Friday, February 29, 2008

Short Form Saturday, March 1!

The first Short Form installment in January was a stylistically diverse night --top quality experimentation with design and chock full of moments that seemed everyone in the room was holding their breath.

Short Form's second installment is Saturday, March 1, with four new 10-minute pieces by these artists:

Tina Satter
3 collaborators use one monologue to interpret the perfect human, an imperfect werewolf and doo-wop.

The Paper Industry:
In which a man (M) discovers the truth about Sir Isaac Newton, undergoes a metaphysical adolescence and becomes an existential mechanic.

Jake Hooker and Grammar School:
A solo performance/lecture with audio/visual aids on lyric Greek poetry trifurcated by personal ruminations.

The American Story Project:
The hope, grief and genius of Charles A. Lindbergh; Trans-Atlantic flights, American myths, a son’s death, a metronomic human heart, time travel, and phantoms collide in a rapidly modernizing world.

Curated by Peter Ksander and Brendan Regimbal

March 1, 10p.m.
Parish Hall, inside St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St., (at 2nd Ave), NYC
$6 cash at the door--no reservations required

More info at

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tomorrow night, Jennifer Walshe!!!

Travis Just, curator of Experimental Music, interviews Jennifer Walshe, who performs tomorrow night in the Parish Hall at 10p.m. This is an excerpt:

Travis Just:
...There is something about the term 'opera' that just screams "the Past" to me... And I say this as I am working on my first. It was hard to decide to use that word for me.

Jennifer Walshe:
that's exactly why i wanted to use it, because it is so loaded. and that's why i have pieces which i call operas and other pieces which i call music theatre pieces. when it's an opera, it knows it's "An Opera" and it's aware of what's going on by being called an opera, and dealing with the past. because if you run away completely from opera, to me that seems a little like a film-maker running away from film and calling all their films videos. also maybe on one level it has to do with who commissions it and where it is being performed - the second opera i wrote [set phasers on kill!] was commissioned by an opera production company and premiered in the hamburg staatsoper, so there was never any question at any point about whether it was an opera or not. we had the full opera house treatment with all the trimmings (people to help us get dressed). but the opera i wrote after that [Motel Abandon] was for three people and it was dogme 95 style opera in an apartment in berlin, and it was important to me to still call it opera. otherwise it's like saying that you can never write one, that an opera is always in the hands of these massively-funded organizations.

that's true. i mean it's already an act of outrageous insolence in our culture to call oneself an artist. the decision to define these terms for ourselves as composers isn't that much further along that road.

i think you just have to decide to use the terms and not let them be taken away from you.

how does the music-theater idea work itself into your music? does that mean something in particular in your thinking?

music theatre is just how i think. the cage quote which i use again and again is "what next? theatre. because we have eyes as well as ears." you can't divorce the theatrical/scenic element from the sonic in a performance unless you are brought to the theatre in a hermetically sealed car, manage not to see/hear/smell/touch anything prior to the concert, and then leave immediately without even listening to the applause. you listen to mahler 2 on CD, and it's great. then you go to carnegie hall and you see all the brass players shuffling and re-arranging themselves just before they come crashing in with a huge chord, you see the choir sitting there all quietly waiting til they come in, and it's amazing and exciting. i think a lot of the interest in the theatrical and visual elements comes from two sources for me - one is that my mother is a writer, and when i was growing up she considered beckett, pinter, tennessee williams and other playwrights an important part of my education. another important factor for me is that i was a trumpet player for a long time, and when you play in an orchestra a lot, you look around constantly, you are very aware of what is going on visually. you know when people are nervous, you know when they're about to play loud or soft, you know when they haven't practiced, you know when they are nailing it, you know how different it can sound in heldenleben when the first violinist is having an affair with the first horn.

right, the difference seems to be that now we work with those ideas directly in the score. instead of having those be (probably undesired) accidents or exceptions, they become specified material that is written in or given explicit space. At some point, something changed.

i make a differentiation in my work - there's the type of music theatre pieces where people are doing certain theatrical things, along a continuum from explicitly playing a role through to perhaps making simple scenic gestures like building blocks in between phrases. then there's instrumental theatre, which is very involved with the performers being performers. and so i end up in these situations where i write scores which are very complex, where the notation of everything from breathing, gesture, when the pages of the part are turned, when a brass-player releases their spit valve is all locked down. [they could laugh smile]

i guess one question is, what keeps it music as opposed to performance or text? does it matter even? at what point could you simply take away the brass-player and still have a music-piece?

i mean, musicians aren't the best actors always...

i'll answer your questions in order - the first one is what i think people find very problematic. is it still music if the performer doesn't play for a while and reads text? it is if it's called music. is it still music if the trombonist makes air sounds instead of pitched sounds? is it still music if the piano is prepared? i think if you call it music it is, otherwise we'd all be writing for classical ensembles, with no microphones, pitched and traditionally notated music. with the instrumental theatre pieces i write, i'm not trying to get the performers to act, which gets around the problem of musicians not always being actors. i'm just bringing gestures that are a part of performing for them into the piece. it's very normal when you're a brass player to position and re-position your mutes on the floor next to your chair. but when you get someone to do that over and over in a performance, it becomes something else.

For the entire interview, check out the Object Collection blog

The Program:
same person, not the same person
samples/sine tones/harmonica, violin/harmonica, viola/harmonica, bowed electric bass/harmonica, voice

a sensitive number for the laydeez
alto saxophone (with radios, cigarette lighter, glass bottle, wool, film canister and pebble, spray cans), percussion (with shoelaces, paper, sugar, ruler, tin whistle in D, toy keyboard, vitamin, water) piano (without piano; with shoelaces, paper, sugar, radio, ruler, mouth-blown melodica, toy keyboard, vitamin, water, notebook, spray cans), viola (with card and dictaphone), and video

3 recipe pieces:
Nursed Demulcent Cake
Layered Trifle (viola/objects)
Stellar Casserole (clarinet/objects)

performed by:
Eric KM Clark, Kara Feely, Travis Just, James Moore, Quentin Tolimieri, Jennifer Walshe, Harris Wulfson

Saturday, February 23rd 10pm
Ontological Theater (Parish Hall)
at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery
131 E. 10th Street at 2nd Avenue
New York City