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Other Minds Festival:
OM 8: Djerassi Resident Artists Program Panel Discussions (March 2002)

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Item Type: Video Duration: 5hr 12min
Event Type: Lecture / Panel Discussion Program Origin: Other Minds

Prior to each annual Other Minds Festival the featured composers have traditionally gathered together for a number of days at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside CA., to meet each other and offer presentations about their works. In this program, recorded from March 3-5, 2002, you get the rare and invaluable opportunity of sitting in on these far ranging and interactive discussions, which provide insight into each composer’s early experiences and style of composing.

In part one of this program, Charles Amirkhanian provides a brief introduction before Festival photographer John Fago attempts to put all the participants at ease about being on camera by showing some samples of his superb still photographs taken during earlier Festivals. Lou Harrison then talks about his style of composing and his use of different tuning systems, as well as offering some stories from his long career as a composer and music critic. Harrison describes his interest in composing melodies and how he often utilizes a system in which he first creates little snippets that he refers to as melodicals, which he then joins together in varying ways to create his larger works. Harrison points out that the same modular compositional technique can be used by creating bits of rhythms, tone bars, integrals, etc... To highlight his remarks Harrison plays recordings of excerpts of his “Fourth Symphony” and the “Sonata for Harpsichord.”

The second part of this program begins with Tania León presenting excerpts of her opera “Scourge of Hyacinths.” The work, based on a text by Wole Soyinka, tells the story of a Nigerian man thought to have been executed for reasons that remain unclear, and incorporates percussion and African and Cuban rhythms. Japanese composer and expert Ondes Martenot performer, Takashi Harada, relates the history of this unique electronic instrument and gives a demonstration of its various sound generating abilities. This demonstration includes many close-ups of his hands, greatly enhancing its value. Ellen Fullman then describes her work with long stringed instruments, which are essentially very long strings of wire which when gently rubbed produce longitudinal waves of sound, the frequency of which is based on the length and type of wire used. Fullman also says that in addition to the pure sound of such unique instruments and the various overtones that can be easily produced, she is also very interested in using this instrument to create songs.

In the third part of the program, Ellen Fullman finishes her presentation by playing an old blues song with an unusual guitar arrangement by the largely forgotten female blues musician Geechie Wiley. The song “Last Kind Words” was later arranged by Fullman for her long string instrument. Jazz great Randy Weston then talks about his early experience as a young black musician, starting with the exposure to jazz when growing up in Brooklyn, NY, and then later discovering Western classical music during summers in the Berkshires, home of the Tanglewood Festival. He later became increasingly interested in his African heritage, spending several years in Morocco where he opened a jazz club, as well as touring throughout West and North Africa. He eventually met and worked together with traditional master Gnawa musicians in Morocco, and shows clips from a video in which they performed together during a healing ceremony. After a brief intermission for a group photo, Pauline Oliveros then begins her presentation on the topic of music without notation. She relates how, beginning in the late 1960s she had begun to create some “Sonic Meditations” which explored the differences between hearing and listening, while also exploring the role of improvisation.

Pauline Oliveros continues her presentation in part four of the program. She illustrates her Deep Listening philosophy by trying to engage her fellow composers in an exercise in improvised vocalizations. She also describes some of her more formally composed pieces including a piano work written for Sarah Cahill. Brazilian composer Ricardo Tacuchian then gives a presentation focusing on his ideas about post-modernity and his own T System, which has been described as “a form of pitch control derived from a nine-pitch scale, a serial setting and a pitch-class set.” Tacuchian goes into great detail about the musical milieu during the 1960s in which Brazilian influences blended with Western traditions and more avant-garde elements. Richard Teitelbaum then talks about his interest in world music traditions and how he has tried to blend them into his own unique style. A founding member of the groundbreaking improvisational electronic group Musica Elettronica Viva in the 1960s, by the 1970 Teitelbaum turned his attention to other musical traditions, forming the World Band, one of the first ensembles that worked closely with master musicians from Africa, Asia, and India. Teitelbaum relates many of his collaborations with Korean and Japanese composers, going over several scores in which he utilized a shakuhachi and other traditional Asian instruments, accompanied by a variety of samples and electronic sounds.

The concluding portion of this program begins with the continuation of Richard Teitelbaum’s presentation as he takes questions from his fellow composers in which they find several points of agreement among themselves. This is followed by Annea Lockwood who relates her delight with recording various ambient sounds and describes one of her then recent sound installations, “Ground of Being.” Vocalist Tom Buckner, who has specialized in performing new and improvised avant-garde music, then discusses his past collaborations with a variety of musicians and artists, including percussionist Matthias Kaul, and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell. This multi-day event ends with a round table discussion in which the composers go into detail about their early exposure to new and contemporary classical music recordings and avant-garde performances.

Digitized by the California Audiovisual Preservation Project (CAVPP) supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

Part 1 of 5:  
Musical Selections:  Symphony No. 4 “Last Symphony” [excerpt, fourth movement] (1990, rev. 1991-95) (5:33) / Lou Harrison -- Symphony No. 4 “Last Symphony” [excerpt, third movement] (1990, rev. 1991-95) (3:14) / Lou Harrison -- Sonata for Harpsichord [excerpt, first two movements] (1999-2000) (5:44) / Lou Harrison
Performers:  Al Jarreau, vocals (Symphony)
California Symphony (Symphony)
Barry Jekowsky, conductor (Symphony)
Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord (Sonata)
Genres:  New Music; 20th Century Classical
Subject:  New music; 20th century classical; Composition (Music); Symphonies; Navajo Indians -- Legends -- Songs and music; Coyote (Legendary character) -- Songs and music; Sonatas (Harpsichord)
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Fago, John; Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003; Jarreau, Al ; Jekowsky, Barry; Burman-Hall, Linda
Recording Date:  3/3/2002
 
Part 2 of 5:  
Musical Selections:  Scourge of Hyacinths, a chamber opera [excerpts, libretto by Wole Soyinka] (1994) (3:32) / Tania León -- [unidentified Ondes Martenot music, possibly “Twilight”} (2:12) -- [unidentified music for long string instrument] (2:22) / Ellen Fullman
Performers:  Bonita Hyman, mezzo-soprano
Timothy Robert Blevins, baritone
Genres:  New Music; Unconventional Instruments
Subject:  New music; Operas -- Excerpts; Ondes Martenot music ; Unconventional instruments; Stringed instrument music
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Harrison, Lou, 1917-2003; León, Tania; Soyinka, Wole ; Hyman, Bonita ; Blevins, Timothy Robert ; Harada, Takashi ; Fullman, Ellen, 1957-
Recording Date:  3/3/2002
 
Part 3 of 5:  
Musical Selections:  Last Kind Words (ca. 1930) (3:00) / Geechie Wiley -- [excerpt of a video of Gnawa musicians of Morocco with Randy Weston’s jazz ensemble] (3:45) -- Lear, improvisation for instrumental ensemble [excerpt] (ca. 1988) (5:17) / Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster & Panaiotis (a.k.a. Peter Ward)
Performers:  Geechie Wiley, guitar and voice (Last)
Pauline Oliveros, accordion (Lear)
Stuart Dempster, didjeridu, etc. (Lear)
Panaiotis, pipes, etc. (Lear)
Genre:  New Music
Subject:  New music; Blues (Music); World music; Instrumental ensembles.; Improvisation (Music)
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Fullman, Ellen, 1957- ; Wiley, Geechie ; Weston, Randy; Oliveros, Pauline, 1932-2016; Dempster, Stuart; Panaiotis; Ward, Peter William, 1957-
Recording Date:  3/4/2002
 
Part 4 of 5:  
Genres:  New Music; 20th Century Classical
Subject:  New music; 20th century classical; World music
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Oliveros, Pauline, 1932-2016; Tacuchian, Ricardo ; Teitelbaum, Richard
Recording Date:  3/4/2002
 
Part 5 of 5:  
Musical Selections:  Ground of Being [excerpt of a tape for an installation] (2000) (2:56) / Annea Lockwood -- Improvisation No. 1 [excerpt] (2000) (3:50) / Roscoe Mitchell and Roscoe Mitchell
Performers:  Roscoe Mitchell, saxophones, flutes, and percussion (Improvisation)
Tom Buckner, vocals (Improvisation)
Genre:  New Music
Subject:  New music; Electronic music; Improvisation (Music); Vocalises (High voice) with wind instrument.
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Teitelbaum, Richard; Lockwood, Annea, 1939-; Buckner, Tom; Mitchell, Roscoe, 1940- ; Oliveros, Pauline, 1932-2016; León, Tania
Recording Date:  3/5/2002
 
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