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Karen Monson

revised by Michael Baumgartner

Ensemble. Formed in New York in 1961 by the violinist Lewis Kaplan, the Aeolian Chamber Players were the first American ensemble of mixed instruments to perform together on a permanent basis. The group, which first played at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, in October 1961 and made its New York debut shortly thereafter (Town Hall, January 1962), originally consisted of Kaplan, flutist Harold Jones, clarinetist Robert Listokin, and pianist Gilbert Kalish. A cello was added in 1966, with the flute rarely used since 1977. The group has been the resident ensemble at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, since 1964, where the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, co-founded and directed by Kaplan, takes place. Former members of the ensemble include Jennifer Langbaum and Ronald Thomas (cello), and Charles Neidrich and Thomas Hill (clarinet). The present group includes Kaplan (violin), André Emelianoff (cello), and Peter Basquin (piano). The group, which is recognized for its commitment to both traditional and contemporary repertoire, has toured throughout the United States and Europe. At the Salzburg Festival of ...

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Tully Potter

English string quartet. It was founded in 1926 as the Stratton Quartet by George Stratton, William Manuel, Lawrence Leonard and John Moore, and developed from the Wood Smith Quartet, in which Stratton and Moore played. It found fame after Carl Taylor and Watson Forbes took over the inner parts in 1932 and it was chosen to record Elgar's Quartet and Piano Quintet (with Harriet Cohen). The records were a great solace to the composer in his last illness. Moore remained with the ensemble until 1956 and Forbes until 1962; but Taylor was killed in the war and in all the quartet had 11 second violinists. The leadership also changed hands a few times after Stratton withdrew in 1944 and the title Aeolian Quartet was adopted. The later incumbents, all highly distinguished, were Max Salpeter (1944–6), Alfred Cave (1946–52), Sydney Humphreys (1952–70) and Emanuel Hurwitz. Many of the various formations were perpetuated on records. In particular the line-up of Humphreys, Trevor Williams, Forbes and Derek Simpson made beautiful recordings of Mozart's ‘Dissonance’ and Beethoven's last quartet in ...

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Akwid  

Elijah Wald

Musical group formed in 2002 in Los Angeles. The most successful exponents of the Southern California style known as “banda rap” or “urban regional” music, Akwid is a duo of brothers Francisco and Sergio Gómez. Born in Michoacan and raised in Los Angeles, the Gomezes made their debut in the mid 1990s as English-language rappers Juvenile Style, then switched to Spanish and renamed themselves Akwid (a combination of their deejay pseudonyms, A.K. and Wikid) in 2000.

Their first album gained only lackluster sales, but after they signed with a subsidiary of Univision in 2003, their second, Proyecto Akwid, sold a third of a million CDs. Its sound mixed traditional Mexican music—especially the West Coast brass band style known as banda—with rhythms and studio techniques adapted from gangsta rap. Other groups were attempting similar fusions, but where most had to rely on outside producers, Akwid controlled their own sound and created a particularly organic musical combination, driven by the thump of tuba samples and clever use of familiar ...

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Alabama  

David B. Pruett

Country music group. Acknowledged by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) in 1989 as the Artist of the Decade for the 1980s, Alabama is arguably the most celebrated country music group in the history of the genre. Three of the band’s members—lead vocalist Randy Owen (b Fort Payne, AL, 13 Dec 1949), multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cook (b Fort Payne, AL, 27 Aug 1949), and bassist Teddy Gentry (b Fort Payne, AL, 22 Jan 1952)—had been performing their unique blend of southern rock and country pop together throughout the American South since 1969. Beginning in 1974, the group began playing regular shows in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where drummer Mark Herndon (b Springfield, MA, 11 May 1955) became the group’s fourth and final member in 1979, one year before Alabama signed with RCA. The group’s first major label release My Home’s in Alabama (RCA, ...

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George J. Grella Jr.

Ensemble. Originally a group of students performing in new music concerts at the Eastman School of Music, Alarm Will Sound was formed professionally by artistic director Alan Pierson and managing director Gavin Chuck in 2001. The group made its debut in May of that year at Miller Theater, Columbia University, with Desert Music and Tehillim by Steve Reich. After giving several programs, each devoted to a single contemporary composer, the group began to both commission new works—including John Adams’s Son of Chamber Symphony, Wolfgang Rihm’s Will Sound, and David Lang’s Increase—and to perform arrangements of other music, notably Varèse’s Poeme Electronique, by the composer Evan Hause, and the rhythmically complex electronic dance music of Aphex Twin, Mochipet and Autechre, and the Beatles’ “Revolution 9,” all arranged by ensemble musicians. The group also began adding staging and other theatrical elements to their live performances, developed with director Nigel Maister. These took a range of forms, from stage blocking to the musical theater piece ...

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Tully Potter

Austrian string quartet . It was founded in 1970 by Günter Pichler (b Kufstein, Tyrol, 9 Sept 1940), Klaus Mätzl, Hatto Beyerle and Valentin Erben (b Pernitz, 14 March 1945). Mätzl was replaced in 1978 by Gerhard Schulz (b Linz, 23 Sept 1951) and Beyerle in 1981 by Thomas Kakuska (b Vienna, 25 Aug 1940; d 4 July 2005). In 1969 the original members heard the LaSalle Quartet play virtually all the quartet music of the Second Viennese School at the Vienna Festival; and for the 1970–71 season they studied in Cincinnati with the LaSalle. In the autumn of 1971 they made their joint début at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, becoming the first full-time string quartet in that city's history – previous ensembles had combined chamber music with orchestral playing. In 1972 Berg's widow gave them permission to use his name. From the start the Alban Berg Quartet tried to include a contemporary work in every recital: its premières have included works by Leitermeyer, Einem, Wimberger, Rihm, Schnittke and Berio, and two each by Urbanner and Haubenstock-Ramati. Its playing, combining warmth and precision in a recognizably Viennese manner, has consistently reached the highest level of accomplishment, although its style has altered slightly. A change of second violinist made little difference but the substitution of Kakuska for Beyerle caused a noticeable switch of emphasis; a fine Mozart ensemble became a fine Haydn ensemble instead. Its homogeneity of tone – partly attributable to the fact that all except the cellist studied with Franz Samohyl – has remained constant throughout. The group's recordings have won many prizes. Berg's Quartet and Lyric Suite have been documented twice, as have the mature works by Mozart and Schubert and the Beethoven cycle – the second Beethoven set was recorded live. The individual members are professors at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst and the Cologne Hochschule für Musik, and all have musical interests outside the quartet: Pichler is a conductor, Schulz plays in other ensembles such as the Waldstein Trio, and Kakuska and Erben are soloists. Their instruments include a ...

Article

Deena Weinstein

Both an American Detroit-based hard rock band and the adopted name of its singer and main creative force Vincent Damon Furnier (b Detroit, MI, 4 Feb 1946). Cooper was the son of a minister and the nephew of the storyteller Damon Runyon, after whom he was named. He moved to Arizona, where he attended high school and formed the Nazz. This band eventually took the name Alice Cooper and developed an over-the-top, theatrical shock-rock style that influenced a host of other rock performers.

With snide and clever lyrics, Alice Cooper’s style was mainly hard rock, but some tunes were psychedelic and others would be suitable in a Broadway musical. After moving to Michigan, the band scored numerous hits in the early 1970s. Many of the songs were rebellious youth-focused anthems, including “Eighteen” (Warner, 1971) and “School’s Out” (Warner, 1972). Others centered on ghoulish menace or mere gothic gruesomeness like “Dead Babies” (Warner, ...

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Ronald D. Cohen

Singing group and political activists. In late 1940 Pete Seeger met Lee Hays, a preacher and labor organizer from Arkansas, and his New York roommate, Millard Lampell, a writer from New Jersey. By February 1941 they had launched the Almanac Singers, a loose collection of musicians devoted to performing original and traditional folksongs, many with a hard political edge. Soon joined by Bess Lomax (sister of Alan), Baldwin (“Butch”) and Peter Hawes, Josh White, Woody Guthrie, Agnes (“Sis”) Cunningham, and others, they performed before various labor and left-wing groups. Their first album of peace songs, Songs for John Doe, appeared in early 1941. This was followed by two albums of traditional songs, Sod Buster Ballads and Deep Sea Chanties, and the pro-labor Talking Union. Their final album, Dear Mr. President, which consisted of pro-war songs, was released in 1942. Their left-wing politics led to much negative publicity, and with the start of World War II the group began to fragment. Seeger joined the Army, Guthrie entered the Merchant Marine, and the others went in various directions, but their creative songs and folk style would live on....

Article

Tully Potter

British string quartet. It was founded in London in 1947 by Norbert Brainin (b Vienna, 12 March 1923; d Harrow, Middx, 10 April 2005), Siegmund Nissel (b Vienna, 3 Jan 1922; d London, 21 May 2008), (Hans) Peter Schidlof (b Mödling, 9 July 1922; d Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, 15 Aug 1987) and Martin Lovett (b London, 3 March 1927). The violinists and viola player came to Britain from Austria just before the war and were pupils of Max Rostal. Lovett, who had studied with his father and at the RCM with Ivor James, was also of immigrant stock and was in Rostal's orbit as a member of his chamber orchestra. Brainin, who had previously studied with Riccardo Odnoposoff and Rosa Hochmann (and briefly with Carl Flesch), and Schidlof were both brilliant violinists; but the latter agreed to take the viola part and became a leading exponent of that instrument. As the Brainin Quartet, the four gave their first concert at the Dartington Summer School on ...