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A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation

"Musicians like Evan Parker and Anne LeBaron and Charlotte Hug and Joe McPhee and Milford Graves and Han Bennink and Peter Brötzmann and George Lewis and Steve Beresford and Paul Lovens are among the great artists of our era.  It may be awhile before history recognizes them for this, but I’m confident that it will come to pass.”

     Rhys Tranter interviews John Corbett (July 20, 2017)

 

Panic Duo in Pasadena

“Fissure is a finely crafted, heavily atmospheric piece that operates effectively on several levels and vividly portrays the emotional drama present in the famous story by Edgar Allen Poe.”

     Sequenza 21 – Paul H. Muller (Dec. 15, 2016)

 

L.A. composers, singers take center stage at SongFest 2015

“It was a big weekend for LeBaron. Scenes from her provocative "LSD: The Opera" were staged Friday and Saturday at REDCAT in Los Angeles. For her new song cycle, she picked five poems by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet who mingled sensuality with spirituality, his writing sharing, perhaps with LSD, the capacity to alter one's perception of the world by drawing attention to small details.

"The vocal writing evokes the unexpected. Throughout the fives songs, LeBaron's pitches reflect Rumi's new creatures that "whirl in from nonexistence." In one song, a thirsty man picks walnuts from a tree not for sustenance but for the music they make when thrown into a pool. LeBaron has the singers place stones on piano strings and reflect in their voices the haunting string resonances.

"Poems are rough notations for the music we are," Rumi ends the beautiful final song of the cycle. LeBaron let the sentiment resonate, as though it might ring on and on as motto for singers in a celestial SongFest."

     LA Times, June 23, 2015

 

Work-in-progress ‘LSD: The Opera’ is powerful musical theater

“Even this partial dose of "LSD" is already powerful music theater. The libretto by Gerd Stern, Ed Rosenfeld and LeBaron has a sense of vivid authenticity. The drug is, moreover, given an intriguing feminist spirit. A trio of female singers personify LSD and the experience it provides. Pinchot Meyer and Laura Huxley serve as the true guiding spirits to the needy, lecherous Leary and Aldous Huxley. The Partch instruments provide the perfect complement for a substance of mysterious political, psychic and social power.”

     LA Times, June 21, 2015

 

Exploratory ‘First Take’ presents six operas in progress

“Finally, there was Anne LeBaron's acid trip that many in the audience had been clearly waiting for. She had composed the Industry's first opera, "Crescent City." In "LSD: The Opera," she expands consciousness with an expanded orchestra, incorporating Harry Partch's gorgeously weird microtonal instruments into the orchestra in a way no one has thought of before.”

     LA Times, Feb. 22, 2015

 

Review: Anne LeBaron’s unexpected body of work can amaze at REDCAT

“Anne LeBaron is a composer as transformer. She transforms instruments, such as putting objects on the strings of the harp to tease out hidden sounds. She transforms cultural contexts, be they Kazakh, Bach or Katrina.

"She deals with what we know, with issues of our time and place. But her knack is for alternative realities, showing us the here and now from a point just slightly off the beaten track.

"There is, in LeBaron's music, a leaving the body and a celebration of the body, meditations on death and breath. Laura Huxley's aria was followed by a bassoon duet that, with the added benefit of electronics, mimicked the sounds of frogs and hysterical monkeys. It was amazing.”

     LA Times, Apr. 15, 2014

 

Critic’s pick: Anne LeBaron portrait concerts

“She is on the wavelength of most of our musical institutions. She is a favorite of Southwest Chamber Music. Her environmentally mystical opera “Wet” had its premiere at REDCAT in 2005. Two years ago, she made a real splash with her hyper-opera “Crescent City,” performed by L.A.’s vital new experimental opera company, the Industry.”

     LA Times, Apr. 15, 2014

 

Roulette: Anne LeBaron

“The essential Brooklyn new-music hub gives the stage to this admired West Coast experimentalist, who is an innovative performer on the harp as well as an unusually inventive composer.”

     The New Yorker, Nov. 14, 2013

 

Experimental City – Los Angeles’ operatic dimensions

“The big buzz last year, however, was Crescent City, the Industry’s first production in an old warehouse in Atwater Crossing [ii]. Its composer Anne LeBaron is a New Orleanian who now teaches at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) based in Santa Clarita in one of Los Angeles’ northern valleys. A former student of Mauricio Kagel and György Ligeti, LeBaron has pushed the boundaries not only of opera, but of instrumental music. I heard her monodrama Some Things Should Not Move (about her experiences in a haunted apartment in Vienna) at The Colburn School’s Zipper Hall in March and can well understand how an eventual production of that opera, when it is complete, might make a virtue of positioning the audience in a haunted space (if indeed that’s the direction it goes in).”

     Symphony Services International, 2013


Of wine and white jackets, composing women and killer whales: the start of the 2012 Hollywood Bowl season

“The best of the new works was American Icons by Anne LeBaron. If there is an “it” composer in Southern California right now, she’d hold the title, so it is more than a little surprising that this was the first time any of her compositions had been performed by the LA Phil.  Better late than never.  This is a clever work, drawing sounds and rhythms that are clearly evocative of a variety of American musical genres without sounding like an over-intellectual parody.  The contrasting sounds blend and crash into each other in complex yet entertaining ways.  It is a compact tour de force.”

     All is Yar, July 17, 2012

 


Review: Beethoven's Ninth a joy as L.A. Phil's Hollywood Bowl opener

“Anne LeBaron's "American Icons" — a fanfare commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy Center in Washington and premiered in 1996 when Slatkin was music director of the National Symphony — is a four-minute musical firecracker of hepped-up fragments of '50s pop music bashing heads. An organ blasts through it, Hammond-like. It's a riot, and as happily far from Beethoven as you could possibly imagine.”

     LA Times, July 11, 2012

 

Better Moves By LeBaron

“An idiosyncratic visionary in the mode of George Crumb and John Zorn.”

     LA Times, July 8 2012

 

Music review: Southwest Chamber Music enjoys Eastern flair

“Anne LeBaron, on the faculty at CalArts, happens to be the local composer of the moment with her breathtaking opera "Crescent City" currently in production and a piece on the Los Angeles Philharmonic's opening Hollywood Bowl concert in July…LeBaron's "Solar Music," which featured flutist Larry Kaplan and harpist Alison Bjorkedal, is full of striking, emphatic tonal colors.” 

     LA Times, May 23, 2012

 

The Industry presents a problematic but memorable premiere: Anne LeBaron’s “Crescent City: A Hyperopera”

“I thought the opera’s score to be superb. It could easily be staged in a conventional manner…”

     Opera West, May 22, 2012

 

Los Angeles Theater Review: CRESCENT CITY: A HYPEROPERA

"Equal parts opera, avant-garde, art installation and phantasmagoria, the result, if you can handle it, is a jaw-dropping, perplexing, exciting, fun, challenging, exasperating, noteworthy, and exciting theatrical experience the likes of which you may never see again."

     Stage and Cinema, May 18 2012

 

New L.A. Opera Company Hits with "Crescent City" Hurricane

“More "Eraserhead" than "Ernani" in its visceral impact, the world premiere of composer Anne LeBaron’s challenging, discordant "Crescent City" introduces Los Angeles to its brand new opera company The Industry this month in Atwater Village.”

     laist, May 17, 2012
 

Review: The Industry’s New Hyperopera Crescent City

“The bleeding edge of modern theatrical performance art. LeBaron has cooked up a complex, exotic, polyrhythmic gumbo of sound. The images are indelible, and it is a production you will not soon forget…Preservation Hall on acid.”

     CultureSpot LA, May 15, 2012

 

Review: Industry's remarkable 'Crescent City' reshapes L.A. opera

“LeBaron's score includes a complex of styles. There is the Cajun and Creole music, the jazz and zydeco from her native New Orleans, which LeBaron layers to create atmosphere. She is fluent in grandly operatic manner and in the language of avant-garde. A lot can happen at once, or she can focus very simply on the moment. This too is a perspective that is always changing, and always captivating.”

     LA Times, May 11, 2012


An edgy opera company gives it a go in Los Angeles

“As unorthodox as the story line, music and sets are, the relationship of the audience to "Crescent City" itself may be even stranger. Audiences can view the work from beanbag chairs in the set's approximation of a dive bar, from what Sharon jokingly calls a skybox set over the action, or while walking along a pedestrian area along the edge of the stage. The latter option, he says, "allows you to look at it from the perspective of performance art or a gallery," with a shifting point of view and accidental connection with other audience members.”

     LA Times, May 9, 2012

 

Reviews: Sucktion (Musikwerkstatt Wien)

“Anne LeBaron’s Irona (the Housewife) translated the soap operas and household chores defining Irona’s daily existence into a musical language that sucessfully combines electronic pop elements and repetitive patterns into the trash aesthetic of television.” 

     Wiener Zeitung, May 2012

“Hilariously funny and unexpectedly surreal – Musikwerkstatt Wien has once again landed a real highlight!”

     Merker Dusek, May 2012

 

 Reviews of Silent Steppe Cantata (premiere in Kazakhstan, 2011)

“Anne LeBaron thoroughly studied the musical culture of our country and, based on it, has composed her own work. Dramatic action unfolds in three languages -Kazakh, Russian and English. The silence of the great Steppes and the memory of that silence - is golden.”                                  

     Vera Lyahovskaya, Izvestiya

 “This is a very special project and a rare occasion, when American composers show such interest in Kazakh culture.”

     Galiay Shimyrbaeva, Kazakhstan Pravda 

“The new sounds of Kazakh instruments and a completely different view from the outside- an interpretation of nomadic culture in a radiant and unconventional design.”

     “Headline Evening News”, TV channel Khabar

 

Review: 1, 2, 4, 3 (Innova)

“The artist inhabits her massive instrument as if it were a continent; she fords its rivers of strings and discovers new worlds in the crevices of tonality… nervous and hoarse and brilliant. LeBaron is a true “stratigrapher” in her layering of material, where new vistas seem to unfold endlessly behind others.”

      The New York City Jazz Record, Aug. 2011

"A giantess of the harp..."

     Marco Paolucci, Kathodik

 

Music Review: Southwest Chamber Music

Le Baron’s Solar Music was mesmerizing.  The composer was in attendance, and in her remarks said that the pre-existing title was apropos to the dynamic of her work although was chosen post-hoc to its composition.  The reference is to Mexican surrealist painter Remedios Varo’s work with “a woman standing in a dying forest, bowing rays of the sun.”

     CultureSpot LA, Aug. 13, 2010

 

Cyber opera with a vacuum

“The vacuum cleaner here is an unusually responsive model with a long hose and electronic sensors that sonically interact with a singer's every squeal of delight. But the interaction between acoustic and electronic music -- and between traditional vocal sounds, nontraditional vocal sounds and all those transformative auditory sensors -- is where the interest lies.”

     LA Times, Aug. 2, 2008

 

'Wet' is splashy but muddy

“LeBaron's writing for the instrumental ensemble is full of invention, sometimes avant-garde and sometimes not. Cultures never collide, but many coexist. Her fluidity with musical style and with musical character is the real wetness of "Wet." The instruments offer watery unpredictability and readily take the shape of any container (or musical form).”

     LA Times, Dec. 3, 2005


Composer tunes into aural universe

“Anne LeBaron hears music in almost everything: vacuum cleaners, bellowing frogs and "processed" voices.”

     LA Times, Oct. 23, 2002