world premieres by
American Composers Orchestra presents its first concert of the season on Friday, October 19, 2007 at 7:30pm in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall. This program taps into the creativity of a rare group of category-crossing composer-performers who fuel their cutting-edge compositions with an inventive mix of sounds, styles, influences and energies. Plugging into the power of "hybridity," saxophonist Steve Coleman, percussionist Susie Ibarra, guitarist Scott Johnson and saxophonist Ken Thomson rev-up the orchestra with their four world premieres, and Orchestra Underground plays the NYC premiere of Charles Mingus's Third Stream masterpiece Revelations. Special guest ensemble gutbucket and painter-projectionist Makoto Fujimura turn up the juice, with Principal Guest Conductor Steven Sloane at the controls.
Since ACO launched Orchestra Underground in 2004, the series has played to sold-out houses, attracting new listeners, as it has stretched the definition of the symphony orchestra through non-traditional instrumentation, experimental use of space, technological innovation, and multidisciplinary collaboration. ACO, presented by Carnegie Hall, continues to ride the wave of change in the October 19th performance, adding momentum to last season's successful enterprises, with compositions that cross the continuum of orchestral, solo, amplified, acoustic, and computer-generated. ACO will continue its successful solo "spotlights" on composer-performers and behind-the-scenes composer portrait videos of featured composers.
Music Alive Composer in Residence Derek Bermel, who advises the orchestra on programming, explains, "ACO focuses on the big picture of American music, a complex multi-faceted, and shifting landscape that can't be captured in a sound-bite. For the composers featured on this concert, performing -- singing, playing, conducting -- is as natural to their process as breathing."
The program will be repeated at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia on Sunday, October 21 at 7:30pm.
In Steve Coleman's new work for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, entitled The Illusion of Body, he continues to explore the concepts of M-BASE, a musical philosophy that "expresses our experiences through music that uses improvisation and structure as two of its main ingredients." In The Illusion of Body, Coleman constructs a musical representation of a Black Hole out of specific tonal and rhythmic figures, which are then explored as a symbol of the dynamics of Consciousness. As if by transmuting the energy of rotational momentum and electrical charge directly into sound, Coleman's visionary music pinpoints patterns that connect microcosm to macrocosm. "This story," Coleman explains, "is ultimately about the Nature of Consciousness, in the local and universal sense." The Illusion of Body is Steve Coleman's first orchestral piece for an American orchestra.
Early in his career, after hearing groups from New York led by masters like Max Roach, Art Blakey, Woody Shaw, The Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Orchestra and Sonny Rollins come through his native Chicago, Steve Coleman knew where he wanted to go next. He soon hitchhiked to New York, where he has built a legacy of projects involving creative expression and the exchange of information between international artists. In 1999, Steve Coleman was commissioned by IRCAM to write a piece featuring his band, Steve Coleman and Five Elements, interacting with his own computer software program. In 2000-2001 he withdrew from performing/recording and began a study sabbatical. During this time he traveled extensively to India, Indonesia, Cuba and Brazil, and continued much of his research as a music professor at the University of California at Berkeley's Center for New Music and Technology.
After her critically-acclaimed solo performance on ACO's Orchestra Underground's 2006-2007 season, Susie Ibarra returns with a concerto for drums, visuals, and orchestra entitled Pintados Dream (The Painted's Dream), which juxtaposes notions of modernity and timelessness in "a story of ancestral heritage and a departure from tradition." Told in two musical movements accentuated by the sublime visual imagery of Makoto Fujimura's projections, Pintados Dream emerges from Ibarra's ongoing documentary fieldwork with the indigenous people of Japan and the Philippine Islands -- "warriors, spiritualists, humanists and artists [who] continue to live as some of the oldest residents on this earth." As the instruments of the orchestra channel these indigenous voices, Fujimura's projections interact with the performance, sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely, but always in gestures that speak ancient languages in modern tongues.
Susie Ibarra has been nominated "Best Drummer" by Village Voice, Downbeat, Jazziz and The Wire. She currently performs solo works and with the Susie Ibarra Trio, with Jennifer Choi and Craig Taborn; Mephista, collective electro-acoustic trio with Sylvie Courvoisier and Ikue Mori; Shapechanger with poet Yusef Komunyakaa; Mark Dresser and the Susie Ibarra Duo; and Filipino trance music, with Roberto Rodriguez, Electric Kulintang.
Educated bi-culturally between the US and Japan, Makoto Fujimura's paintings have been exhibited all over the world. He was honored in 1992 as the youngest artist ever to have had a piece acquired by Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. His paintings address the creative process and what it means to see.
Pioneering postmodernist Scott Johnson, known for blending the DNA of chamber music and rock bands in scores for mixed electro-acoustic ensembles, will appear as electric guitar soloist in his first work for orchestra, Stalking Horse. Based on Rent Party, a 1994 chamber work, Stalking Horse finds the guitar and orchestra meeting on a syncopated terrain of transformed popular dance rhythms.
Trained in both music and visual arts at the University of Wisconsin, Scott Johnson has sought to forge a new relationship between classical tradition and the popular culture that surrounds it. Since the early 1980's, he has played an influential role in the trend towards incorporating rock-derived instrumentation into traditionally scored compositions, and has often used taped, sampled and MIDI-controlled electronic elements within instrumental ensembles. His music has been heard in performances by the Kronos Quartet and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and his own ensembles; in dance works performed by the Boston Ballet, the London Contemporary Dance Theater, and the Ballets de Monte Carlo; in Paul Schrader's film Patty Hearst; and in recordings on the Nonesuch, CRI, and Point labels.
Brooklyn-based clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer Ken Thomson suggests that Wait Your Turn is a piece for two different orchestras. For Thomson, "hybridity" is not a synonym for "synthesis" -- rather, he sets the concepts of "classical" and "jazz" side by side physically in the form of Orchestra Underground and gutbucket, and lets them work out their differences musically. "Both groups get their time to shine," according to Thomson, who is not afraid to let them "violently disagree" about the terms of their relationship. Though one ensemble is bigger than the other, Thomson feels the fight will be fair: "I guess that they'll be about the same volume level!" Wait Your Turn is Ken Thomson's first piece for orchestra.
Ken Thomson is a founding member of Anti-Social Music, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the work of emerging composers. His compositions have been performed at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival/Institute, Anti-Social Music concerts, at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival. As an instrumentalist, he has also performed in a variety of jazz, rock, classical chamber music and other settings, including with the chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound, Bang on a Can, and So Percussion, and is a member of the punk/cabaret band World/Inferno Friendship Society and klezmer duo, Bop Kaballah.
Flitting from hard rock to Latin to thrash to klezmer and back, often within the space of a few bars, gutbucket veritably attacks their music with the kind of ferocity usually reserved for punk, despite having earned their jazz bona fides. In seven years, they have engaged in numerous projects-many of them more akin to the art-rock stage antics of The Flaming Lips or Phish than the somber-minded blowing of the downtown atonalists. Gutbucket is Ty Citerman (guitar), Ken Thomson (saxophone), Eric Rockwin (bass) and Paul Chuffo (drums).
One of the most important figures in 20th-century American music, Charles Mingus was a virtuoso bass player, accomplished pianist, bandleader and composer. He played and recorded with the leading musicians of the 1950's-Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington. It was the presentation of Revelations, which combined jazz and classical idioms, at the 1955 Brandeis Festival of the Creative Arts that established him as a seminal figure in the development of the Third Stream. From the 1960's until his death in 1979 at age 56, Mingus remained in the forefront of American music.
Spotlight performances are designed to showcase emerging artists of diverse influences, and create an aesthetic connection with other works on the program. The October 19th concert will feature composer-cellist Anna Clyne collaborating with visual artist and designer Joshue Ott.
Entirely composed from a small palette of vocal and cello recordings, Anna Clyne's paintbox is a piece for amplified cello and tape, accompanied by on-the-spot drawings provided by artist Joshue Ott. Anna Clyne will perform on cello.
London-born Anna Clyne is a composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music. Her work, which includes collaborative projects with cutting-edge choreographers, film-makers, visual artists and musicians, has been commissioned and performed throughout the US and internationally. Recent honors include commissions from Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Roulette/Jerome Foundation, awards from ASCAP and SEAMUS, performances by the American Composers Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra and a residency with the Los Angeles-based Hysterica Dance Company. Anna Clyne holds a first-class Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Edinburgh University and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. She currently resides in New York.
Joshue Ott is a multi-disciplined media artist and designer. Performing with superDraw, his custom built visual software instrument, Ott bends lines and movements - creating improvised hand drawn forms which rest in a comfortable space between minimalism, psychedelica and curious simplicity. With the subdued use of color amidst stark black and white, Ott's visual work complements music perfectly, highlighting contrast and maneuvering through moment driven change. By taking advantage of the immediacy of on the spot art, made outside the computer, and transferred through it, Ott is able to unite the worlds of the physical and digital to make a perfect union of human control and computer fueled chance.
Tickets & Info
Tickets for performances at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall are $36 and $46. Subscriptions are also available. For tickets, call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, go online at www.carnegiehall.org, or visit the Carnegie Hall box office at 154 West 57th Street at 7th Ave.
For ACO's series at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, subscriptions and tickets are available by calling 215-898-3900 or online at www.pennpresents.org.
Major support of American Composers Orchestra is provided by ACO's Inner Circle, American Symphony Orchestra League, Amphion Foundation, Argosy Contemporary Music Fund, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, ASCAP Foundation, Bay and Paul Foundations, BMI, BMI Foundation, NY City Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Fidelity Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, The Henfield Foundation, Victor Herbert Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, Jerome Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Neil Family Fund, The New York Community Trust, The New York State Music Fund established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Rodgers Family Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation, Emma A. Sheafer Charitable Trust, Virgil Thomson Foundation, Paul Underwood, The Sonata and Watchdog Charitable Trusts, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund.
ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Derek Bermel is the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with American Composers Orchestra. Music Alive is a national program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer.