Concert Reviews and Articles
New Music Ensemble delivers great concert -- and more
Monday, July 09, 2007
Already a strong work when it premiered in 2002, Kevin Puts' "Einstein on Mercer Street" is now beginning to pass the longevity test. It is a modern masterwork, a probing but Romantic setting of the imagined thoughts of the iconic scientist in his twilight years, for baritone and ensemble. Before long, Puts should arrange it for full orchestra and to claim a wider audience (that PNME plans to record it will help).
The full ensemble, augmented by the Pittsburgh Symphony's principal trumpet player, George Vosburgh, offered a vibrant account of the work under conductor Noe. But everyone bowed to baritone Timothy Jones' utter inhabiting of the role. There was love in his eye as he acted out Einstein's own adoration for his loved ones and terror in the singer's continence when the physicist is haunted by the specter of the atomic bomb. Jones' voice -- flowing, flexible, but always with a gorgeous timbre -- sought for and found the nuances of this fascinating work.
Concert mixes optimism, gloom
Friday, September 23, 2005
DALLAS - The Dallas Symphony Orchestra offered two distinctly different examples of 20th-century composition Thursday night. The second half was devoted to Briton Michael Tippett's emotionally powerful oratorio, A Child of Our Time.
Composed during World War II, the hourlong work for orchestra, chorus and vocal soloists was Tippett's response to an early event in the Holocaust. Surprisingly, he chose to use African-American spirituals, works he knew only from a distance, as the backbone of the piece. The device works well.
Bass-baritone Timothy Jones and soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme brought exceptionally clear, forceful voices to their roles.
Fulcrum Point helps give new music chance to be heard
Thematic programming can seem contrived in unimaginative hands, a distracting spoonful of sugar to help new music go down.
Fulcrum Point's artistic director Stephen Burns is an expert at constructing programs that intelligently illustrate common motivations for disparate composers.
Composer Derek Bermel may not be a household name yet, but if there is any justice in the music world, he soon will be. His "Natural Selection," a song cycle based on poetry of Wendy S. Walters and Naomi Shihab Nye, is a group of animal portraits that achieves a dramatic complexity that belies its commonplace subject. Baritone Timothy Jones was extraordinary. He connected so completely with the text that it was easy to overlook the challenges of the score.
Baritone's return lifts New Music Ensemble
Monday, June 28, 2004
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble has its voice back.
Bass-baritone Timothy Jones spent 2002 being a highlight of the group as it moved its wares to the summer and re-invented its concert mannerisms. But last year, cancer struck and he took a year's leave. His being back this season was not only a morale boost to the plucky band now performing at City Theatre, but a boon to PNME's overall artistry, as well.
A more engaging singer of contemporary music may not exist. Two summers ago he crafted a compelling portrait of Albert Einstein in a piece by Kevin Puts. Saturday night he wasted not a single drop of wit in premiering David Heuser's hilarious "Immaculate, Bored, Off-key and Vain," written for Jones.
This work is just the sort of music classical music needs more of. Yes, music must take us to spiritual heights, but occasionally it can make us laugh, too. I am always amazed by how many living composers forget that music can be entertainment (even revered figures such as Mozart and Haydn thought so).
Heuser certainly doesn't need to be reminded. The texts to the four songs in this set by Jack Prelutsky are hilarious in a Shel Silverstein sort of way. You can tell that even by the titles, such as "Today Is Very Boring" and "I'm the Single Most Wonderful Person I Know." But it was Jones' comedic expressions and timing that adroitly brought out the humor. His voice, rich and burnished, provided technique when asked. The ensemble, led here by conductor Brett Mitchell, matched his energy.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble last night at the main space in the Berkeley Street Theatre staged the first of two evenings designed to appeal to more mainstream audiences The staging itself is a success, driven by rich and sympathetic lighting design. The theatre, not a usual music venue, has the right acoustic. And the performers are fantastic, with special honours due to percussionist Ross Williams.
Most amusing were three songs by David Heuser, expertly rendered by Timothy Jones' remarkably supple baritone voice.
Singer Timothy Jones has come through cancer with instrument intact
Friday, July 02, 2004
Growing up in Shreveport, La., a precocious 5-year-old Timothy Jones asked for music lessons, so his parents sent him to a jazz and gospel teacher. But the nascent classical bass-baritone wasn't content once he caught a glimpse of what he really wanted.
"One day we were flipping through channels on the TV, and there was a classical pianist," says Jones, who immediately told his bewildered parents that's what he wanted to be. "My dad looked at me like I had three heads."
But even though his family was struggling financially, his parents made sure Jones connected with a piano teacher in town. After he had learned piano and cello (playing the other strings, too), singing began to come to the fore. His undergraduate degree was in piano and voice at Centenary College in Shreveport, and he opted for a doctorate in voice from the University of Michigan. continue...
Four-song cycle sung by baritone is high point of New Music Ensemble concert
Monday, June 28, 2004
The rewards and risks of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble's theatrical orientation were in full display Saturday night at City Theatre on the South Side. The concert offered more satisfaction than the previous week's season opener and was slightly better attended.
The highpoint was composer David Heuser's "Immaculate, Bored, Off-key and Vain," a cycle of four songs delivered with charismatic brilliance by baritone Timothy Jones. His resonant vocalism was wedded with a vivid dramatic sensibility to convey a woman's compulsion to wash everything (including sponging a pie), utter boredom and conceited musicianship before concluding with "I'm the Single Most Wonderful Person I Know." Jones even played violin for a moment. The spirited performance was led with superb assurance by Brett Mitchell.
Comic opera offers fine singing
Thursday, January 1, 2004
"Excellent singing and decent acting
overcame some understandable but unfortunate economies to keep
Donizetti's comic "Don Pasquale" afloat in a Lyric Opera of San Antonio
staging. ... Local favorite Timothy Jones was comfortable in the upper
baritone range of Dr. Malatesta, Pasquale's confidant and Norina'
co-conspirator ... his singing was secure and strong and his comedic
Symphony's old hands pull it together for holiday concert
San Antonio Express News
It was especially heartening to see and hear baritone Timothy Jones, a former local stalwart who now teaches in Houston. Silenced for several months by an illness, Jones has recovered nicely, his voice perhaps a bit brighter and more honeyed than in the past. Singing in English translation, Jones delivered an aptly rakish "Oh Fatherland" from Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow" and a warm "Komm Zigany" from Emmerich Kalman's "Countess Maritza."
The July 8, 2002, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave rave reviews to the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble for a concert Saturday, July 6, which included a composition featuring poems by Fleda Brown, University of Delaware professor of English. The composition, "Einstein on Mercer Street," was written by Brown's nephew, Kevin Puts. "The evening came to stunning conclusion in Kevin Puts' 'Einstein on Mercer Street,' a major commission by PNME. The work, incorporating the entire ensemble, exists between a song cycle and a Mahler symphony in terms of transforming text into a musical whole. The nine poems of contemporary poet Fleda Brown, a fictional account of Einstein's reflections as an old man, are masterfully intertwined into several sections that took different styles as their basis, from minimalism to Mozartean classicism.
"Puts clearly is an emerging talent, and bass-baritone Timothy Jones was outstanding, displaying an easy-going approach to the melodies and speaking.
Given the beloved subject matter and the strong and accessible
composition, this work is an ideal piece for a new PNME to show that
contemporary music is as vital and relevant as ever."
Adventuresome theatricality and top-notch
performance values marked the new Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble's
Saturday night offering at the Hazlett Theater on the North Side. The
concert included two world premieres: one a miniature, the other a
sprawling 45-minute multimedia theater piece with a wild and often
hilarious text. "The Lyric's Tale" is an elaborate creation in 26
movements that often juxtaposes the sung or spoken word with projected
texts. ... Bass-baritone Timothy Jones proved again to be a vividly dramatic figure, as nuanced in voice as in facial expressions.
The performance was expertly coordinated by assistant conductor Brett
Mitchell, with artistic director Kevin Noe running the visual