Surprise Gift from the Younger Me

In case you happen to be in Canberra this Saturday (conflicts with my acupuncture appointment in Kingston, sadly), the ANU New Music Ensemble and their guests, Uncut Percussion, will give the world premiere of my The Stream (Admonitions), which I wrote in 1987 and forgot about until I ran across the manuscript this spring. (Here’s the Facebook page for the event, which reveals that they’re also playing a piece by my old friend Gerhard Stäbler.) I spent the year 1987 still living in Chicago but flying to New York City three times a month to review concerts and write for the Village Voice, so it’s not too surprising to me that a piece written amidst that chaos could have fallen through the cracks. It’s funny, of course I look at the score and know what the piece sounds like, but in another way I can’t really remember what it’s intended to sound like; editing it at this point blurs the line between composing and musicology. Though I shouldn’t downplay the originality of my own works, it’s somewhat in the style of Cage’s austerely simple pieces from the mid-1940s, like Experiences 1 & 2 and Dream, which I’ve always loved. The years 1986-1989 were the low point in my compositional life, and my music took a more Gannian turn again afterward. Nevertheless, the group’s director Alexander Hunter says rehearsals sound beautiful, they’re planning to tour the piece, and hopefully a recording will ensue to which you will have access.

UPDATE: It reminds me – when I was young I used to notice the awful, pretentious clichés on composers’ bios, and the worst, I thought, was “Wolfgang Trust-Fund’s music has been played on five continents.” Like that meant anything. But I performed Custer in Australia in 2003, had a piece played in Tokyo awhile back – if Japan counts as the Asian continent – and some friends played a piece of mine in Brazil 25 years ago, so I might as well dig it out: “Kyle Gann’s music has been played on five continents!” Just Africa and Antarctica to go, and then I’m done.