17 Lyrics of Li Po for tenor violin and intoning voice
By the Rivers of Babylon for voice and adapted viola
Barstow: 8 Hitchhiker Inscriptions for intoned voice and adapted guitar
stephen kalm, intoning voice
john schneider, intoning voice, adapted viola and adapted guitar
theodore mook, tenor violin
for more detailed information on the compositions and the composer, please see the composer's website
biographical information for thomas buckner and theodore mook may be found at this site and the artists' respective websites.
There's a genre of folk-tale where the hero enters a castle & spends the night, only to find that years have passed when he steps outside. I think this reflects our deep longing to alter the flow of time: time, biologically, is not measured in regular, precise increments. From the iambic heartbeat and the similar breath (inhalation, relatively longer exhalation) to the continually reset 25+ hour circadian rhythm of sleep and waking, our very humanity is dependent on the lopsided and idiosyncratic. And we synchronize and set the speed of our clocks with what we hear. The composer's major responsibility is the structuring of time, and no composer drives to the human heart of the matter like Morton Feldman. Time flows differently for the listener during and after hearing one of his pieces. In Patterns in a Chromatic Field, he never allows repose: the patterns shift, sometimes with exquisite subtlety, sometimes with wrenching suddenness, the silvery thread of the piece spinning out to span a huge distance. For the performers, the journey is a very different one from the listener, counted out step by step - five paces from the old oak tree, four paces (in the space of seven) from the stone wall - but no less transfiguring.
Born in New York City in 1926, Morton Feldman began studying piano and composition as a child. At the age of 18, Feldman studied with Stefan Wolpe, but by his own admission, all they did was argue about music. In 1949 Feldman met John Cage, whose influence and encouragement aided the development of Feldman's unique voice. Feldman's friends and associates also included the abstract expressionist painters Mark Rothko, Phillip Guston, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg, as well as musicians and composers. Feldman developed a graph notation form of written music in which the music was not explicitly notated and player improvisation was a major component. Although in 1969 Feldman returned to precise notation, he is best known for his pieces of extremely long duration and indeterminacy. In 1973 Feldman became the Edgard Varese Professor as the University of New York at Buffalo, a post he held until his death in 1987.
"At this first meeting I brought John (Cage) a string quartet. He looked at it a long time and then said, "How did you make this?" I thought of my constant quarrels with Wolpe and also that, just a week before, after showing a composition of mine to Milton Babbitt and answering his questions as intelligently as I could, he said to me, "Morton, I don't understand a word you're saying." And so, in a very weak voice, I answered John, "I don't know how I made it". The response to this was startling. John jumped up and down, and, with a kind of high monkey squeal, screeched, "Isn't that marvelous. Isn't that wonderful? It's so beautiful, and he doesn't know how he made it."
--from the collected essays of Morton Feldman, Autobiography
**It is around 100 minutes long, with no intermission, come prepared (dehydrated).
Announcing the premiere performances of Daniel Rothman’s Nothing Personal, in Berkeley CA on March 11th as a part of the Four Seasons Arts Series, and at Roulette, in NYC on April 12. Performers: Thomas Buckner, baritone, JD Parran, bass clarinet, Theodore Mook, cello.
Nothing Personal was a collaboration between James Baldwin and Richard Avedon, published in 1964. Rereading it fifty-two years later defies the imagination; anyone who could not identify the words as Baldwin’s would make one wonder why they’re combined with images of George Wallace or Julian Bond — a contemporary reader might imagine Jeff Sessions and DeRay McKesson. These polarizing times make Baldwin’s words something to sing about, and when Tom asked me to compose a new work for him I couldn’t imagine a finer person, one who had been there in Selma, to sing them. The sections performed here are only a part of the larger project of setting Baldwin’s entire text. Here are only the first paragraph of the first section and the entire final, fourth section. It begins with Baldwin observing American society through the lens, if you will, of a screen, a television screen, and over a trajectory of anecdotes and observations that telescope and microscope what humans do to each other and how it feels, he lands on a note of grace and ends sounding an alarm.
That the alarm is as urgent now is what makes the grace essential: The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
Daniel Rothman’smusical and visual preoccupations wander beyond the concert hall into eccentric spaces and timescales both smaller and larger than life, such as the miniature The Dandelion Clock (with Andrea Loselle, Ted Mook, and Daniel Tiffany), the immense Sense Absence (with Paul Tzanetopoulos and the Quatuor Bozzini), the pedestrian The Garden Party (with Zebra), or the virtual Cézanne’s Doubt (with Elliot Anderson, Jim Campbell, Tom Buckner, Kent Clelland, Ted Mook, David Smeyers, and Wadada Leo Smith). Yes, Philip, Androids Dream Electric Sheep, for a clarinet he modified to control signal processing makes contingent its acoustic life form, with a music incarnated through acoustic feedback tapping the ecology of biofeedback as a clarinet-organism manifests its environment: an aria for the man-machine.