Friday, October 17, 2014

CCC 117 - Carter Pann

According to his website, American composer Carter Pann's music "has become known for its blend of crafty, popular-sounding idioms, subtle and unabashed humor, and haunted melodic writing." Which is why he's this week's  Consonant Classical Challenge featured composer.

Carter Pann has built an impressive body of works, both chamber and orchestral. While his melodies (and sometimes harmonies) reference other genres, such as jazz, ragtime, or even pop, they're simply building blocks that Pann incorporates into classical traditions.

Carter Pann is an advocate for the concert wind ensemble, and has composed a number of significant works in the genre. "The Mercury Concerto" is a good example of his writing. Some arrangers use clarinets as substitutes for strings. Pann's writing shows he understands the inherent character of the wind ensemble, and how it differs from a chamber orchestra.

Pann's chamber music is equally accessible. His Piano Trio No. 1 delivers on his website's promise of popular-sounding idioms and subtle humor.

That use of popular-sounding idioms is even more apparent in his concert rags.

Slalom shows Pann's skill as an orchestrator. This work is also available in a wind ensemble version, but to me the orchestral score more fully captures the excitement of a downhill race.


Carter Pann is a relatively young composer, and his reputation is growing. Still, I wish his music was more regularly programmed on concerts (and on air). Stylistically, his music could have been written at no other time than now, yet its strong connections to classical traditions mean his music should appeal to both traditionalists and those seeking out new music.

Recommended Recordings

American Portraits

Piano Concerto / Dance Patita

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Thanks for writing this overview of Carter Pann's compositions! - C. Hastings