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Other Minds Festival:
OM 6: Concert 1, March 16, 2000 (video)

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Item Type: Video Duration: 117 min
Event Type: Music Program Origin: Other Minds

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The first concert of the 6th Other Minds Festival was held on March 16, 2000 at the Theatre Artaud, in San Francisco. Guest Artistic Director Carl Stone begins the proceedings with some introductory remarks and then introduces all the featured composers as they gather on stage for a group photo. The concert then begins with:

The Three Strange Angels

Was written in Southern California in 1972-73, at a point when I was trying to break away from the quiet, pretty, repetitive ("minimalist") style of my earliest pieces. I was living in a cabin in the desert/canyon country north of Cal Arts, deeply involved in researching Native American music and culture, and their relationship to landscape " an ongoing concern in my work. I was also strongly influenced by the music and ideas of Harry Partch, and by my studies of surrealism, shamanism and psychedelia. The piece takes its title from a poem by D. H. Lawrence, "Song of a Man Who Has Come Through," whose most memorable line is "Not I, but the wind that blows through me" (in regards to the creative process). This piece was that type of "breakthrough" piece for me, which can be heard in the elemental violence and simplicity of the music. The lesson being, to welcome, rather than fear, these forces. The second movement, for instance, "came to me" while sick with a very high fever. And even being the composer, my initial reaction to this music was: "What is this?!" The last time I performed this piece was with William Winant in 1984 at New Langton Arts, an evening I remembered especially because our friend, the late Jim Pomeroy, hosted a party for us afterwards. The work has been recorded twice; once in the early 1980s by Jack Loeffler and myself, for the LP anthology, Cold Blue; and again in the early 90s by the University of New Mexico Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Chris Shultis, for the CD, Border Music, on the Non Sequitur label, still available from 00 Discs. - Peter Garland

Greetings

Lyrics (Arabic): Ismail Hasan

Music: Hamza El Din

In many traditional cultures marriage is not simply an agreement between two people, but a complex arrangement between two families whose membership may extend to entire clans. Without the goodwill of their families, a couple cannot sustain a working marriage. Unfortunate circumstances set the stage for "Greetings": a young couple has been obliged to divorce because of a dispute between their families. After the divorce, the young man and woman return to their respective homes, but their families happen to be neighbors whose houses are adjacent to one another and share a common wall. Each lover can hear the other's voice across the wall, but neither can see the other.

No letters, no greetings, beloved one.

In your absence my eyes are empty

but my mind is glowing

with messages I am sending you.

You have captured my mind.

I ache to see you.

All night I lie sleepless.

Where can I find you, my one hope?

How can I be with you, my one joy?

The pages of my mind are covered

with messages I am sending you.

No letters, no greetings, beloved one.

In your absence my eyes are empty

but my mind is glowing

with messages I am sending you.

Hamza el Din

Escalay (Water Wheel)

The water wheel is an ancient irrigation device, used to this day to bring water to the fields of Nubia, along the banks of the Nile. Someone always has to sit on the wheel, to keep the oxen yoked to the waterwheel moving. It is a duty most often given to your boys or old men.

Escalay describes the experience of one boy, who rises before dawn to tend the water wheel. The huge wooden gears of the escalay are noisy, yet the rhythm of the water falling, gears turning, and scenery turning in a circle, hypnotize the boy sitting on the wheel. He begins to sing along with the rhythm of the wheel as it turns and he becomes entranced, forgetting the oxen (and everything else) until the water no longer reaches the fields. The boy is finally awakened by an old man calling out to him to keep the animals moving and the wheel turning. The old man sings a sacred song, calling for the holiday prayer to commemorate the sacrifice of the prophet Abraham. - H. e. D.

Memory Pieces

One of the horrifying things about growing older is that your friends don't all grow older with you. People get sick and then they die. You watch, you try to comfort them, and then you try to comfort yourself. The true horror is that after a while your memories begin to fade. How long can you hold on to the sound of a voice, the memory of a strange event, a bittersweet feeling, a silly story?

I was friends with all the dedicatees of Memory Pieces"some were closer friends than others"and I have very personal memories of my dealings with them that I don't want to fade. Each of these little pieces highlights some aspect of my relationship with each friend. I hope this will help me hold on to these memories just a little while longer.

There are a few ways to approach these pieces. In one respect they are inventions, each an intellectual and philosophical exploration of one distinct, mechanical way to make music. They are also little etudes, as each one highlights a different technical concern, such as overlapping arpeggios (spartan arcs), polyrhythmic counterpoint (wed), or strange cross-hands (cello). The way I choose to look at them is as laboratories for larger works. If I can incorporate the music or the ideas or the techniques of these little pieces into other works, then I am in some way keeping something of my friendship alive.

I would like to thank the different pianists who have either premiered one or more of these works or who have offered advice about how to edit or present these pieces - David Arden, Carlo Boccadoro, Anthony de Mare, Moritz Eggert, Lisa Moore. Most of all I want to thank Yvar Mikhashoff"I was writing Yvar a piece when John Cage died (12 August 1992). I put that piece aside and wrote cage, which Yvar then played several times. Yvar was already ill then and it was his idea that I write a series of memorial pieces. If there is any one person to whom this entire set should be dedicated it is Yvar. - David Lang

Solo Improvisations

The compositions to be performed were created especially for the technical options of the violin/viola. Each section is designed to suggest various emotions through melody, color, texture and rhythm. IMPROVISATION is the glue that holds it all together. - Leroy Jenkins

Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery

Was inspired by machine and factory sounds: the metallic scrapes, squeaks, and bangs; the ambient buzzes and whines; and the imperfect rhythmic repeats of heavy machinery. During a recent residency in Nuremberg, Germany, I conducted six weeks of research into these utilitarian industrial sounds, visiting factories, observing and listening to all types of machinery, and recording sounds on site. I was particularly fascinated by the sense of gradually changing environments that occur in a large factory as the sounds shift from the ambient hum of fluorescent lights, to the grinding harmonics of buzzsaws, to the rhythmic crashes and bangs of huge metal presses. Machine rhythms go in and out of phase, dynamics vary wildly, and in an environment of ever-changing activity and noise, the frequency spectrum fluctuates from sub-audio rumbles to barely audible high-pitched whines.

My interpretation of these shifting environments ranges from the literal (rhythmic transcriptions of the recordings that I made on site) to the fanciful (Russian-constructivist-inspired evocations of industrial activity). Strings focus on microtonal variations of pitch, replacing equal-temperament with the untuned buzzing, humming, and grinding sounds of machines. Percussion instruments are all of indefinite pitch, and imitate the banging, scraping, and hissing cacophony of the factory.

If all pieces are biographical, this is no exception. When I first started work on Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery, I awoke to a veritable lexicon of machine and work-related sounds: a large crew of jackhammers tearing up my street, men on scaffolds hammering away at the brick facade outside my window, and a symphony of band saws, crowbars, and sledgehammers renovating the apartment upstairs. Trying to work through the constant noise created more moments of desperation than inspiration for me, but the cacophony and hammering always brought me back to the random rhythms and shifting patterns of utilitarian noise. - Annie Gosfield

Commissioned by Other Minds and underwritten by the American Composers Forum

with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation

Musical Selections:  The Three Strange Angels (1972-73) (7:55) / Peter Garland -- Greetings, for oud and voice [text by Ismail Hasan] (4:21) / Hamza el Din -- Escalay (Water Wheel), for oud and voice (15:43) / Hamza el Din -- Memory Pieces: Cage (In Memory of John Cage) (6:07) ; Spartan Arcs (In Memory of Yvar Mikhashoff) (4:07) ; Wed (In Memory of Kate Ericson) (3:46) ; Grind (In Memory of Jacob Druckman) (6:08) ; Diet Coke (In Memory of Bette Snapp) (4:10) ; Cello (In Memory of Anna Cholakian) (3:47), for piano (1992-1997) / David Lang -- Solo Improvisations, for violin and viola (2000) (33:14) / Leroy Jenkins -- Flying Sparks and Heavy Machinery, for string quartet and percussion ensemble (2000) (14:45) / Annie Gosfield [world premiere]
Performers:  William Winant, bass drum & bullroarer (Three)
Peter Garland, piano (Three)
Hamza el Din, oud and vocals (Greetings ; Escalay)
Aki Takahashi, piano (Memory)
Leroy Jenkins, violin and viola (Solo)
The Onyx Quartet: (Flying)
Anna Presler, violin; (Flying)
Phyllis Kamrin, violin; (Flying)
Kurt Rohde, viola; (Flying)
Leighton Fong, cello (Flying)
Reddrum: (Flying)
Justin DeHart, percussion (Flying)
Mike McCurdy, percussion (Flying)
Michael Crain, percussion (Flying)
Daniel Kennedy, director (Flying)
Genres:  New Music; 20th Century Classical
Subject:  New music; 20th century classical; Percussion and piano music; World music; Ethnic music; Oud music; Songs with oud; Minimal music; Piano music; Improvisation (Music); Violin music; Viola music; String quartet with percussion ensemble; Chamber music
People:  Stone, Carl, 1953-; Garland, Peter, 1952-; El Din, Hamza; Hasan, Ismail; Lang, David (David A.); Jenkins, Leroy; Gosfield, Annie, 1960-; Winant, William; Takahashi, Aki, 1944-; Presler, Anna; Kamrin, Phyllis; Rohde, Kurt; Fong, Leighton ; Kennedy, Daniel; DeHart, Justin ; McCurdy, Mike; Crain, Michael
Recording Date:  3/16/2000
 
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