(Kansas City, Missouri) - Articulate, provocative, and inordinately well versed - he's a composer himself - Kyle Gann is one of today's foremost music critics. Through weekly columns in The Village Voice and his blog on the literary website ArtsJournal, he has largely defined experimental American music for a generation.
Gann has been spellbound since middle school by the great American composer Charles Ives and his consummate Concord Sonata. Drawing from his forthcoming book Essays After a Sonata: Charles Ives's Concord, Gann discusses both Ives and the masterpiece on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The event, co-presented by the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Conservatory of Music and Dance, begins at 6:30 p.m.
The son of musical parents - his father was a choral singer and his mother a piano teacher - Gann has written for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times in addition to serving as a critic for The Village Voice from 1986 to 2005. He also taught music theory, history, and competition at New York's Bard College since 1997 and composed more than 100 of his own musical works.
He is the author of five other books including American Music in the Twentieth Century and Music Downtown: Writings from the Village Voice.
Gann recalled his introduction to Ives in a 2009 interview with the online publication NewMusicBox. "Mom had her master's in music ed," he said, "and one day I asked her why there were no living American composers. And she said, 'Well, I think there are.' So I asked who, and she said Charles Ives and Roy Harris. So I ran to the record store and got the Concord Sonata and just sat there thinking 'what the hell is this?' until I got it ... probably 50 listenings over three weeks."
First published in 1919 and revised by Ives in 1947, the innovative Concord Sonata is a musical portrait of four renowned, transcendentalist authors who lived in Concord, Massachusetts, in the 19th century: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott (and her father Amos Bronson Alcott), and Henry David Thoreau. It is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest American compositions ever.
Admission to Gann's presentation is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.