "This isn't music! They told me there was going to be Bach down here."
While the musicians continued, a bit shakily, the composer, who was also serving
as conductor, turned to the heckler and replied "Do you know how hard it is
to get one of these things together?" The staid atmosphere that had prevailed
up to that point had been changed in that brief repartee. We were in for something
here and the air was charged with electricity. The music continued for a few
minutes and the Kievman turned to the heckler again, "Better?" Aha, I thought,
just as I suspected. The heckler was part of the piece, one of the performers.
The battle between heckler and the composer continued through the evening
amid some purposful confusion on the composer's part, calling out section
numbers and then changing his mind and redirecting the performers to another
part of the piece. As the steel drum took up the ostinato figure and the singers
broke into a silly/pseudo-serious chorale, the heckler stormed out. Musically
matters continued to worsen, the confusion of sections became wilder and the
entire proceedings finally collapsed with a shrug of the composer's shoulders.
A GO-AHEAD FOR
As theater and as
a musical event the performance worked in its spoof of concerts, urging us
to laugh at what has become an almost over-serious circumstance in many cases,
with the audience too afraid to relax enough to know whether the composer
has intended humor. In this case, the confusion between what was real and
what not, what mistakes and stumblings were intended and which were the result
of the overall melee, contributed to the effect, bringing the audience so
far into the piece, empathizing with the performers' plight. that the lines
between us vanished. No one seemed quite sure if we were laughing at the performers,
at the piece, at each other, or at the situation, but we all seemed to be
having fun. I was reminded of some lyrics from a Stanley Silverman/Richard
Forman song from their production Dr. Selavy's Magic Theater. The
song was a rather dark look at "Life on the inside/looking mighty dim/when
you're on the outside looking in." But each time the song reappeared the words
"inside" and "outside" were juxtaposed so that one never knew if life was
better on the outside or on the inside. Kievman's situation never gave one
the feeling of despair of the Foreman/Silverman songs, but the inside/outside
confusion was there indeed.
& THE HEAVENS
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW
17, 1979 / Ken Emerson, critic
about a production of Wake Up, It?s Time To Go To Bed!" at the Public Theater,
New York City.
Mark Brothers (including cousin Karl) meet the new music in Carson Kievman?s
madcap program of three ,Soundramas,? collectively titled: Wake Up, It?s Time
To Go To Bed! Mr. Kievman has lavished comic ingenuity upon scoring and staging?.the
piece is so entertaining that it?s hard to knit your brow while your laughing
uproariously?the music is enthralling? Tours de Farce!"
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW
April 24, 1993 / Alex Ross, critic
about a workshop of two scenes from "California Mystery Park" presented
by American Opera Projects, NYC.
Operas in Progress" "California Mystery Park," finally is an ambitious drama
detailing domestic crisis and inter-racial tensions in Postwar America. The
central characters are a World War II veteran and his estranged Japanese daughter;
in the two scenes presented Wednesday, the drama took place mostly over the
phone, with mean-spirited relatives joining in as a chorus. Mr. Kievman, perhaps
influenced by Robert Ashley [the composer notes: As of (2/11/98) he has never
seen or heard a Robert Ashley work. CMP was written in 1979/80] delights in
multilayered textures in which as many as a dozen people (among them Ron Raines,
Diane Kesling and the mellifluous Stephanie Park) recite and sing simultaneously.
The plot is overloaded, but Mr. Kievman demonstrated considerable virtuosity
in shepherding disparate elements together. If the primary emotional themes
could be kept distinct this opera might have a powerful effect."
RHYTHMS (Music for Piano, Percussion and Large Orchestra)
PHILDELPHIA INQUIRER REVIEW
/ Michael Caruso, critic
Rhythms" in World Premiere by Pennsylvania Ballet Theater.
Rhythms "in World Premiere "The Pennsylvania Ballet saved the best for last
this past Thursday night when it opened the first of two programs to be performed
in June at the Shubert Theater. Although much og the choreography and dancing
that preceded it was excellent, it was Ordinary Rhythms, choreographed
by Lynn Taylor-Corbett to a score by Carson Kievman that was the evening's
biggest hit. Ordinary Rhythms is one of those marvelous new works for
dance that combines a good deal of the freedom of movement we sometimes associate
only with modern dance with the precision and virtuosity we can only find
in ballet. It also employes virtually a full company of dancers, utilizing
14 in varied, well-balanced roles. While not specifically plot oriented in
the Romantic tradition, Ordinary Rhythms nonetheless makes a statement.
It almost has to because both its music and the dance based upon that music
draw inspiration from the popular music and dance of our time, and no one
can build a work of art upon the foundation of the sound and look of the punk/new
wave phenomenon with making some sort of comment upon it. Mr. Kievman's score
is a brutal affair that employs both natural and amplified sound. Yet he uses
the harsness of most of his sounds, often magnificently contrasted with more
etheral and haunting timbres, to conjure up an aural picture of the hard world
in which we live. Miss Taylor-Corbett, fortunately, goes beyond merely reflecting
in movement the sound of the score. She paints, via the human body, a picture
of a fenzied world deparately searching for some means of contact........
Its risky to call any work a masterpiece after only one view. Still, I think
its safe to write that Ordinary Rhythms is certainly a canadate for
OF THE WHITE WOMAN
January 17, 1995 / Susanne Kaulich, critic
about a workshop of Act 1 from "Songs of the White Woman" during an
all Kievman triple-bill at the Mannheim Nationaltheater, Germany.
Kievmans Verrücktes Musiktheater in Mannheim" "Run to the Nationaltheater,
if you miss this you have only yourself to blame ! It is furious and phenomenal
! Liebevolle Ironie/mischt Kievman in die ernste Thematik seiner "Songs of
the White Woman". Darin heftet sich Komponist aüf die Spuren einer sogenannten
"veruckten", Ahnlichkeiten mit Fällen einer lebenden Person sind nicht zufällig:
Inspiriert zu der Ein-Personen-Oper wurde Kievman durch seine New Yorker Nachbarin
die den sinn für des Alltagliche verliert und in ihrer eigenen Welt lebt."
Harpo (1986), although filled with dry humor, is written in a wistful style
with plenty of silences that "define the unusual syncopations,"
according to pianist Joseph Kubera. Deliberate awkward hesitations, and stark
contrasts (the innocent F-minor music-box theme interrupted by frantic, dissonant
outbursts) all of which heighten the sense of spontaneity and the transparency
of the momentary actions. The
writing style lies between modal pattern music and the rhythmic angularity
of some serial music.
NEW YORK CONCERT REVIEW - Imani Winds
Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall - November 5, 2001 / Daniel
Imani means "faith" in
Swahili; in any language, this broad and good concept is palpable in the healthy
and up-beat pres-entation of the Imani Winds. Presented by Artists Interna-tional
as a Winner of its twenty-ninth Annual Young Artists Chamber Music Award,
this quintet of players offered the refreshingly new vista that informs their
mission as perform-ers and educators. In their aim to bridge the gaping yaw
be-tween European and African/Latino musical traditions, Imani Winds fills
the chasm with newly written works, deft ar-rangements of traditional tunes,
and the opportunity for us to reconsider some classic repertory in light of
these juxtaposi-tions. This might constitute a risky departure from the status
quo, but having built on the solid foundation of classical con-cepts, they
raise a standard and clear new territory, leaving crusty old habits and expectations
Their invigorating approach makes
a joyful noise and will pave the way for others to join in seeking new directions.
By both design and effect, Imani Winds brings entertainment and valuable social
conscientiousness to their performance. En-larging and uniting are noble qualities,
and Imani achieves them in one hearty embrace. .....
Another World Premiere, Sirocco
by Carson Kievman, opened the program's second half. Mr. Kievman's musical
description of this unwelcome wind that blows malcontent through the civilized
world was evocative and certainly pref-erable to the real thing. The Imani
Winds shared the applause with Kievman. By now, the audience had heard a bounty
of European, American, African, and Latino influences and entire works.
SoBe Institute paints a delicate `Rothko Chapel' (Conducting Review)
THE MIAMI HERALD - SMI Chamber Ensemble
SoBe Music Institute - December 6, 2008 / LAWRENCE A. JOHNSON
Few composers offer such a study in stark contrast between themselves and their art as Morton Feldman offers. Burly and cigar-chomping, Feldman worked in the garment district during the day and, in his spare time, composed pointillist, elliptical music that is as delicate and ethereal as he was loud and gregarious.
The SoBe Music Institute presented Feldman's Rothko Chapel Friday night at the Fischer Clubhouse in Miami Beach, yet another enterprising event by Carson Kievman's fledgling conservatory which is adding a smart, offbeat dynamic to the local music scene.
Feldman was inspired by many of his artist friends, particularly by Mark Rothko, whose huge canvases inhabit the same massive scale as many of Feldman's hours-long works. By comparison, Rothko Chapel, written for the eponymous Houston meditation space where 14 of the painter's late works reside, is a work of atomistic compression.
Scored for viola, keyboard, percussion, soprano and small choir, it spans just 25 minutes yet inhabits the spare, evanescent landscape of Feldman's finest works. Fragments and repeated notes appear and recede; isolated timbres and colors register, mingle briefly and proceed on their way. A sudden mezzoforte viola pizzicato or shift in the choir's harmonics seems seismic amid the prevailing concentrated quiet.
Friday's performance offered an apt retro countercultural milieu in the converted park clubhouse that is the institute's home, with most of the audience, which included a few well-behaved children, sitting on the floor. On a wall, projected slides of Rothko paintings formed a mutating visual counterpoint to Feldman's music.
Some concessions were necessary. A mere handful of singers formed the choir, and in order for the projections to be visible, the small ensemble had to be placed in the middle of the rectangular room, which meant the audience mostly looked at the musicians from the side and back. But the acoustic is so alive and present that the sound was superb just the same.
Kievman is a composer by trade and not a trained conductor, yet, apart from a few fudged entrances, he led a compelling, atmospheric performance. Keeping the precise notation and colors aligned and on track in such an intimate space is no mean feat, yet Kievman skillfully balanced Feldman's precisely notated music.
Members of the SMI Chamber Ensemble, including violist Scott O'Donnell and keyboardist Adam Chefitz, collaborated superbly, and, in particular, the scrupulously calibrated dynamics of percussionist Mark Schubert set and maintained the right evocative mood.
The Feldman performance was preceded by two shorter works cast in the same valedictory spirit. Violinist Taichi Akutsu offered a sturdy reading of Bach's Chaconne, and soprano Rebekah Diaz was an admirable, rich-voiced soloist in Desdemona's Ave Maria from Verdi's Otello.
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