Everything’s Up to Date

It’s official: the Second International Conference on Minimalist Music will take place September 2 to 6, 2009, at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. (The first, you’ll remember, occurred last September at the University of Wales at Bangor.) Composer David McIntire and I are codirecting it. David has been very busy, lining up speakers, arranging ensemble performances, allocating spaces, and having biweekly meetings with interested colleagues. For my part, I’ve already sent him several encouraging e-mails. We’re tentatively planning to honor Charlemagne Palestine, Tom Johnson, and Mikel Rouse (the last a UMKC alumnus). 

We’re inviting all scholars working in the area of minimalist music to submit proposals of papers for presentations of 20 minutes each. Possible subjects include, but are not limited to, the following:

– both American and European (and other) minimalist music; 

– early minimalism of the 1950s and ’60s; 

– outgrowths of minimalism into postminimalism, totalism, and oher movements;

– minimalist music’s relation to pop music or visual art; 

– performance problems in minimalist music; 

– analyses or investigation of music by La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich,
Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars; 

– especially encouraged are papers on crucial but less public figures such as
Tony Conrad, Phill Niblock, Jon Gibson, Eliane Radigue, Rhys Chatham, Barbara Benary, Julius Eastman, and so on.

Deadline for proposals, from 300 to 500 words, is October 31, which should be e-mailed to 

kgann@earthlink.net (Kyle Gann)


compositeurkc@sbcglobal.net (David McIntire)

The committee to select papers will consist (as of now) of myself, Keith Potter, Pwyll ap Sion (codirector of the first conference, and author of a new book on Michael Nyman), and Andrew Granade. 

The first such conference was a tremendous success. We all enjoyed being able to talk freely to academic colleagues about repertoire not always granted much respect in academia. This time we’ve got some dynamite performances lined up, including some seminal minimalist works that haven’t been heard publicly in decades. We’ll be sending this invitation out via various mailing lists shortly, but this is the first public announcement. Please spread the word to anyone you think would be interested. Mikel Rouse has promised to treat us to the world’s best barbecue, which apparently can be found in Kansas City! We’ve gone about as fer as we can go.


  1. says

    Nuns! Nuns! Nuns! Nuns! The number fifteen!
    One of the mailing lists you’ll be sending the CFP out to will be the AMS list, right?
    Are you at liberty to disclose what seminal works you have lined up?
    This sounds great :)
    KG replies: I’m trying to arrange the first performance of Dennis Johnson’s November since the early ’60s. And a couple of other ideas, if I can get the time.

  2. Patrick Nickleson says

    Is there any chance of a session of student papers at the conference? I’m a fourth year undergraduate, but am spending the majority of my time this summer working on an independent study theory paper on Michael Gordon.
    KG replies: Everything’s up in the air at this point, and we’ll consider anything. No reason I can see that a student couldn’t have a paper on a regular session. I look forward to hearing about it.

  3. says

    A performance of “November” would be great, and a recording if possible. I know you were working on transcribing it a while ago, did you ever get ahold of the actual score, or are you going to have to use the transcription?
    Speaking of early Minimalist piano music, can you help clarify something for me? In _Minimalism: Origins_, Strickland seems to refer to three separate pieces by Terry Jennings called “Piano Piece.” The first Strickland dates to “late 1958” and describes as inspired by Young’s “For Brass” and “Trio for Strings.” He the quotes you describing it as “dodecaphonic and extremely slow, reveling in a decay of dissonant sonorities.” It sort of sounds like Strickland never actually saw a score or heard the piece himself, which is part of what worries me. He then refers to two more pieces called “Piano Piece” both written in 1960. One of the 1960 pieces seems to have been composed in June of that year and been published by La Monte Young in _An Anthology_. Does that all sound right to you? Are there really three separate pieces with the same title, and is one of them really from 1958? That should, by my calculations, make it the second Minimalist piece, assuming we count “Trio for Strings” as the first. Do you know where one might be able to get ahold of a legal, performable score of the piece aside from going through La Monte Young, who manages the Jennings scores but takes forever to respond to inquiries?
    KG replies: Galen, you’re stretching an old man’s memory. Somewhere else I have seen another Terry Jennings piano piece other than the one in Anthology. I can’t remember where, though I didn’t think it was La Monte who showed it to me – I seem to recall it’s published somewhere, I mean in a magazine or article. I don’t think I know of a third piece. Dennis Johnson did send me a score to November, though matching it up to the recording is quite a challenge, and I’ll finish the transcription anyway. Good luck finding out more than I know. You should submit something to the conference, and should show up in any case. Really good barbecue.

  4. says

    It’s startling to see you quoting Rodgers & Hammerstein for your blog post title. You’ve got me thinking about a Reichian tape loop of a subsequent line from the same song —
    They’ve gone about as far as they can go /
    They’ve gone about as far as they can go /
    They’ve gonne aboutt as farr as theyey can goo /
    Theyey’ve gonne aaboutt aas farr aas theyey caan goo / . . .
    (Apologies. To you, to Steve Reich, to Rodgers & Hammerstein, the fine people of Kansas City . . . )
    KG replies: Hey, am I so awfully highbrow, that I can’t quote a little R&H? I grew up with that stuff.

  5. says

    Not too highbrow. Too downtownbrow. (Well, OK, downtownbrows quote the likes of R&H, but usually with sarcasm, which your cite lacked.)
    Startling is good!
    KG replies: Uhh… you didn’t catch the sarcasm?

  6. says

    Seemed playfully witty, not sneeringly sarcastic.
    Comment filter words: “Involved bride”. I should hope so — a detached bride would be distressing!
    KG replies: I was kidding about the sarcasm, John. I almost attached a smiley, but I try to avoid smileys. :^D

  7. says

    Feeling myself in a bit of hole, I’ll keep digging . . .
    Not to say that downtownbrows don’t typically quote playfully wittily; merely reflecting my bias against a certain prominently successfully marketed variety of downtown compositioning, of whom you’ve waxed disapprovingly as well. And even he (yes, an individual) may think of himself as playfully witty, but that’s not how his quotes and allusions typically come across to me.
    Nice thing about holes: Good insulation!
    Anyway — best wishes with the conference — sounds fruitfully stimulating. I think it’s time for me to give the shovel back to Mr. Duchamp now.