Keep up to date here for Derek Bermel's latest reviews 



Bermel:"Mar de Setembro" - "Unambiguously Luscious Music"

April 7, 2014              Steve Smith

Recently, the American Composer Orchestra gave the NY premiere of Derek Bermel's Mar de Setembro, featuring vocalist Luciana Souza. New York Times critic Steve Smith called Bermel's score "unambiguously luscious music," and noted he is a "versatile, respectful chameleon...[who] weds impressionism, bossa nova, tango, waltz and more to evocative ends..."

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COncert review: "Bermel is one of Bowdoin’s success stories."

July 23, 2015          Allan Kozinn

The Bernstein, which Bermel played from memory, has many of the composer’s later hallmarks – bright-edged, theatrical melodies in the clarinet line, a rich textured piano part, and ample rhythmic variety in both – and Bermel, with solid support from the pianist Peter Basquin, gave it a vital, persuasive performance.

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“Momentum 21 – New Music for a New Century” review of ritornello

Published  August 24, 2015              John Sunier

I have heard several works by clarinetist and composer Derek Bermel and am a big fan. His music always has an exciting and ‘contemporary’ sound that is readily influenced by the worlds of jazz or rock. Such is the case here. 

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"Short History" review: Universe in 18 inspired minutes of music

Published 3:59pm, Friday, September 12, 2014          Joshua Kosman


Derek Bermel, the brilliantly versatile composer and clarinetist who is the New Century Chamber Orchestra's featured composer this year, began his stint on Thursday night by trying to compress all of cosmology into 18 minutes of music. The physics of it was above my pay grade, but the music was characteristically skillful and imaginative. 

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review of SPCO's performance of "murmurations"

January 23, 2016              Michael Anthony

Bermel, who conducted the piece, writes sensitively for strings. In his second movement, the work’s emotional core, he has the lower strings play an accompaniment while the violins pour forth a long-limbed melody of quite stunning beauty, as if the birds were staging an aerial ballet. Beauty in motion is perhaps what “Murmurations” is all about.

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San Jose Mercury News Calls Bermel’s Dust Dances at Cabrillo Festival " spot-on terrific!"

August 03, 2013               Richard Scheinin

"Dust Dances," the program's opener, which Bermel composed in 1994 after a sojourn in Ghana, where he studied the gyil, a marimba-like instrument with a buzzing "blue note" sound. Friday, with each swaggering blast of trombone, you could almost see elephants on the horizon...Welcome to Cabrillo. 

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Sounds Heard: Derek Bermel----Canzonas Americanas

May 14, 2013 By Dan Visconti 


Following a recent release of Derek Bermel's music for full orchestra ( the excellent album Voices on the BMOP Sounds label), this new collection focuses on Bermel's work for that quintessential contemporary sinfonietta, Alarm Will Sound. This collection of Bermel's music provides a helpful point of entry for those curious to know just what has made this composer so consistently stand out: his music's fusion of quasi-minimalist beat-based sensibilities with a dizzying diversity of popular and/or indigenous sound sources from across the globe.

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Album Review: Derek Bermel, 'Canzonas'

Sunday, February 10, 2013    Joshua Kosman

It's hard to know what to be more dazzled by in the music of composer Derek Bermel - the range of stylistic voices he cultivates or the profusion of ingenuity, beauty and wit he brings to everything he touches. This superb new compilation by the New York ensemble Alarm Will Sound shows off the many sides of Bermel's musical personality...

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Bermel: Canzonas Americanas; Natural Selection; Three Rivers, etc - review

Thursday 3 January 2013        Andrew Clements

The Guardian reviews Derek Bermel's Canzonas Americanas, pieces which it says "gleefully rampage across traditional stylistic boundaries, appropriating what they need."

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Best Music of 2012: Favorite Song - Derek Bermel's "Canzonas Americanas" !!!

December 27, 2012

The Washington Post classical music critic gives her take on the year in music.

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Review: Derek Bermel's Canzonas americanas, Alarm Will Sound

Q2 Music Album of the Week for November 19, 2012 By Daniel Stephen Johnson

Maybe it's because Bermel's music demands the same rhythmic vigor as a Reich score, and the same screwed-up pop sensibility as Brittelle or Aphex Twin, or the fact that Bermel's musical language is nearly as eclectic as everything Alarm Will Sound has played up to now.

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Music review: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra premieres Derek Bermel's 'Mar de Setembro' with Luciana Souza

May 16, 2011            Culture Monster All Arts, All the time

"Mar de Setembro" is a short set of five songs to texts by the late Portuguese poet Eugenio de Andrade and written for the Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza. Bermel. who is LACO's composer in residence, has produced a small gem." 

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MUSIC REVIEW: Performance of "soul garden"

March 31, 2004              by Alan Kozinn


When the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center decided to celebrate its history of commissioning new works in January, it made the peculiar decision to present truncated or excerpted versions of many scores it was supposedly honoring. Among its oddest choices was to insist that Derek Bermel's ''Soul Garden,'' a 13-minute work composed in 2000, be trimmed to eight minutes.

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Sequenza 21: Review of derek Bermel's "soul garden"

January 20, 2003


Derek Bermel is one of those musicians with so much talent in so many areas that he could easily be mistakenly labeled a dilletante. Afterall, he writes chamber, symphonic, dance, theater and pop works, and is a terrific clarinetist, pianist and conductor, who is just as comfortable with jazz and rock as he is with classical. But, Soul Garden, a new CD of Bermel's chamber works, demonstrates just how serious a composer Bermel is and how well he has assimilated his varied musical experiences and made then uniquely his own.

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