From Harlem to Italy, Appears of Homosexual Subversion


New York Competition of Track plan at Merkin Concert Corridor, “Tain’t Nobody’s Organization If I Do: Tracks of Gay Harlem.”

Conceived by Steven Blier, the festival’s creative director, operating with Elliott Hurwitt, a historian of early blues and jazz, the software available music from the Harlem underground, which include performs by Billy Strayhorn and Grainger, as perfectly as tunes popularized by Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters, Gladys Bentley and Ma Rainey — all of whom had, to various levels, exact-sex inclinations and involvements, even if some had been married through parts of their lives. Some of the tracks have been real obscurities, centered on scraps of handwritten melodies and lyric sheets excavated by Mr. Hurwitt from storage rooms at the Library of Congress.

The concert tried to recreate the ambience of a Harlem club. The soprano Bryonha Marie, the mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford, the tenor Joshua Blue and the baritone Justin Austin, all remarkable, were backed, nightclub fashion, by Mr. Blier and Joseph Li at two pianos, and by a smaller jazz combo.

method of works by the protean Italian modernist composer Sylvano Bussotti, organized by Luciano Chessa. Now 88, Mr. Bussotti has been working with gay themes in his items and residing with revolutionary openness as a homosexual man due to the fact the late nineteen fifties.

Born into an inventive family in Florence, Mr. Bussotti later examined composition in Paris and, in 1958, created his way to Darmstadt, Germany, a hotbed of modernism that was loomed in excess of at the time by Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Mr. Bussotti absorbed the methods of serialism and immersed himself in Darmstadt’s avant-garde aesthetics.

But his flamboyant actions disconcerted numerous colleagues, primarily Boulez, who retained his very own gayness closeted. Mr. Bussotti composed, in the late 1950s, an audaciously homoerotic song cycle and in subsequent years designed decadent theatrical operates, including operas checking out homosexual attract and seduction.

His new music is not properly recognised in The usa. So the program at Roulette was welcome.

The operates executed integrated gripping kinds that benefit from the composer’s extraordinarily thorough, graphically notated scores — web pages of which were being projected on a screen. The bass Nicholas Isherwood expertly merged richly sung and quasi-spoken phrases with myriad grunted, sputtered and shouted seems in his dynamic performances of “Foglio grigio” (for solo voice) and “Isherwood Isherwood” (for bass and piano, here Mr. Chessa).

“AUTOTONO” is published for open ensemble: Played from a single of the composer’s graphic scores, which options internet pages that seem more like drawings, the operate provides wide freedom for its realization. In this account, it was a mercurial fantasy, rich with fluttering cello bursts, alternately stentorian and whispered sung passages, skittish piano flights, and sliding riffs for electrical guitar.

But it was hard to find out about the centrality of gay themes in Mr. Bussotti’s work — or significantly of anything at all — from this live performance, which presented scant program notes and no English translations for the Italian-language vocal will work. The dwelling was saved dark and the phase minimally lighted, which established ambiance but also created it truly feel like Mr. Bussotti experienced been relegated back again into some gay underground.