Ryan Nestor + Concert Talk with Charissa Noble

multimedia works exploring sound and imagery of wartime and violence

Sat., Feb. 25, 2023
Doors at 8pm | Show at 8:30pm
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$18 General / $14 Members / $9 Students
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Exploring sonic signifiers of wartime and violence, percussionist Ryan Nestor performs multimedia works linking sound, imagery, and historical context. UCSC Musicology alum and Director of San Diego New Music Charissa Noble leads the audience in a post-concert discussion. 

Ryan Nestor

Ryan Nestor is a percussionist specializing in contemporary music. As a performer, Nestor has commissioned and premiered numerous solo and chamber works. Currently on faculty at the University of San Diego, Nestor teaches applied percussion and a variety of music courses. He is a former member of the percussion ensemble Red Fish Blue Fish and has performed alongside groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble and The Bang on a Can All-Stars. Performance highlights include appearances at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Cervantino Music Festival, Ojai Music Festival, and the Old Globe Theater, where he served as music director for the 2014 production of Othello. Nestor earned the DMA degree from the University of California, San Diego, the MM from Stony Brook University, and the BMME from the University of Kentucky.

Charissa Noble

Charissa Noble is a musicologist and vocalist, specializing in new music. Her interdisciplinary research encompasses 20th century California modern art and music, experimental vocal practice and critical voice studies, early electronic music, performance art, and popular music video aesthetics and criticism. Charissa frequently presents her research at academic gatherings such as the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the International Society for Minimalist Music, Music and the Moving Image at New York University, and also participated in the first meeting of Cornell University’s After Experimentalism conference. Her work has been featured in journals published by UCLA, USC, SUNY Buffalo, as well as the Journal of Musicological Research, Sound American, and The Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, and the Bulletin of the Society for American Music. She is also deeply committed to the advancement of the arts scene in San Diego: Charissa is the Executive Director of San Diego New Music, and has collaborated with the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, San Diego Art Institute, and Art of Élan.

Program Notes 

RATTLE watch

RATTLE watch (2021) is a multimedia work by Ryan Nestor.

Throughout its noisy history, the wooden ratchet has been used for a variety of purposes.
A fairly common sound effect in classical music, the ratchet is performed by percussionists for a frenetic, quirky, or comedic effect. Beyond the concert hall, the ratchet is whirled in contexts ranging from sporting events, religious ceremonies, and children’s play.

Almost entirely unknown today, however, is the ratchet’s portentous history as a warning device. Predating the whistle or siren, the ratchet’s cacophonous noise served as a warning signal dating back to 1658, when Peter Stuyvesant formed the “Rattle Watch,” an overnight street patrol that prevented crime and served as a fire brigade who rang the town bell at the sight of smoke and flames. On uneventful nights, the Rattle Watch marked the passage of time, spinning their ratchets every hour, on the hour, throughout the night. Years later, soldiers during WWI used the ratchet as an alert signal for the presence of poison gas. At the sound of the ratchet, soldiers quickly donned their cumbersome gas masks in preparation of the noxious vapor.

The ratchet’s forgotten semiotic significance as a sonic defense mechanism inspired my multimedia work, RATTLE watch. This piece begins by recalling the sounds of the Watch, indicated by the measured clicks of the ratchet, moving nearer and farther, faster and slower. As the ratchet’s presence accelerates and intensifies, its urgent outbursts evoke the violence of wartime. Later, the Watch shines powerful lights towards the sky where danger certainly lurks. The searchlights illuminate dark clouds. Or are those billows of smoke? Long bell tones echo the lights that scan the night sky. It is now late in the evening, the hour marked by its peals. The air is filled with poison and chaos. Bell and ratchet, pitch and noise. Masks on. Seek shelter.

This is not a Drill (2018)

At a time of heightened nuclear rhetoric and provocations, anxieties of the Cold War are reemerging. After decades of silence, the sirens are again sounding. This multimedia work, like the siren, recalls an ominous past while warning against the dangers of the present.

Jürg Frey at Indexical

Swiss composer Jürg Frey’s music has been a through-line since the early days of Indexical. Our assocation with an artist who New Yorker critic Alex Ross called a “composer of quiet” traces back to 2013 when composer Jack Callahan curated a 3-hour concert during a frigid January evening in Brooklyn Heights, featuring the U.S. Premiere of Frey’s Unhörbare Zeit for string quartet and percussion, and continued through 2021 with the release of Frey’s Colours of Silence, recorded here in Santa Cruz by Teodora Stepančić, Assaf Gidron, and Martin Lorenz.

An early member of the Wandelweiser group of composers, Frey’s work picks up where the silence of John Cage’s later works leave off. Silence and sound become equals, and fragile sonorities and slow, meditative pacing leave room for thoughts to wander. On Saturday night at Indexical, percussionist Ryan Nestor performs Frey’s Metall, Stein from 2003, a 30-minute work for crotales, finger cymbals, and triangles. Only first performed in the U.S. in 2022, this solo percussion work is exemplary of a compositional style that has become a (literally) quiet revolution in chamber music in the last two decades. 

Jürg Frey was born in Aarau in 1953. After studying at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève in Thomas Friedli’s solo class, he began a career as a clarinettist. Later his composing activity became increasingly important. He was subsequently invited by various institutions to give workshops, lectures and retrospective events about his work. He has been a guest at the Berlin University of Arts, at Dortmund University, at University of California San Diego, and several times at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. and at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA.

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.
His music is published by Edition Wandelweiser. Jürg Frey is a member of the Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble that gives concerts in Europe, North America and Japan.

Important stages in his public activity and his compositional development were his concerts and collaborations with the pianist John McAlpine from Cologne, with Radu’s w.i.r. (Vienna), the Bozzini Quartet (Montréal), the QO-2 Ensemble (Brussels), the performance group Die Maulwerker, the incidental music ensemble, the Chicago based a.pe.ri.od.ic and the American pianist R. Andrew Lee, and the UK pianist Philip Thomas.

Jürg Frey has received invitations from renowned institutions such as MaerzMusik (Berlin), the Rheinisches Musikfest (Cologne), Interpretations (New York), the Centre Culturel Suisse (Paris) and Constellations (Chicago).
He has particularly often been the guest of small, creative concert organizers such as Klangraum Düsseldorf, music we’ d like to hear (London), Ny Musik Boras (Sweden), The Dog Star Orchestra (Los Angeles), heim.art Neufelden (Austria) The Miniaturist Ensemble (New York), Klang im Turm (Munich), a.pe.ri.od.ic (Chicago), Louth Contemporary Music Society (Ireland), the wulf (Los Angeles), and Ordinary Affects (Boston).

His recordings are publiehd by Edition Wandelweiser Records (Germany), b-boim records, (Austria),  L’innomable records (Slovenia), Irritable Hedgehog (US), Cathnor (UK), Grammont (Switzerland)  Erstwhile Records (US) New Focus Redcordings (US) ftarri (JAP), Another Timbre (UK) and elsewhere (US).

In 2010 he was the guest composer at the Other Minds Festival of New Music in San Francisco.  In 2015 he was the Composer in Residence at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK).