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Topic: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

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  1. #1

    "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    Today's Washington Post had a quick and dirty review of the concert where my Unlikely Visions was premiered. The title of this thread gives you the main gist.

    The review is online here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...101601059.html

    At least it wasn't a total pan.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  2. #2

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    Hi Jamie,
    First of all, congratulations on having your piece performed! What an honor! Honestly, I wouldn't give much merit to anything said in the article - the reviewer seems to be in a bad mood - not much good was said about anything. I'd take it with a grain of salt and be proud knowing that the piece was played for the 35th Anniversary celebration. Very few composers had their work played for it, and you were one of the chosen few. Relish that.
    Take Care,
    Steph

  3. #3

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    Thanks Steph,

    Honestly, I'm not shocked or dismayed by the review. I was actually worried it might be much worse than it was. The only disappointment was that there is no good place to snip the words to get a positive sounding Post quote. I suppose I could really stretch it and say: "Evocative! - The Washington Post"... but that would be more for the humor than anything else.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    I wouldn't consider "Evocative! - Washington Post"... a stretch!


    See? (quoting the article now...) Jamie Kowalski's "Unlikely Visions." Its four short movements are evocative

    You could easily end that statement with a period. I'd go with it!!
    Take Care,
    Steph

  5. #5

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    "Evocative . . . .with dramatic anticipation . . . .most interesting . . . .a moment to shine . . ."

    Well, maybe sometimes "interesting" is a euphemism for something weird. But the other phrases sound nice to me!
    Richard Galbraith

  6. #6

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    I'd say that anyone whose business is words and who writes a sentence like "Its four short movements are evocative -- but of nothing in particular" can fairly be ignored.

    Any chance of seeing a GPO version on the forum, so we can hear for ourselves?
    Martin
    Canberra, Australia

  7. #7

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    I wouldn't necessarily take this as a bad review.

    The pieces are programmatic, right? Then "Evocative" is exactly what you were striving for. "Of nothing in particular" simply means the reviewer didn't get a specific picture in his/her head. That's fine -- I don't think anyone could listen to Rite of Spring and write "Evocative of a bunch of ancient Russian pagans dancing around," unless they were told beforehand of the programmatic content. It conjures feelings, emotions, and maybe scattered pictures, but not necessarily a cohesive filmstrip of imagery.

    That's what program music is for. If anyone sees *exactly* what you intend in your program music, then you're probably being to literal and need a good dose of subtlety! I would consider "Evocative of nothing in particular" high praise for a piece of program music!

    CONGRATULATIONS on a performance, and CONGRATULATIONS on having your piece written up in one of the nation's premiere newspapers!

    chris.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rpearl's Avatar
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    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    Jamie,

    It's not a rave, but it's not bad, either. When critics write like that it means, "Hmm, I like this, but can't articulate why...better not put my foot in my mouth." This is, of couse a problem with any new music - if it doesn't sound like something familiar, one often doesn't know where to begin.

    The real good news is that a.) your work was performed by a reputable ensemble, b.) the Post at least has a core of reviewers that go out into the community and hear stuff, as opposed to sticking to the Kennedy Center, and c.) we'll hear more from you, and the reviews will pick up.

    My first performance review was on the obit page - I have tried not to take that as an omen about my career...

    All the best.

    Ron

  9. #9

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    Thanks, all. Yes, I am overall happy to be reviewed and not torn apart. I do take it as a good thing... hard to see it any other way. Exposure is what I need most at this point. The Alexandria Gazette (a weekly) was also in attendance, but I haven't read their review yet. They interviewed me for a profile piece as well, so that should be fun!

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Ward
    Any chance of seeing a GPO version on the forum, so we can hear for ourselves?
    But of course! I posted the entire piece with mp3s and pdf scores on this thread. The third movement was not performed, since the length of the work was restricted by the rules of the composition contest this concert is part of. The reviewer's take on the "third movement" was actually for part IV, "Suddenly Moths."
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  10. #10

    Re: "Evocative -- but of nothing in particular."

    Hmmm.... looks like Chris and Ron have already stated my thoughts fairly well...

    So just a CONGRATULATIONS from me!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

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