main: October 2009 Archives

Mode214-5.jpgI had expected to have two new CDs and a book out this fall, but two of them have been delayed until February. One of the CDs, however, has arrived, titled The Minimalists, by the Orkest de Volharding on Mode Records (Mode 214/5). It's a two-CD set, and the lineup consists of:

Steve Reich: City Life
Terry Riley: In C
Louis Andriessen: Worker's Union
Kyle Gann: Sunken City
John (Coolidge) Adams: Short Ride in a Fast Machine
David Lang: Street

Sunken City, of course, is my piano concerto commemorating the disaster in New Orleans that attended hurricane Katrina; the august Geoffrey Douglas Madge performs as soloist. A couple of the pieces, at least City Life, are arrangements for the Volharding's instrumentation by composer/director Anthony Fiumara. It's a damn shame that the Volharding has apparently ceased to exist now, having been defunded by the Dutch government, but I'm very happy that they held on long enough to get this CD out as their last act. It'll be on sale this weekend at the Cage Trust's Cage conference at Bard College. And it's in time for the holidays! (Among other things, I'm enjoying that this is the first time I've been listed on a CD cover last-name only, like some composer, like you're supposed to know who that is.)

October 29, 2009 9:06 PM | | Comments (4) |
Amacher1953.jpg[For emendation to the above dates, see updates below.] The music world lost one of its most bizarre characters today, and I say that with the utmost affection. Maryanne Amacher was an amazing composer of sound installations, who occasionally taught courses at Bard. I first encountered her in 1980 at New Music America in Minneapolis. She had, as was her wont, fitted an entire house with loudspeakers, and the staff was in a state of jitters because at opening time she was still obsessively running around and changing things. She was a tireless perfectionist. Years later I interviewed her for my history of American music. A Stockhausen student, she was absolutely inscrutable, so intuitive that pinning facts down was an insult to her spirit. My first ten questions having elicited no specific information, I finally asked whether her original sound sources were acoustic or electronic in origin. Her perplexed answer: "I really can't say." She was vagueness personified. Yet she was an incredible artist, and my son thought she was the best electronic music teacher Bard had. She typically wore bright red overalls and aviator goggles, and I'd be astonished if her wiry frame weighed 90 pounds. After one semester with her, one of my colleagues - an artistic and sympathetic soul, but I understood his frustration - said, "I feel like I'm on the set of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." She lived in a huge old house in Kingston that was cluttered wall to wall with papers, tapes, and technical equipment, among which one walked gingerly through narrow paths. You closed doors carefully, too, for fear the entire soggy house would fall down. But she was some kind of genius, and her spatially intricate sound installations, better appreciated in Europe than here, had to be heard live: there is no way to adequately document them on recording. As with La Monte Young, you felt that her ears were picking up things yours couldn't. She lived for her art. I heard a few weeks ago that she'd had a stroke, then from Pauline Oliveros that she was in a nursing home, and today she passed away. I do hope her work is well documented, because it is absolutely inimitable. We will never hear her like again.

UPDATE: A commenter mentions that the archival website for Maryanne gives her birthdate as 1938. Grove Dictionary gives it as 1943, but gets the town wrong (Kane, PA, not Kates). Maryanne's autobiography on the website gives no birthdate. What now?

SECOND UPDATE: Apparently she was born in 1938 - see comments. The above photo is said to date from 1953, on what authority I'm not sure.

October 22, 2009 10:11 PM | | Comments (37) |

Liturgy opening the New Yorker Festival, October 16, 2009: Tyler Dusenbury, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, Greg Fox, Bernard Gann. Listen here. The photo completely fails to convey the high-energy maelstrom of their strumming. 

October 17, 2009 6:56 PM | | Comments (2) |
Renihilation.jpgThis Friday night, Oct. 16, my son's black metal band Liturgy plays at the New Yorker festival, at the Bell House in Brooklyn, 149 7th Street, 8 PM. The event is listed as already sold out, but I'm supposed to be on a guest list. I just heard the band play live on WFMU. Their new CD Renihilation is out on the 20 Buck Spin label. It's ecstatic, in a loud and rhythmically propulsive sort of way. Even my former newspaper seems to think they're a strange but inspired choice for the festival. Not sure what that means, except that maybe it took my son 16 months out of college to get more famous than I am.

But I soldier ahead regardless. Bard College is having a John Cage symposium over Halloween, Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, for some reason, and the schedule is up here. I'm giving a talk from my new book, "The Silences of John Cage," on Sunday morning at 11. The abstract (you can read the abstracts by clicking on the lecture titles) runs as follows: 

Over the course of his long life, silence meant many different things to John Cage: an act of cultural humility, a respite from corporate Muzak, a structural space to be filled by sounds, a religious observance, a release from the ego, an equivalent to Zen meditation, a communion with nature. This paper traces the evolution of the concept of silence through Cage's biography, with special reference to the complicated evolution of ideas that led to his famous noteless (but hardly silent) sonata 4'33"

It ain't black metal, but it may be enough for a Sunday morning on All Saint's Day.

October 14, 2009 10:11 PM | |
Several performances of my music, or in which I am involved, are coming up. First of all, percussionist Andy Bliss will play my vibraphone piece Olana on a concert in Chicago this Sunday, Oct. 4, at the Chicago Temple, 77 Washington Street, at 2 PM. The concert, a duo with pianist Mabel Kwan, also includes pieces by John Luther Adams, Julia Wolfe, Eve Beglarian, Alvin Singleton, and others - looks like a great lineup.

Sarah Cahill is giving several performances of her A Sweeter Music project, on October 12 in New York City, October 18 at the Mill Valley Film Festival, and Oct. 24 at Swedish American Hall in San Francisco. The Mill Valley concert will include my War Is Just a Racket.

Peter Esmonde's documentary Trimpin: The Sound of Invention (in which I am interviewed) plays the Woodstock Film Festival, appearing at Upstate Films this Saturday, October 3, at 9:30. It's been playing all around the country too, so you should keep track at the link.

The East Coast tour of my son's black metal band Liturgy winds up at Bard College tomorrow night, October 2. I'll be there, too.

October 1, 2009 10:13 PM | | Comments (2) |

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This page is a archive of entries in the main category from October 2009.

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