Pianist Sarah Cahill to Perform Lou Harrison Centennial Concert at Le Poisson Rouge
On Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 7pm, Le Poisson Rouge will present California-based pianist Sarah Cahill, "a brilliant and charismatic advocate for modern and contemporary composers" (Time Out New York), in a concert celebrating the hundredth birthday of maverick composer Lou Harrison with a wide range of his music spanning half a century: exuberant dance music from his early years, dissonant complexity from the 1940s, and lyrical works from the 1980s, as well as music by his close friends and colleagues including Henry Cowell, John Cage, Johanna Beyer, James Cleghorn, and Frank Wigglesworth.
The program will also include selections from Party Pieces, written in "exquisite corpse" style by Lou Harrison, Cowell, Cage, and Virgil Thomson, as well as unpublished and rarely heard scores. This concert is part of Cahill's year-long nation-wide tour celebrating Harrison, featuring concerts ranging from solo piano to chamber recitals and performances of Harrison's Piano Concerto and Concerto for Piano and Gamelan, to cities such as San Francisco, LA, Boston, Miami, Cleveland, Orlando, Maui, Chicago and more.
Cahill had the opportunity to work with Lou Harrison several times, and championed many of his works for piano. In 1997, Cahill was chosen to premiere his Festival Dance for two pianos with Aki Takahashi at the Cooper Union, and worked with Lou Harrison in rehearsals. She visited him several times at his home in Aptos, California, and copied rare scores from his collection. She was also chosen to perform Harrison's Dance for Lisa Karon, discovered only a few years ago and not heard since its premiere in 1938, and has performed his Varied Trio and a number of solo and chamber works in a Lou Harrison festival in Tokyo. In preparing Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto for performances with the Berkeley and La Jolla Symphonies, Cahill worked extensively with several of his colleagues and close collaborators.
Sarah Cahill, recently called "a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde" by The New York Times, has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous compositions for solo piano. Over forty composers have dedicated works to Cahill, including John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Julia Wolfe, Yoko Ono, Annea Lockwood, and Ingram Marshall. She has also premiered pieces by Lou Harrison, Toshi Ichiyanagi, George Lewis, Leo Ornstein, and many others. Keyboard Magazine writes, "Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers."
Cahill enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for each performance. She researched and recorded music by prominent early 20th-century American modernists Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford, and commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence. For the 80th birthday of composer Terry Riley, Cahill commissioned ten new works for solo piano in his honor and performed them with several of Riley's own compositions at Le Poisson Rouge and Roulette in New York, MIT, the Bakehouse Arts Center in Miami, the North Dakota Museum of Art, and other venues across the country. Cahill also premiered several of the new pieces at the first New Music Gathering at the San Francisco Conservatory in January 2015, with Terry Riley in attendance. Cahill has worked closely with Riley since 1997, when she commissioned his four-hand piece Cinco de Mayo for an all-piano festival at Cal Performances celebrating Henry Cowell's 100th birthday - the first of six works she has commissioned from him.
Cahill has performed classical and contemporary chamber music with artists and ensembles such as pianists Joseph Kubera, Adam Tendler, and Regina Schaffer; violinists Kate Stenberg and Stuart Canin; the Alexander String Quartet; New Century Chamber Orchestra; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; and many more.
Recent and upcoming appearances include a concert at San Quentin of the music Henry Cowell wrote while incarcerated there; four performances at the San Francisco Symphony's Soundbox; a residency at Dickinson College; the Festival of New American Music as both keynote speaker and performer; Music in the Mountains; concerts in New York City at the Italian Academy, Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and The Stone; a Lou Harrison 100th birthday celebration in Maui; aand Philip Glass' Etudes at Stanford Live with four other pianists including Glass himself. In spring 2016, Cahill performed post-minimal masterpiece Patterns of Plants by Mamoru Fujieda all day for five days at the Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York, surrounded by the iconic sculptures of Isamu Noguchi.
Sarah Cahill's discography includes more than twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, and Pinna labels. Her 2013 release A Sweeter Music (Other Minds) featured musical reflections on war by eighteen eloquent and provocative composer/activists, commissioned especially for the album. About A Sweeter Music the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Cahill brings her technical assurance and expressive warmth to all the music, making each piece that much more eloquent," and London's Financial Times called it "a unique commissioning programme that unites artistic aspirations with moral philosophy." In 2015, Pinna Records released her two-CD set of Mamoru Fujieda's Patterns of Plants, an extraordinary fusion of nature and technology created by identifying the musical patterns in the electrical impulses of plants. Cahill recently finished recording a three-CD set of Terry Riley's solo and four-hand music with pianist Regina Schaffer for release in fall 2017 on the Irritable Hedgehog label.
Cahill's radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. The program focuses on the relationships between classical music and new music, encompassing interviews with musicians and composers, historical performances, and exciting recordings outside the mainstream. Cahill is on the piano faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory and curates a monthly series of new music concerts at the new Berkeley Art Museum titled "Full," occurring on the night of each full moon. For more information, visit www.sarahcahill.com.