The news sounds like a broken record: No one is buying CDs. Au contraire. Those who appreciate contemporary classical music are spending their money on new recordings, released by several independent labels. And, the dedicated owners of these CD indies are inundated with submissions from composers and performers.

Music writer Joseph Dalton surveys the contemporary classical music scene in an online piece.

Neva Pilgrim, a co-founder of the Society for New Music, took time from her busy schedule assisting with Cazenovia Counterpoint to comment on the article. Here’s what she had to say:

Syracuse Post Full review

Meanwhile the city’s other homegrown label, BMOP/sound, continues to impress. This scrappy in-house operation run by conductor Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project was launched early last year, and it has released a steady stream of impeccably produced, beautifully packaged discs with exacting and engaged performances of 20th- and 21st-century music. Several elegantly probing pieces by Brandeis-based composer David Rakowski were recently featured on a BMOP/sound disc called Winged Contraption, including his Piano Concerto in a strong performance by Marilyn Nonken.

The Boston Globe Full review

“I am distressed about my CD sales, which have completely tanked. I talked to the head of my label about this, and he told me, ‘No one’s buying CDs.’ In effect, he said, ‘What makes you think you’re special?’ Everybody’s collapsing.”
- composer John Adams, Newsweek, February 5, 2009

“The recording industry is kaput.”
- violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Times Union (Albany, NY), February 8, 2007

NewMusicBox Full review

The American clarinetist and composer Derek Bermel is gaining increasing prominence as a postmodern force. His philosophy involves recreating the sounds of world music, jazz, rock, and funk in traditional instrumental genres, especially the symphony orchestra. This artistic viewpoint, of course, is hardly new; Mozart invoked the sounds of Turkish music, Debussy conjured the timbres of the Indonesian gamelan orchestra, and Bernstein was at home with jazz, Latin music, and the Western European canon.

American Record Guide Full review

Lukas Foss died aged 86 on 1 February 2009. His legacy as a composer is considerable and varied, and there were few areas of American musical life from the 1950s to the 1980s that did not feel his influence in some way. His important musical directorships, firstly at Buffalo and then at Brooklyn, Jerusalem, and Milwaukee, brought his controversial musical ideology into conflict with some of his audiences, performers and managers.

Tempo Full review

It remains a mystery why certain labels send their CDs to us. Like for instance BMOP/sound. It is a difficult job to cover these two of their new releases. They fall beyond the scope we usually cover. So I will be very descriptive only on these two. But first the label itself. It is the outlet of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. They perceive it as their mission to record important classical compositions of the 20th and 21st century. These two releases may illustrate this.

Vital Weekly Full review

Born in Vermont in 1958, David Rakowski is best known for his long series of witty, extravagant piano etudes. They have been often performed, and recordings of them have been praised by ARG’s reviewers: Bridge 9121 (July/Aug 2003), Albany 681 (Jan/Feb 2005), Bridge 9157 (Mar/Apr 2005). Rakowski has written much else, too, including three symphonies, five concertos, wind ensemble pieces, and chamber and vocal music.

American Record Guide Full review

John Harbison’s music is almost always engaging on an intellectual level—imaginative, ingeniously inventive, and distinctively orchestrated—but in spite of its essentially lyrical impulse, it can have a cold brilliance that doesn’t leap out to touch the emotions. The three works recorded here, written in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, appeal as much to the senses as to the intellect, making this one of the most attractive releases of the composer’s music.

AllMusic Full review

You might say that Derek Bermel (b. 1967) is the quintessential 21st-century musician. A composition student of Henri Dutilleux, Louis Andriessen, and William Bolcom (among others), Bermel is also an accomplished jazz clarinetist, has traveled the world exploring folk traditions, and performs (singing and playing keyboards and percussion) in a rock band. This staggering eclecticism is apparent in all four works recorded here.

Gramophone Full review

This recording from Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project includes two of John Harbison’s prominent vocal works, the Mirabai Songs and his opera, Full Moon in March. The former is based on a text by a 16th-century Indian mystical poet and street-dancer, while the latter is loosely adapted by the composer from a play by William Butler Yeats. The last piece on this recording is an elegiac tribute to Calvin Simmons, a young conductor of the Oakland Symphony who died in a boating accident.

Classical Voice of New England Full review

In a world of Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach, it’s not easy for modern composers to attract listeners. It’s also often highly challenging for musicians to prepare, play, and record works by contemporary composers. Thanks to the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), both composers and musicians have an opportunity to share their music with the masses.

International Musician Full review

Some have said that symphony orchestras are becoming museums. Perhaps that is true, but in Boston, exciting things are happening.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project is a relatively new ensemble devoted to the performance of new music. While that term seems to scare a lot of people, the music it offers is quite accessible and is likely to become part of the standard repertoire.

Door County Advocate Full review

It seems odd to call a program with five brand new orchestral pieces commonplace. But somehow it seems apt when talking about the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a group for whom the unexpected has become almost predictable. The five premieres on Friday’s concert spoke in vastly disparate languages, each of which BMOP’s fine orchestra and music director Gil Rose brought off as though it was a well-honed specialty.

The Boston Globe Full review

Derek Bermel, like many composers born in the late 1960’s, is a natural eclectic who uses classical forms and timbres as his principal medium and draws on jazz, pop, and world music when he wants a particular melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic twist.

The New York Times Full review

Exuberant performances of irrepressibly melodic, profoundly delightful music

Gramophone Full review

Lukas Foss died on February 1 of this year at the age of 86. Composer, conductor, orchestra builder, virtuoso pianist, and respected teacher, Foss wore many hats after he made his first big splash with this audacious song of praise to the American spirit. He had been composing since age seven, but it was Robert Shaw’s 1944 premiere of this work that brought him to the attention of the musical world. The Prairie was enthusiastically programmed by orchestras and choral societies throughout the country, and won the 1945 New York Music Critics’ Circle Award.

Fanfare Full review

The booklet informs us, ‘Lukas Foss, b. 1922’, but sadly, Foss passed away on February 1st of this year. So, a release which surely would have brought renewed attention to a worthwhile American composer now also must serve as a memorial.

International Record Review Full review

The enterprising new label BMOP/sound has another winner in their disk of music of clarinetist, composer, and jazz/rock musician Derek Bermel. The four works show his interest in various folk influences (including Bulgarian folk music), jazz and depicting the human voice instrumentally. Dust Dances resulted from a 4-month visit to Northwest Ghana where Bermel learned to play the Dargara gyil, a 14-key xylophone related to the marimba; in this 9-minute work he attempts to turn the symphony orchestra into a gigantic gyil.

ClassicalCDReview Full review

Here are some classical records that have been exciting us recently. Some are brand-new, some have been on the site for awhile, but we stand 100 percent behind all of them, and we hope you love them as much as we do.

BMOP and Bermel get busy with several generations and cultures’ worth of music:

Emusic Full review

John Harbison’s music is so ubiquitous here that you might think there was nothing more to discover. Yet until Friday, Boston had never heard Winter’s Tale, the Shakespeare-based opera he composed in the 1970s. The ever-intrepid Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s concert performance took place, ironically, on the first day of spring.

The Boston Globe Full review

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