Although the Philly O had to engage in a bit of crisis management earlier in the year due to its lack of programming of women composers on any season concert, the recent showcase of "South American Sounds" was a welcome addition to the season line-up as a nod to the need for including global perspectives on classical music in the 21st century. The program was flawlessly curated to feature works across the geographic region and from a span of just under a hundred years. It opened with Gershwin, a staple of any American orchestra, but his "Cuban Overture" was indeed the perfect overture to what was to follow. Each subsequent work explored different approaches to representing South American sounds in orchestral music. The Harp Concerto by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera is a work that was commissioned by the first female member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Edna Philips, and was in these concerts expertly performed by the orchestra's current harpist, Elizabeth Hainen. The second half of the program featured new works for the orchestra, "Tangazo" by Ginastera's compatriot Astor Piazolla and "Peru negro" by Jimmy Lopez. (The program listed these works specifically as "First Philadelphia Orchestra performances" but not as Philadelphia premieres, so perhaps they have been performed in the region before.) Piazolla's music is of course well known to any fans of tango, but hearing this large orchestral work by the composer placed his music in a different context and perhaps introduced his music to a different audience. The program concluded with a recent work written for the conductor of the concert, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, which he also premiered with the Ft. Worth Symphony in 2013. As the title indicates, "Peru negro" by Jimmy Lopez seeks to feature but also seamlessly blend the music of Peru's African traditions within the orchestral idiom. From my listening the composer absolutely succeeded at this task with a particularly skilled use of the percussion section. The introduction of different percussion instruments gradually throughout the work clearly incorporated traditional rhythms from Afro-Peruvian music and yet never overshadowed other layers of the orchestration as the work developed in intensity and excitement. The overall effect warrants comparisons to the craft and orchestration of Stravinsky in his ballets, and in my view the work deserves to be widely performed and adopted as a major addition to the repertoire.

should be out of business.

It was only after I had booked a ticket on the airline that I noticed social media posts about sudden cancellations, and in fact, my return flight to the US was also canceled - without reason or explanation. Luckily, I was observant enough on the initial leg of the flight to realize there was not going to be any help rebooking the flight - the flight attendants on the "Norwegian" carrier didn't seem to have any affiliation with a Norwegian business, wore uniforms that said "Privilege Service" or some such, and spoke Italian and Spanish with one another. My suspicions were confirmed when the check-in staff informed those of us on the cancelled flight that they were only able to provide free hotel accommodations for as long as needed until we could contact Norwegian by phone to rebook our flights. I had already made up my mind that I was going to find my own way out of Rome, and so I didn't notice until much later that the phone number the counter staff provided me on a sheet of passenger rights (in Italian) was completely bogus. I followed that up with a search online to claim reimbursement from the airline and found no contact phone number there either. It was only when THANKFULLY the internet gods decided the carrier's website was overloaded that I received an automated error message with a contact number to call. Interestingly enough, when I tried to input my booking code to claim a reimbursement initially, the airline didn't recognize it though the phone personnel found it readily. The initial automated message after that attempt was to contact the travel agent who booked the ticket since they would have to provide reimbursement. Ah yes, of course - one side has to blame the other, and so and Norwegian Airlines have apparently become a marriage of convenience in this little charade of airline service.

"Charade" is obviously generous. While I was able - as a single traveler - to find an initial flight to another European city, what about others traveling as a family or group with limited funds and/or travel knowledge to expedite the process? The check-in staff even acknowledged that the process of getting rebooked could take up to 5 to 7 days, which to me sounded like some kind of bizarre hijacking of people's lives, finances, and possibly sanity. And if no one is actually responsible on the ground, or in the air, this venture is a catastrophe waiting to happen...

Temptation by Janos Szekely is due to be released as a reprint edition this month. I first read the book in German (Verlockung) – because it hasn’t been available in English since Szekely died in Berlin in 1958. Following an illustrious career in Hollywood, which included an Academy Award for best screenplay (Arise My Love, 1940), Szekely was black-listed during the McCarthy era and forced to leave the U.S. His works fell into disregard, including Temptation, though the novel makes clear his extraordinary gift for storytelling. It is epic in proportion covering the life of a young boy, Béla, who is coming of age in Hungary between the world wars: from his early life as an abandoned child in a small village to life in the big city of Budapest where he is reunited with his parents. He eventually gains employment as an elevator boy in a luxury hotel and learns the ropes about navigating modern urban life from a colorful cast of characters.

How many production companies does it take to make a film about government and police corruption in Egypt? Three. 

German, Swedish, and Danish. 

Yep, that's right... In the next segment of our story (Chapter 3) Oskar has a run-in with the postman!


Baker's Hours or 'Wia die Wuiden' (Chapter 2)

I'm new to the translating world, but the original translation by Margaret Green for Knopf -- which I am consulting as I work on my own -- strikes me as hurried at best (published a year after the German) and profoundly negligent at worst. Graf's language is simple. He's recounting his own life growing up in a small town in Bavaria as the first chapter makes clear. He calls the work "A Confession" not a memoir for reasons that the reader can deduce on his/her own. The translation on the other hand strikes me as overly convoluted in language and outright incorrect both in terms of German meaning and proper English usage in numerous places. One specific place will illustrate what I mean - the middle paragraph of the second page of Chapter 2. For some inexplicable reason, Green translates 'wie ein Wilder gearbeitet' as 'worked like a n---' Yes, the N--- word.

'Wie ein Wilder" is an idiomatic expression in German (and in Bavarian which I've provided in the post's title in the plural) and is used in just such a context. Literally, "Wilder" could be translated as wild man, savage or native - or more idiomatically as 'like mad' as I have done here - but the word certainly carries no specific racial reference, much less can it be interpreted as a racial slur. It would be the equivalent of reading "She slaved over a hot stove" in English and taking the liberty of using a racial slur to translate it into another language. Why it would occur to Green to translate it thus, and how the editors at Knopf would let it pass is beyond my understanding, regardless of the word's usage or prevalence in the 1920s. 

Silly me, and I thought addressing Graf's encounters with anarchists and socialists in pre- and post-WWI Munich was going to be the challenging part...

As a new track for the blog, I will post chapters of a translation I am working on for We Are Prisoners (Wir Sind Gefangene), an autobiographical 'confession' by Bavarian author Oskar Maria Graf (1894-1967). Look for a new chapter each week!

Though a contract to publish is not in the works, and I haven't secured individual copyright, I do assert all claims to intellectual property for this translation. I find the work is in such need of a new translation - which hasn't been made since the first one from the 1920s - that I am posting chapters here until other arrangements are made. (And yes, the irony of this decision should not be lost on those continuing to read later chapters in the blog...)



With versatile hand percussionist, Joseph Tayoun.

We borrowed his own event marketing for the blog title. That's how it's billed on Facebook - seemingly the only place this unique educational event is listed online despite taking place every week at an Ivy League institution, the Penn Museum (Or the University of Pennsylvania Museum for Anthropology and Archaeology). We aren't quite sure how this flies with museum policy, and payment for the workshop was also not clearly advertised nor implemented. But some cash did change hands. Tayoun is certainly a sought after percussionist in Philadelphia and beyond and an active educator. From my experience at the workshop this could most definitely be a more formal offering at any number of schools and cultural institutions. At the session I attended Joe was extremely capable of engaging varying levels of ability while still keeping the pace moving forward. Though the circle won't start up again until the fall, it's definitely the place to come for anyone interested in developing some drumming skills and/or simply taking a break from the grind.

Jaffna (here on Facebook) is a self-described “Middle Eastern/Indian fusion band” that has existed in Philadelphia for over 20 years with members Branavan Ganesan (tabla and other Indian percussion), Raji Malik (guitar), Roger Mgrdichian (ud) and Joseph Tayoun (dumbek and other percussion). The ensemble plays mostly original compositions taking specific modes, rhythmic cycles and compositional forms from traditional Indian and Middle Eastern music as a starting point. The concert at the Germantown Jewish Center in Philadelphia on March 12 was a family-friendly event with a strong community turn-out. We were surprised to learn of the long history of the ensemble, which performs mostly locally, and intrigued to hear their exploration of world music fusion. 

Meesha Dance with Joseph Tayoun, William Tayoun, Roger Mgrdichian, Baris Kaya and others

In an exciting development for world music in Philadelphia, Franky Bradley's (@1230 Chancellor St.) presented the debut of its First Thursday series on March 3. 

Following our debut at the Midwest Clinic last month and after numerous inquiries from other interested composers, we are offering a limited number of slots to composers who want join our team next year and promote their music. Composers who have titles suitable for middle and high school and college-level ensembles can submit their music for consideration. For a promotional fee of $400 each composer will receive one conference badge with access to all the performances, workshops and exhibits, and targeted promotion of your contracted* new titles to educators at the conference. The Midwest Clinic is an international band and orchestra conference that features clinicians, workshops and performances by invited student ensembles of all levels from across the U.S. and internationally. The educators who attend are looking for exciting new music to program with their ensemble, and three new music reading sessions also promote newly published titles – including yours!

Learn more at and use the ‘Contact‘ page to drop us a line.


(*A digital publishing contract with Sonic Crossroads is required for each score you wish to promote prior to the conference.)


We are pleased to announce that excerpts from "Aegean Spring" by Ulvi Cemal Erkin will be performed at the Orchestra New Music Reading session at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. As part of our promotions for the Clinic we have updated the available readings on our Research page to include a short description of Bartok's folk music research in Turkey. Erkin along with two other composers (Saygun and Akses) accompanied Bartok on this short trip to observe his methods and serve as interpreters. This short reading would be suitable as a handout to your students as you begin to study and rehearse Aegean Spring or Anatolian Sketches by Erkin.

We have also included a selection of free perusal scores on the Research page! These will be available for download until Dec. 22.

Following some recent conference visits, presentations and readings, we are proceeding with our plans to exhibit at Midwest Clinic in Chicago and to submit several of our titles to the Texas UIL prescribed music list for consideration this fall. If you are interested in providing us with a reading of one of our titles, please feel free to contact us at office [at] This year the UIL committee will be considering large ensemble titles - string orchestra, full orchestra, concert and symphonic band among others - and we welcome all inquiries from ensembles interested in our titles. (View them here.)

As an additional way to promote our sheet music titles and to provide educational content, we are posting new pages featuring videos of selections from our titles! "Sheet Music Video" (sub-page of "Sheet Music") will include links to these pages.

Click on the link here for video of all selections in Anthology of Turkish Piano Music, Vol. I

In addition to the Young Composer's Concert and the U.S. Army Field Band concert ( and the line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon), a highlight for me of the NAfME National Convention was the concert and 3-hour workshop in Korean Drumming led by Dr. Soojin Ritterling of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. In the three-hour period she managed to teach an entire piece of the Samulnori genre, featuring four instruments - Jing, Buk, Janggu and Kkwaenggwari. She first described the original context for traditional Korean drumming and how the piece we were learning was a concert version of this traditional music. Dr. Ritterling with the help of four students in her ensemble at UW-La Crosse taught the piece using her own transcription of the piece into Western notation, but also referred to some of the traditional drumming syllables that would have been used to teach the piece orally. Actually, a written notation exists using graphic notation and (at least in the case I saw) the Korean syllables/vocables transliterated into Latin script. Ritterling's rationale for using Western notation, despite the fact that a student of hers thought the Korean notation was clearer, was that it made the piece easy to teach to teachers and students already familiar with staff notation. And I can confirm that over the course of the workshop - if one took the initiative to try out the parts for all four instruments - one could reasonably learn the piece well enough to convey to a group of students. One of the La Crosse students even offered some suggestions about how to go about substituting various instruments for the difficult-to-obtain Korean ones. Ritterling also offered copies of all the parts along with a simple handout explaining the instruments and the contexts she described. I'm ready! Put me in front of a class!

Yes, this was posted on Oct. 12, 2014 though some links were added later. 


It wasn't just the language barrier though that was part of the problem. Very soon into the Closing Concert of the Princeton Chinese Music Festival at Carnegie Hall, it became apparent that the printed program was a jumble. I found it strange that the program content for such an event was primarily in Chinese, but was willing to accept the fact that a predominantly Chinese and Chinese-American audience would benefit for a Chinese program. I also understood that "Princeton" didn't necessarily mean Princeton University but the Princeton University Chinese Music Ensemble was listed as one of the featured performers and a co-presenter with collaboration from the Central Conservatory of Music (not specifically Beijing or Shanghai) and the China Conservatory of Music (again no specific location). As the program did indeed start off with what appeared to be the featured student works - winners of a competition - performed ably by the youngest students of the evening, first a large group of 8 to 10 year olds on the guzheng followed by a mixed ensemble of both Chinese and Western instruments. After that presumably the Princeton University Ensemble performed although given the jumbled nature of the rest of the program it was difficult to ascertain if, when, and who this ensemble actually was. The title of their piece was importantly identified as "Capriccio Taiwan." Translations of program notes were provided for some titles but not for all, and titles and composers for other pieces were not transliterated. Anglicized performers' names were given however, and this and the number of performers involved were often the biggest clues as to which piece was being performed.

All this to describe a dilemma that didn't necessarily detract from enjoying the concert - at least not in my case. I was aware that several selections represented a highly politicized interpretation of traditional Chinese music - with compositions for 4, 6, and as many as 10 guzheng - like 'chamber orchestras' of guzheng - or the three pieces for zheng and piano (possibly orchestra reductions). These clearly represent attempts at Westernizing music and instruments that were traditionally performed solo and without any harmonization. However, i was more struck by the variety of styles exhibited in the pieces and undoubtedly extended playing techniques developed by players and composers over time. Who's to say that these instruments and the repertoire can't develop beyond a traditional context even if the original impetus came from reform politics and a desire to Westernize? And in fact, one assessment on my part was quickly dispelled. During a piece for erhu quartet, very much composed like a string quartet, and which seemed to me to be Dvorak, Lalo, and Sarasate all rolled into one, I mused at one point "Oh that melody has to be straight from Hunga... Oh wait everyone seems to recognize this melody. So much for that."

Following a conversation recently at an Educators' Conference, I am compelled to offer some additional commentary about one line of the lyrics in Leyla Saz's Victory March. (First discussed here in the Feb. 26 post) It has always been known to me that the name Enver in the fifth line of the lyrics refers to Enver Pasha (General Enver). While I make the case that this particular March reflects a revolutionary period in Turkey's history and a continuation generally towards Westernization and modernization in that country, it should also be apparent that the Ottoman Empire sided with the Axis Powers in World War I, and its humiliating defeat led to the collapse and break-up of the Empire.

As a first time attendee at a Pennsylvania Music Educators Conference, my only frame of reference was a past experience exhibiting at the Texas Music Educators Convention. I expected to observe differences but not to this extent.

We are very excited to have participated in the first Arts Entrepreneurship Educators conference this past weekend! Read Kathryn Woodard's blog post here


April Verch is indeed the star of the April Verch Trio with her mesmerizing tap dance and virtuosic fiddling - and for the final number simultaneously!! This group is a real crowd pleaser and an excellent choice for a university setting.



We are pleased to announce that Don't Idle Engine - the solo studio project of Alan Sentman - has been nominated for an Independent Music Award in the category of instrumental music! Please visit the award announcement page to read more about Sentman's music and his new album Everything That Falls Into Place - and be sure to vote for Don't Idle Engine!

Stunning vocalist Fatoumata Diawara from Mali at GlobalFest 2013


With Webster Hall bursting at the seams for GlobalFest 2013 on Sunday, it was clear to most in the audience that the venture has grown beyond a single evening event. Intended as a large world music showcase for 12 artists on 3 stages at the annual presenters conference in New York (, the concert has been heavily weighted toward pop-rock fusion styles for several years running. A good thing, considering any group with less energy and more subtlety than a fully amplified band would not survive in Globalfest's current configuration. 

A noted exception this year was the duo featuring Persian kamanceh player, Kayhan Kalhor, and Turkish baglama player, Erdal Erzincan. (Click the title to read more.) 

Kayhan Kalhor, kamanceh, and Erdal Erzincan, baglama saz, in the Marlin Room at Globalfest 2013

In the spirit of cross-cultural exchange we've 'borrowed' from the season's online postings for our own holiday greeting:

The official Christmas greeting from the President of Estonia

includes this beautiful rendition of Vater unser by Arvo Pärt

And on the lighter side:

Sleigh Ride in 7/8 - arranged by John Eidsvoog


Enjoy with a hefty cup of egg-nog!

All the best to you and yours,

From the Sonic Crossroads Team

This is Texas in November - blue skies, short sleeves, and a few teepees - for the 22nd Native American Pow-Wow Championship.

Read/view a photo synopsis of select showcase performances at WOMEX 2011 in Copenhagen

BaianaSystem from Brazil was a highlight of the WOMEX showcases this year! 

Their music exhibits a wide range of styles and influences - listen to samples at their myspace page!

Although the initial draw for me to attend this year’s festival in Edinburgh, Scotland was the focus on Asia (see below), another production - a retelling and staging of 1001 Arabian Nights by director Tim Supple - was a thrilling addition to my sojourn. 


All it took was an e-mail to launch a week-long trip to Edinburgh, Scotland for this year’s international festival (August 12-September 4). Somehow I was the lucky recipient of an announcement for the world premiere of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle to take place at the festival, and after further investigation of the festival’s copious offerings from Asia, the internet travel searching began. (I’ll admit, escaping one of the longest heat-waves in Texas for the 65-degree temperatures in Edinburgh was another draw.)


In addition to the staging of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a novel by the acclaimed Japanese author Haruki Murakami, the festival offered a re-telling of Hamlet as Peking opera in The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan, Eun-Me Ahn’s interpretation with her dance company of the Korean folk-tale Princess Bari, and rare performances by the Yogyakarta court gamelan from Java, Indonesia. 

The next event I chose to attend in New York over the first weekend in August was "Heritage Sunday" on the 7th, which was presented by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance as part of the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival. Held in Hearst Plaza, this year's concert featured three groups representing Afro-Colombian musical traditions. The title of the concert, "The Other Side of Colombia" seemed to refer equally to the marginalized status of the Afro-Colombian population within the broader culture and to the two coasts of Colombia, Atlantic and Pacific, each of which has distinct musical styles.

On a recent trip to New York I managed to take in three films, four art exhibits and two live music performances. Although I intended only to write about the concerts for my blog, I’ll offer some thoughts on my other visits as they relate to music and/or cross-cultural exchange through art.

I started my trip with a stroll down to the Film Forum (Houston and 6th Ave.) where I saw Passione, directed by John Turturro. Evidently it was fortunate I had not seen the trailer as several friends reported that they had been turned off by the preview and were not interested in seeing the film. Going in unaware of what to expect I thoroughly enjoyed sitting for 90 minutes and listening to the various vocalists and styles that Turturro chose to feature in this film about the rich musical culture of Naples.

This is a slightly updated version of my original article for The New Music Connoisseur from 2001. I include the original sources and recordings. In the past decade, however, there have been numerous additions to the study of Saygun: Emre Araci's biography of Saygun (in Turkish), Selim Giray's study of Turkish music for violin and piano, and my own article in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Numerous recordings have also been produced, including CPO's complete cycle of Saygun's major orchestral works, my recording of Saygun's solo piano music for Albany Records, and Zeynep Uçbsaran's recording also of solo piano works for Naxos.

Blog excerpt: "From works such as Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and Beethoven’s The Ruins of Athens many music listeners are familiar with the practice of evoking the sound of Turkish music, specifically music of the Janissary corps, within European works of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. What is less known in the West is that shortly after the alla turca style had reached its peak in Europe, Western music also made its way to Turkey, as a substitute, in fact, for the Janissary music that Europeans had come to associate with the Ottoman Empire. This turn of events was the result of Sultan Mahmud II’s decision in 1826 to abolish the Janissary corps after decades of previous attempts by his predecessors at reforming the Ottoman army with little success. Mahmud’s goal was to form a new army along European lines and this included forming a European military band to replace the music of the Janissary corps."

Read on for more about the music of Leyla Saz, Dikran Cuhaciyan, Ahmed Adnan Saygun, Muammer Sun and Hasan Uçarsu.

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Access liner notes and bios for Kathryn Woodard's Journeys CD at the link - our current radio promotion.


Applications are being accepted for the Young Women Composers Camp at Temple University, July 15-26, 2019!


Learn more about our new partner And We Were Heard - a diversity project that provides recordings of composers' works by participating wind ensembles!



Check out the video pages for the Anthology of Turkish Piano Music:

Volume I

Volume II

Volume III 


Listen to an excerpt of "Aegean Spring" read at the Midwest Clinic Orchestra Reading session here!


View one of our featured titles, "Victory March," here.


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