The first piece, The Spider Thread, by Michael-Thomas Foumai, offered a Sorcerer’s Apprentice style story in 15 minutes. Inspired by Ryṻnosuke Akutagawa’s tale about a group of prisoners trying to hoist themselves up to Paradise, he started with an upper-wind, murky picture of “Paradise”, which obviously isn’t harps and angels. The middle part, with its echoes of Sacre, was the rope-scrambling–and of a contrapuntal circus–, a vision of lightning-fast canons and fughettas, a visual portrait of “too many crooks”, animated and delightful.
Full Review: http://www.concertonet.com/scripts/review.php?ID_review=11013
I CARE IF YOU LISTEN by SAM REISING
"ACO opened the October 23 concert with the premiere of Michael-Thomas Foumai’s The Spider Thread, a quick and calculated piece filled with measured cacophony that never seemed to stay somewhere for too long. The piece is based on a short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa that tells the tale of a sinner attempting to escape hell by climbing up a spider’s thread. As the sinner climbs, other sinners begin climbing the thread behind him, ultimately causing the thread to break and all the sinners to remain in hell."
Full Review: www.icareifyoulisten.com/2015/11/american-composers-orchestra-performs-21st-firsts/
THE NEW CRITERION by JAY NORDLINGER
the American Composers Orchestra opened a concert in Zankel Hall with a piece by Michael-Thomas Foumai. Not to be confused with Michael Tilson Thomas, Mr. Foumai is a composer from Hawaii. His piece was The Spider Thread, which tells a story.
Would you know that her piece had to do with those things if you weren’t told? Of course not. Would you know that Michael-Thomas Foumai’s piece told a spider story? Of course not. Years ago, I interviewed Ned Rorem, who said, “A composer will go to some lengths to tell you that something is about something.” We think that La mer has to do with the sea because of its title, and because of discussion about the piece. The mind is steered. “A piece without a text, without a vocal line, can’t mean detailed things like Tuesday, butter, or yellow,” said Rorem, “and it can’t even mean general things like death or love or the weather, although a timpani roll can sound like thunder, and certain conventions about love come out of Wagner.”
A Spider Thread has soft, tingly percussion—de rigueur. It also has a certain drama (not de rigueur). It conveys a spidery chaos. It is loud, busy, and exciting. The orchestra that plays it must be virtuosic. The piece is cartoonish, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way: I should probably say “cartoon-like.” Its ending is fun. There is a musical spirit behind this piece, not an academic drone. I would like to hear it again.
Full Review: http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/New-York-chronicle-8297