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I.5: Together

Sun., Jun. 17, 2012
Doors at 9:30pm | Show at 10pm
St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
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Together contains duos of identical instruments: two violins, two guitars, two snare drums. While in these pieces the two instrumentalists are often treated as a single being, a certain dialogue between them remains inevitable. The program features String Noise (violinists Conrad Harris & Pauline Kim Harris) performing Jürg Frey’s Ohne Titel (2 Violinen), Dean Rosenthal’s Perfect for String Noise, and premieres by Andrew C. Smith and Jason Brogan; and Beau Sievers & Jack Callahan performing music for snare drums by KCM Walker.

Jason Brogan resides in Brooklyn, New York, and works with non-/musical materials. “Nothing but the two of us dragging through the flowers.” Keywords: dramatization, two, violins, Samuel Beckett, Assez (trans. Enough), François Laruelle, empty sampler, love

Dean Rosenthal works with mathematical formulas and found objects as his central practice. He is interested in the ontological and phenomenological offsets that occur and reintegrate during the course of composing and hearing. He serves as a co-editor of The Open Space Web Magazine and contributing editor to other Open Space publications. www.deanrosenthal.org, www.the-open-space.org

In Perfect for String Noise, the duo String Noise gradually completes a rhythmic line of 60 beats with 15 different and unique 4-note rhythmic motifs in a logical process known as rhythmic tiling. Each motif is introduced by the subsequent chromatic pitch beginning on F natural until the entire chromatic is filled, after which the remaining 3 pitches double the first 3 at the octave. Once the line is completely tiled and all 60 beats have been filled, the resulting melody is played either in unison or as a hocket.

K C M Walker (1985) was born in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in South Carolina. His work has been performed in various cities in the United States and Europe, in concert halls, rivers and caves. In 2012, he received an MA in Composition from Wesleyan University where he studied with Alvin Lucier, Anthony Braxton and Ron Kuivila. He cites eschatology, mythology, mysticism and games as being important to his work. music for snare drums explores space, rhythmic relationships and their relationship with each other.

Andrew C. Smith is a composer and pianist from Washington State, living in Brooklyn. His music deals with language, connectedness, and the process of tuning. He manages the S.E.M. Ensemble and produces the Transient Series. He studied English and Music at Willamette University and Trinity College Dublin.

Topology (contriving balance) is connected; the performers listen to one another to find their points. This series of phrases outlines a set of pitches that may be tuned with one or two steps from an open string of the violin, and explores this set intuitively. It and its companion piece, Topology (phases of this difference), are forthcoming on a double LP release on Index. The subtitles are stolen from Wallace Stevens.

Jürg Frey was born in 1953 in Aarau. Following his musical education, which finished with the examen de virtuosité in the class of Thomas Friedli at the Concervatoire de Musique de Genève, he turned to a career as a clarinetist, but his activities as composer soon came to the foreground. He developed his own language as a composer and sound artist with the creation of wide, quiet sound spaces. His work is marked by an elementary non-extravagence of sound, a sensibilty for the qualities of the material, and precision of compositional approach. He is a member of the Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble which has presented concerts for more than 15 years in Europe, North America and Japan. Frey lives with his family in Aarau (Switzerland), teaches clarinet, and organises the concert series moments musicaux aarau as a forum for contemporary music.

Ohne Titel (Zwei Violinen) is emblematic for much of Jürg Frey’s work, because here, as elsewhere, the idea of two runs very deep.

A piece begins with something – some group of similar sounds, or some manner of performance; and then, without warning, reason, or justification, simply changes to something else.

These are moments in which all lies open, where the imminent need to decide threatens to become almost a kind of panic.

In Ohne Titel (Zwei Violinen) “two” means not just two moments in time (i.e., before and after), but two persons. Throughout most of the piece the players play the same part, exactly the same notes. And here there is an interesting principle: the more similar the musicians actually sound, the more one senses their separation. This implies that, in this work, two is most visible at the border of one, where an infinite proximity reveals a fundamental difference.

Every thing in this piece seems to move from one extreme to the other: by leaps or sudden contrasts. In each case the physical limit of the instrument is approached in way that suggests that the music would continue, beyond the realm of the physical and audible.

With the emphasis on boundaries, we are strongly directed towards a metaphorical kind of space, enclosed not with walls but with windows, which allow us a view to the horizon.

And still, this music is a song. But this song either speaks with gestures of great intensity or hardly at all. There is just the slightest echo of melody: Verdi’s “scala enigmatica,” itself an echo of melody. In this piece we hear song as pure longing, reaching for something that will forever remain just out of our grasp.

–Michael Pisaro (slightly edited)

String Noise is violinists Conrad Harris & Pauline Kim Harris, “two of the most focused and lustrous-toned avant stalwarts in New York City.” They made their duo debut at the 2011 Ostrava Days Festival in the Czech Republic, with the premiere of Eric Lyon’s noise-guided duo String Noise. Their NYC debut, “A Concert For Two Violins,” presented by Exapno,” channeled “all the sweetness of Mantovani’s 1001 strings into just eight,” with works composed for them by some of the finest and craziest composers on both sides of the Atlantic: Petr Kotik, Caleb Burhans, Elizabeth Hoffman, Matthew Welch, Stephanie Huguenin, Ellen O’Meara, Elizabeth Adams, Yoon-Ji Lee, and Michael V. Waller, as well as a piece for violins and fixed media by composer and “ninja-violinist” Todd Reynolds.

String Noise was featured in Performa 2011 in Will Cotton’s first live stage performance “Cockaigne” which embodied a short ballet inspired by the ethereality of cotton candy (in collaboration with composer John Zorn and choreographer Charles Askegard), and a burlesque-inspired whipped cream dance with music by Caleb Burhans. This was presented again in 2012 by WERK!: The Armitage Gone Variety Show at the Abrons Arts Center.

String Noise has also premiered works by Christian Wolff, Cat Lamb, Andrew C. Smith, Jason Brogan, and Dean Rosenthal. They can be heard on Elizabeth Hoffman’s Red Is the Rows, just released on Perspectives of New Music/Open Space as part of a 3-CD box set Milton Babbitt: A Composers’ Memorial. Soon to be released are recordings on Experimental Intermedia, featuring a new duo by Phill Niblock, and a full length vinyl recording with works by Andrew C. Smith, Jason Brogan, and Cat Lamb, as well as quartets by Beau Sievers and Jack Callahan.