Pianist-Composer Conrad Tao Hosts Hammered!

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For the remainder of July, Q2 Music invites Conrad Tao to guest host Hammered! Currently working on a joint degree from Columbia and Julliard, the 19-year-old composer-pianist recently released his debut album "Voyages" and earlier this month curated UNPLAY, a three-day new-music festival. Listen at 10 am weekday mornings for a series of special episodes curated by Tao.

By Conrad Tao

There is a long tradition of composers using music to explore memory. This week on Hammered!, listen to works that pay tribute to deceased loved ones, draw from historical memory, consider and imagine the process of remembrance, or evoke the idea more abstractly.

Two cycles of pieces begin the week: David Lang's Memory Pieces from 1992, and Maurice Ravel's Le tombeau de Couperin from 1917. Both of these works comprise movements dedicated to friends of the composers that had recently died. Here, they play off of each other, the playfully overlapping figures of David Lang's "Diet Coke" giving way to the running sixteenths of the "Rigaudon" from Le tombeau, the well-loved Wed (given a crystalline performance by Andrew Zolinsky) emerging from the wistful counterpoint of Ravel's "Fugue."

Tune in later this week for works by Frederic Rzewski thoughtfully recontextualize and memorialize the American folk canon. Gavin Bryars reflects on his own musical past in his Ramble on Cortona, and imagines a new one in After Handel's Vesper, a work inspired by a fictional oratorio in Raymond Roussel's novel Impressions d'Afrique.

And on Thursday, works by György Kurtág (performed by Marino Formenti as part of his superlative Kurtág's Ghosts project) frame a selection of pieces ranging from György Ligeti's mischievous Self-portrait with Reich and Riley (and Chopin in the background) to Christopher Tignor's Last Nights on Eagle Street for piano and electronics – "memory machines," as Tignor refers to them.