Demetrius Spaneas, Michael Harrison and More Set for Annunciation Church's 'Faith & Culture' 2013 Lecture Series

Demetrius Spaneas, Michael Harrison and More Set for Annunciation Church's 'Faith & Culture' 2013 Lecture Series

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church presents "Faith & Culture," a ministry to inaugurate its first major programming endeavor this fall: a music-based lecture series titled Tastemakers & Pioneers curated by Marina Harrison. Serving to introduce the community to many creative disciplines of the humanities, "Faith & Culture" focuses on music, literature, history, film and theatre, and fine art. Several prominent individuals in the music community, considered innovators and highly-regarded experts, have committed to be a part of this season. All lectures will take place at 7pm and attendees are invited to special Meet-and-Greet Receptions with the artists afterwards.

The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, established in 1892, is one of the oldest Greek Orthodox Churches of the United States. They are proud of Annunciation's legacy of caring for their neighbor. "Faith & Culture" is one of many ways they achieve this.

Fall 2013 Series at a Glance:

Sep 20 Demetrius Spaneas IANIS XENAKIS: The Avant-Garde and Ancient Greek Culture

Oct 4 Stuart Isacoff A Natural History of the Piano: A Lecture With Musical Illustrations

Oct 25 Francisco J. Núñez The Unlimited Potential of Children

Nov 1 David Dubal A Plea For The Arts in The United States

Nov 15 Barrymore Scherer Strength in Numbers: Tracing Verdi's Musical Development Through His Ensembles

Dec 6 Michael Harrison Everything in Good Measure: Ancient Greek Principles of Tuning and Their Relevance to Music

All lectures take place at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 302 West 91st Street, New York, New York 10024. Call 212.724.2070 or visit ANNUNCIATION-NYC.ORG or email Subway: 1/2/3 to 96th Street; 1 to 86th Street. Admission: $20; $100 for all 6 lectures. For tickets, visit

Demetrius Spaneas

Friday, Sept. 20th, 7pm

IANIS XENAKIS: The Avant-Garde and Ancient Greek Culture

Demetrius Spaneas travels the world as a musical ambassador, connecting classical, jazz, and traditional music throughout the US, Eastern Europe, and Asia. He has worked with such diverse artists as John Cage, Ray Charles, and Kyrgyz traditional musicians, and has been featured soloist and composer at major concert venues and international festivals in the three continents. Through his work with the US Embassy system, he has presented concerts and lectures on American music and culture throughout the former Soviet Union. Interested in connecting cultures and creating international artistic dialogue through cultural diplomacy, his current initiatives focus on Central Asia, the Balkans, China, and Russia. To this end, he has been appointed a Fulbright Specialist in American Studies, Music and will be teaching in Tajikistan in summer 2013 through the Fulbright. He has won grants and awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, and other organizations, including a special certificate from the Russian Duma (senate) for enriching the cultural life of St. Petersburg.

Lecture Summary:

Greek Avant-garde composer Ianis Xenakis was one of the most important and influential composers of the latter half of the 20th century, constantly pushing the boundaries of music by combining it with mathematics, statistics, physics, and architectural concepts. Much of his philosophy and thought was based in Ancient Greek culture, even though for much of his life he was unable to live in Greece and considered himself somewhat of an outsider to his heritage.

This talk will explore the influence of Ancient Greece on Xenakis's major works, especially his large works for theater such as Oresteia.

Stuart Isacoff

Friday, October 4th, 7pm

A Natural History of the Piano: A Lecture With Musical Illustrations

Stuart Isacoff, a pianist, composer and writer, is the author of A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians-From Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything In Between (Knopf and Vintage in the U.S. with additional publishers worldwide). He was the founding editor of Piano Today magazine, which he directed for nearly three decades. Mr. Isacoff is also the author of the highly acclaimed Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization (Knopf/Vintage in the U.S.). A winner of the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music, he is a regular contributor on the arts to The Wall Street Journal as well as to many music periodicals and reference works such as Musical America and the New Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Mr. Isacoff is on the faculty of Purchase College (SUNY). He has given lectures and piano performances at numerous venues here and abroad, including The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Verbier Festival and Academy (Switzerland), Music@Menlo, Le Poisson Rouge, Bargemusic, The Portland Piano Festival, The Miami Piano Festival, The Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, The September Music Festival (Torino), The Gina Bachauer Foundation, The Van Cliburn Piano Institute and others. Stuart Isacoff's piano recitals often combine classical repertoire with jazz improvisation, demonstrating the threads that connect musical works created centuries and continents apart.

Lecture Summary:

In 1700, a technician named Bartolomeo Cristofori at the court of Ferdinando de Medici in Florence tinkered together a keyboard instrument capable of changing dynamics instantly in response to the finger pressure of the performer. Three hundred years later, it has evolved into the grand instrument that occupies center stage at most concert venues around the world. But it took more than half a century before anyone noticed the piano's true potential.

In this lecture/recital based on his book, A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians-From Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between (Knopf), Stuart Isacoff relates the story of the piano as it unfolded both in Europe and in a young America. And he probes how the myriad styles that emerged in both the classical and jazz traditions can be traced to the basic sounds produced by the instrument itself. Using the categories he created for his book, Mr. Isacoff will demonstrate how these compositional styles-the Combustibles, the Alchemists, the Rythmitizers and the Melodists-cut across both chronological period and musical genre.

Musical examples will include the first extant pieces written for the piano (Lodovico Giustini, 1732), as well as explorations of the styles of C.P.E. Bach, Beethoven, Jerry Lee Lewis, Couperin, Ravel, Debussy, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Bartok, Chopin, Schubert and others. Mr. Isacoff will include some performances of the "marriages" he creates between works from the classical and jazz repertoires, using improvisation to demonstrate the threads that connect them.

Francisco J. Núñez

Friday, October 25th, 7pm

The Unlimited Potential of Children

Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow, is a composer, conductor, visionary, leading figure in music education, and the artistic director/founder of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award-winning Young People's Chorus of New York City (YPC). YPC, which Mr. Núñez founded 25 years ago on a mission of diversity and artistic excellence, has changed the perception of the capabilities of a children's chorus: dramatically heightening an awareness of the unlimited potential of children to rise to unforeseen levels of artistry. Mr. Núñez also leads the University Glee Club of New York City, its fifth conductor since the all-men's chorus was established in 1894. He is sought after nationwide as a guest conductor by professional orchestras and choirs, a master teacher and advisor, and is a frequent keynote speaker as a leading authority on the role of music in achieving equality and diversity among children in today's society. With the creation of his Transient Glory and Radio Radiance commissioning series, Mr. Núñez has greatly expanded and invigorated the repertoire of choral music for young people with more than 70 works from today's most distinguished composers. He composes countless compositions and arrangements himself in all musical formats and styles for choirs, orchestras, and solo instruments, all of which are published by Boosey & Hawkes. Among Mr. Núñez's numerous awards are an ASCAP Concert Music Award, the New York Choral Society's Choral Excellence Award, and a Liberty "Ambassador" Medal from the New York Post. Hispanic Business magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics of 2005; General Motors Corporation hailed him as an unsung Hispanic hero; and La Sociedad Coral Latinoamericana named him its 2009 Man of the Year.

Lecture Summary:

As founder and director of the world renowned Young People's Chorus of New York City, Mr. Núñez has elevated the youth chorus to the ranks of serious contemporary music, commissioning and performing some of the most challenging works for youth choirs. His belief in the beauty of young voices and his commitment to experimenting with their boundaries and possibilities has allowed him to dramatically expand the expressive capabilities of the youth choir. Núñez will discuss how children and children's choirs have the capacity to transform lives and how they can also expand artistic boundaries and hold a special place in musical achievement.

David Dubal

Friday, November 1st, 7pm

A Plea For The Arts in The United States

David Dubal is internationally known as a pianist, teacher, writer and broadcaster. He is the host of "The Piano Matters" a program of comparative piano performances that can be heard on WWFM-FM and and other U.S. radio stations. He is the host of a weekly radio show on WQXR-FM, entitled "Reflections from the Keyboard" which ended in 2009 when New York Public Radio bought the station but in June 2013, "Reflections From the Keyboard" returned to WQXR-FM after a four-year hiatus. As a writer, Dubal has informed generations of readers. He is the author of many books, including The Art of the Piano, The Great Pianists, Men, Women and Pianos, Evenings With Horowitz, and The Essential Canon of Classical Music, an encyclopedic guide to the prominent composers of the Western canon. He has fostered relationships with most of the legendary pianists of the 20th century including Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould and Claudio Arrau.

Recipient of the first ASCAP Deems Taylor award for broadcast journalism, David Dubal has won numerous awards including the coveted George Foster Peabody award. He received an Emmy Award for "The Golden Age of the Piano" seen worldwide on Philips Classics VCR and Laser Disc. Mr. Dubal also received a proclamation from Mayor Giuliani for his services to music in New York City.

An original and provocative thinker, David Dubal has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School since 1983 and the Manhattan School of Music since 1995 and has influenced generations of students and audiences. He has performed recitals, master classes and lectures worldwide, and judged international competitions, including the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Mr. Dubal's commentary of art, war, technology and 'the masses' highlight a life beyond technology addiction, the need for true education, and importance of ending global war.

Lecture Summary:

Mr. Dubal will present a mesmerizing and entertaining commentary on the future and development of the arts in the United States drawing upon his unique insights and experience as both a key figure in the world of music and a prolific fine artist.

Barrymore Scherer

Friday, November 15, 7pm

Strength in Numbers: Tracing Verdi's Musical Development Through His Ensembles

Barrymore Laurence Scherer is a music and fine-art critic for The Wall Street Journal and a contributing editor of the magazines Antiques, and Art & Auction where he specializes in 19th century art & decorative art. He is author of the critically acclaimed book Bravo! A Guide to Opera for the Perplexed (Dutton-Plume), The History of American Classical Music (Naxos/Sourcebooks, 2007), and contributor to the book Giacomo Meyerbeer: A Reader (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008). Named a Speaker for the Humanities by the New York Council for the Humanities, he has taught on "Oscar Wilde and the Belle Epoque" at Sarah Lawrence College, and he has lectured extensively on opera, classical music, and the Victorian age for Lincoln Center Great Performers, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic as well as at venues around the country. On radio, he has been a regular commentator for NPR's "Performance Today," and on the nationally syndicated program, "First Hearing."

Lecture Summary:

Giussepe Verdi was not only Italy's supreme melodist, he was also its greatest musical dramatist. Though Verdi's arias are probably his most familiar excerpts, it is in the ensembles - trio, quartet, even a septet -where Verdi's inventive strength as a composer soars. The interweaving of multiple voices allowed him not just to create beautiful scenes of great musical power, but frequently of psychological insight. We will trace his development as a composer by examining some of Verdi's finest ensembles, from early works like Nabucco and I Lombardi through the great middle period of Rigoletto and on to the blazing genius of Falstaff. Throughout, we'll enjoy a flood of unforgettable melody, musical majesty and sometimes fatal romance.

Michael Harrison

Friday, December 6th, 7pm

Everything in Good Measure: Ancient Greek Principles of Tuning and Their Relevance to Music

Composer, pianist and music theorist Michael Harrison has been called "An American Maverick" by Philip Glass. With a uniquely personal style, Harrison's music is both forward looking and deeply rooted in different forms of traditional music. This perspective, alongside a simple and elegant gift for melody, makes him a composer that can reach audiences of many kinds.

Through his expertise in "just intonation" tunings, Indian ragas and rhythmic cycles, Harrison has developed a variety of tuning systems including the highly acclaimed "Revelation" tuning that is featured on his award winning composition of the same name.

As an apprentice to the visionary composer La Monte Young, Harrison became the only other person in the world to perform Young's 6 ½ hour opus, "The Well-Tuned Piano." In 1986, Harrison designed and created the "harmonic piano," an extensively modified grand piano with the ability to play 24 notes per octave. Kyle Gann from The Village Voice hailed the harmonic piano as "an indisputable landmark in the history of Western tuning," and the instrument is described in detail in the second edition of the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.

Harrison's compositions have consistently appeared on numerous best classical recordings lists including those of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Time Out New York, and NPR. He has performed his music and received premieres at the Spoleto Festival, Klavier Festival Ruhr in Germany, Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, American Academy in Rome, Newman Center for the Performing Arts in Denver, Music in the Morning in Vancouver , Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, United Nations, Symphony Space, Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92nd St. Y, Wordless Music Series, numerous Bang On A Can Marathons, and with Kronos Quartet at Carnegie Hall performing with his mentor Terry Riley on In C.

Lecture Summary:

Pythagoras and other ancient Greek philosophers and mathematicians discovered that musical harmonies arise naturally from mathematical relationships based on whole numbers. "Just Intonation" or "Pure Tuning" is the universal foundation for harmony. However, in Western classical music the use of temperament gradually compromised the purity of this system. Yet "just intonation" provides the foundation for most a cappella music of the West, from Gregorian chant and renaissance polyphony, to Byzantine music and "barbershop" harmonies, as well as the music of many world music cultures. A composer on the forefront of this field, Harrison will also play recorded excerpts, and discuss how returning to these ancient principles opens up unlimited potential with a "new" approach to "ancient" harmonies.

Pictured: Demetrius Spaneas at the Mozartiana Festival, Gdansk, Poland on August 20, 2010. Photo Credit: Henryk Halesa.