The second concert of the 17th Other Minds Festival of New Music (OM 17) began with a panel discussion with some of the composers and performers featured in the night’s concert, held on March 2, 2012. Joining moderator Charles Amirkhanian was Harold Budd, Gloria Coates, Ikue Mori, and Tyshawn Sorey. Harold Budd talks about his early career, starting with a military band about 50 years ago and then his growing interest in jazz. In fact he states that his entire artistic goal has been to recapture the same feelings he had when first hearing Stan Getz playing. He also relates how his collaboration with Brian Eno led to a growing interest in improvising as well as considerable financial success. Gloria Coates discusses her decision to move to from her home in Wisconsin to Munich, Germany in 1969 and her growing interest in resonance and microtones. Coates, one of the most prolific female symphonic composers, surprisingly states that when she began she was not even fully conscious that they were symphonies. Ikue Mori then talks about her use of digital percussion in her largely improvised performances. When asked how she corrects a wayward ensemble she laughingly replies that she simply stops playing and waits for the others to notice. Fellow percussionist Tyshawn Sorey then adds that he almost wished that the earlier sound check was the actual concert, pointing out that Mori, and fellow collaborator Ken Ueno, always gives 100% in every situation.
String Quartet No. 5:
In the Fifth Quartet, the first movement seems deceptively simple: a double canon entirely within the A minor scale, no flat or sharp anywhere. The strings of the first violin and viola, however, are tuned a quarter-tone higher than those of the second violin and cello, creating a canonic reflection a quarter-tone away from the octave, and giving the entire canon an eerie, generally unsettled atmosphere despite the simplicity of its slow melodies. The second movement is a texture of carefully notated, continuous glissandos, amid which fragments of a familiar tune appear"Coates cites the quotation as "Fling Out the Banner, Let it Wave," but the tune has also appeared as a Christmas carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." This is a case in which the tune so inconspicuously weaves in and out of the glissandos, played by first one instrument and now another, that it will not always be perceived. The third movement is one of the most unusual offerings in an unusual output, reminiscent of that early student quartet from 1962 in that it is entirely in glissandos. Moving in different tempos, all four instruments slide upward and downward through intervals that at first increase in size through quarter-tones, then diminish. The texture has a feeling of constant uncertainty, with no firm, unchanging note to hold onto until the final, long-sustained chord of open strings. The string quartet literature affords few, if any other, such dizzying experiences. - Kyle Gann
Some additional notes: The second movement goes back to Symphony no. 2 written in 1973...and is a mirror canon..uses as a basic structure...a theory I developed then of using structures instead of scales...I did go went further with this structure in my third string quartet, then the fifth and finally as an element in the last one...nine...
The last movement goes back to another form from a quartet in 1962 to 63 and then used in "Symphony No. 1" (Music on Open Strings) 1973...last movement...as a form structure instead of a scale as the above mentioned mirror canon....and developed throughout my work. It is a mirror canon as well, but refracted in its use of the intervals which are in microtones, and which change the time proportions.
This quartet was originally written as a commission from a famous US quartet in 1983. I sent it to them a couple years later and received a letter saying "We are not playing this type of music now. Try again." I did not write another quartet for them since I felt this was my best work, and that I could never do better. The original title was Tuning the Rig, named after the book by Harvey Oxenhorn who was killed a week after leaving Yaddo at that time. After the rejection, I changed the title to String Quartet No. 5. - Gloria Coates
It's Only a Daydream:
For piano and bass.
An Improvisation Set:
For percussion, electronics, and voice