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At Djerassi Residents Artists Program Front row, l to r: Jim Newman, Charles Amirkhanian, Morton Subotnick, Wadada Leo Smith, Åke Parmerud; Back row: Keerril Makan, Michael Bach Bachtischa, Elena Kats-Chernin, Dan Becker

By dint of Other Mind’s unusual format, combining four days in residence for nine composers in the isolated scenic beauty of the famed Djerassi Resident Artists Program preceding the festival performances, provides a welcome opportunity to commune in depth with colleagues and recharge creative juices.

Composer and and reed player Don Byron recalled that his experience at Other Minds 2 in 1995 changed his life. “I was on the cusp, still investing my time mostly as a player. But talking with Terry Riley, Lou Harrison, Tan Dun, Alvin Singleton, Muhal Richard Abrams and others at the ranch and listening to their work while sharing mine, I made a commitment to become more active as a composer. It was the big turning point for me-one of the most important experiences I’ve had as an artist.”

Throughout these years OM has continued to bring San Francisco the most original thinkers in new music, most of whom wouldn’t have appeared here otherwise. And the results of our festival continue to resound elsewhere.

Returning in 2008 was the Del Sol String Quartet whose premiere performance at OM12 with didjeridu player Stephen Kent in Peter Sculthorpe’s String Quartet No. 16 was a tremendous hit. Last October the group made a triumphant appearance at the Library of Congress playing Pacific Rim composers on the Stradivarius collection there, and this work with Mr. Kent was repeated to a standing ovation. The Quartet also garnered  the Chamber Music America/ASCAP First Prize for Adventurous Programming (for the second time in three years). OM was pleased to have them premiere a new work by the distinguished composer Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith on our opening night.

OM was also pleased to bring home Morton Subotnick whose early experiments with the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s led to a stellar career as one of our leading American composers and perhaps the most famous who works with electronic sound, the brilliant pianist Kathy Supové closed our festival with, appropriately, The Other Piano, an epic work by Subotnick for piano and electronics.

Germany’s Dieter Schnebel, whose work traverses an enormous range, was represented at the festival. Anyone who’s heard of his “re-visioning” of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony will be curious to hear his experimental vocal works as well as his music for the brilliant cellist Michael Bach and his curved bow, an invention 15 years in the making and now ready for prime time. Mr. Bach co-composed a work with John Cage which will receive its American premiere, alongside of one of Bach’s own compositions.

Åke Parmerud from Sweden is a much-lauded practitioner of electroacoustic music, having won every imaginable prize for his mind-bending soundscapes based on the manipulation of acoustic environmental sounds. Even Kats-Chernin, born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but living since the age of 9 in Sydney, Australia, made her first San Francisco appearance. She is a prolific and buoyant celebrity Down Under whose keyboard music will be performed by herself and fellow-Australian pianist Lisa Moore of the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Two younger American composers, Dan Becker and Keeril Makan, had Other Minds-commissioned premieres this year. Mr. Becker composed Keeping Time for the Adorno Ensemble and Mr. Makan Resonance Alloy for percussionist David Shively, with instruments of the composer’s own invention.

We welcome you to the unique excitement of Other Minds’ revelationary new music and thank you for your interest and support which makes our event possible.  Charles Amirkhanian, Artistic Director

Artist Bios

Morton Subotnick is one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. Most of his music calls for a computer part, or live electronic processing; his oeuvre utilizes many of the important technological breakthroughs in the history of the genre. The work that brought Subotnick celebrity was Silver Apples of the Moon. Written in 1967 using the Buchla modular synthesizer (an electronic instrument built by Donald Buchla utilizing suggestions from Subotnick and Ramon Sender), this work contains synthesized tone colors striking for its day, careful control over pitch and a rich counterpoint of gestures. The exciting, exotic timbres and dance-inspiring rhythms caught the ear of the public, and made the Nonesuch release a bestseller; the recording has since been re-released on the Wergo CD label.

In the next eight years, Subotnick wrote several more important compositions for LP using the Buchla Synthesizer, including The Wild Bull, Touch, Sidewinder and Four Butterflies. He continued to revolutionize electronic music with real-time setting changes, and the development of a “ghost” box and score to facilitate real-time signal processing of instrumental parts performed live. In the 80s, Subotnick continued his work at IRCAM, using ghost scores in addition to spatial placement of sounds in a quadraphonic field. He also continued to compose for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, theater and multimedia productions, and premiered his “staged tone poem” The Double Life of Amphibians at the 1984 Olympics Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

Trumpet-player, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith was born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi. Smith developed an early interest in the Delta Blues and Improvisation music traditions, and received his formal musical education with his father, the U.S. Military band program (1963), Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76) where he studied ethnomusicology.

In 1967 he became a member of the ASCAP Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and has since become recognized as a leading figure in improvisation and free jazz. With Leroy Jenkins and Anthony Braxton, he co-founded the Creative Construction Company; Smith has also performed and/or recorded with Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Pauline Oliveros, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Derek Bailey, Don Cherry, Henry Brant, Han Bennink, Charlie Haden, and many others. His ensembles have included the New Dalta Ahkri (Henry Threadgill, Anthony Davis, Oliver Lake), the Golden Quartet (Jack DeJohnette, Anthony Davis, Malachi Favors), N’da-Kulture, the Silver Orchestra, and others.

Smith has studied a variety of music cultures and plays several instruments, including the koto, kalimba, and atenteben (Ghanaian bamboo flute). He has consolidated his wide-ranging study into a personal music theory, articulated in notes (8 Pieces) source a new world music: creative music, published by Kiom Press ( 1973) and subsequently translated into Japanese and Italian. His theoretical work has played a significant role in his musical development, as an artist and educator, and is also manifest in his own notation system for creative musicians, called “Ankhrasmation.”

Sweden’s Åke Parmerud, born in 1953, has been professionally active as a composer since his early twenties. He studied at the Gothenburg Music Conservatory, after having worked as a professional photographer from 1972 to 1974. His list of works includes instrumental music as well as electro-acoustic compositions, multimedia, video and music for theater and film. It is his electro-acoustic music, however, that has gained international interest as well as numerous festival prizes, including awards at the Bourges Festival (12 total, first in 1978), Prix Ars Electronica (1990, 1994), Prix Noroit (1991), Metamorphosis Festival (Belgium), and the Stockholm Electronic Arts Award (1993). He has released 2 CDs and 3 LPs, one of which earned a Grammy award for the best classical CD in Sweden (Invisible Music, 1995). In 1997, his piece Grains of Voices was performed in the New York headquarters during the United Nations Day; the same piece was nominated in 2006 for the Nordic Music Award.

Parmerud has composed a number of works commissioned by international institutions in Holland, France, Germany, Norway and Denmark, and also works as a stage performer, doing live electroacoustic music with different kinds of interactive instruments. Other projects include artistic direction for large audiovisual events, concert design, and sound and software designer for innovative interactive audio/visual installations, including his own interactive installations. Parmerud has also recently started a dance/media company called “The Seventh Sense” together with Canadian/Swedish choreographer Mireille Leblanc, creating interactive sound/video performances (see www.youtube.com/akeparmerud). He is a member of The Royal Academy of Music since 1998, and teaches computer music and composition at the Lindbladstudio of Gothenburg University.

Working to create emotionally engaging musical experiences, American composer Keeril Makan combines an exploration of the rich detail inherent in sound with an unmistakably visceral energy. Drawing from diverse sources such as American folk music, the European avant-garde, Indian classical music, and minimalism, he synthesizes a music that, in its sheer intensity, thwarts
 assumptions of what is beautiful.

Makan grew up in New Jersey, of a mixed Indian and Russian Jewish heritage. After initial musical studies in violin and oboe, he received degrees in composition and religion at Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio. He completed his Ph.D. in composition at the University of California, Berkeley where he studied composition with Edmund Campion and Jorge Liderman, and computer music at the Center for New Music and Audio Technology (CNMAT) with David Wessel. Outside of the U.S., Makan spent a year in Helsinki, Finland at the Sibelius Academy on a Fulbright grant. Having been awarded the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, he also lived for two years in Paris, France, where he studied with Philippe Leroux. Makan was previously on the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of Music at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also Managing Editor of Computer Music Journal, published by MIT Press.

Elena Kats-Chernin was born in 1957 in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent. In 1975, she and her family emigrated from the Soviet Union to Australia. She studied composition with Richard Toop, graduating in 1980, and then studied with Helmut Lachenmann in Hanover, Germany, with the assistance of a DAAD Fellowship. While in Europe Kats-Chernin became active in theatre and ballet, composing for state theaters in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg, and Bochum, specifically working with renowned choreographer Reinhild Hoffmann. Her music attracted the attention of the Ensemble Modern and in 1993 she wrote her breakthrough work Clocks for them. Kats-Chernin remained in Germany for 13 years.

Since her return to Australia in 1994, Kats-Chernin has written three chamber operas (Iphis, Matricide and Undertow), two piano concertos, soundtracks for three silent films, and works for many performers and ensembles around the world. She has composed music for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, and the 2003 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony. Kats-Chernin has earned numerous awards included the Jean Bogan Memorial Prize for Charleston Noir (solo piano), Sounds Australian Award for Cadences, Deviations, and Scarlatti (for 14 instruments), the Green Room Award and the Helpmann Award for her score to the ballet Wild Swans, based on the fairy-tale by Hans Christian Andersen and broadcast on ABC-TV in December 2003. In 2004 she was awarded a two-year Fellowship from the Australia Council to work with Meryl Tankard on a new dance/opera project based on the life and work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Born in 1960, Dan Becker is a San Francisco-based composer whose wide-ranging achievements both exemplify and reflect a life dedicated to new music in America. Becker’s artistic work has been described as “post-minimalist” due to the strong influence of works by Terry Riley, with whom he studied, and other minimalists of the early 1960s including La Monte Young, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. Becker is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Common Sense Composers’ Collective, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Music Center, and a professor of composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Becker received his DMA in Composition from Yale University, where he also earned his MM and MMA degrees. His teachers have included Terry Riley, Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick, Elinor Armer, Poul Ruders, and Louis Andriessen. Awards and grants include those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001), Meet the Composer (2002/2008), American Music Center (2006), Live Music for Dance (2006), the America Composers Forum (2004), and the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust (2003). His music has been performed at universities and festivals large and small, across the United States, including the Norfolk Summer Festival, Chicago Arts Series, Park City String Quartet Festival, Bates College American Music Festival, and many others.

Cellist, composer, and visual artist Michael Bach, also known as Michael Bach Bachtischa, was born in Worms, Germany, April 17, 1958. He studied cello with Pierre Fournier and Janos Starker, then embarked on a career of international concert activity as well as performances on radio, recordings, and television. He made numerous significant contributions to the art of contemporary cello performance; his publication Fingerboards & Overtones proposes new ideas concerning overtones and harmonics and is considered a pioneering work in the literature on contemporary technique. In 1990 he developed the Curved Bow (BACH.Bogen) for the cello, violin, and viola, which, in polyphonic playing, permits the simultaneous sounding of multiple strings, with the high arch of the bow allowing for full, sustained chords. Rostropovich has been intimately involved in its development, and several contemporary composers, among them Cage, Schnebel, and Walter Zimmermann, have composed works especially for it. Bach is also a composer, often in collaboration with the visual artist Renate Hoffleit, with whom he has created strikingly original string and sound installations. His purely musical compositions are idiosyncratic and highly personal, described by him as “free from compositional conventions.”  His visual works include Fingerboards I, II (both 1990), and II-VII (1994-98), which capture the hand’s choreography on the cello fingerboard as color impressions, Fieldwork (1994), Mit diesen beiden Händen (1994), Lagauche (1995), and Olévano (1995). (Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire, Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Centennial Edition 2001).

The composer, theologian, teacher, and musicologist Dieter Schnebel (1930-2018) was born in Lahr/Baden, Germany. He studied music in Freiburg, then theology, philosophy, and musicology in Tübingen, graduating with a doctoral thesis on “Dynamics in Schönberg.” Schnebel’s formative experiences as a young composer came at the Kranichsteiner (today Darmstädter) Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, where he met Adorno, Boulez, Messiaen, Nono, Stockhausen, and Varèse.

Following his student years, Schnebel worked as a pastor and teacher in Kaiserslautern, Frankfurt a. M., and Munich. In 1976, a professorship in experimental music was established especially for Schnebel at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin (today Berlin University of the Arts), a post he held until retirement in 1995. Schnebel is among the most innovative and influential avant-garde composers of the second half of the 20th century. Even in compositions from the early 1950s, he had already unleashed open sound processes between tone and noise, and strove to use space in new ways. He composed many influential conceptual pieces from the 1960s to 1980s, and his sound and language compositions from the 1950s to 1980s pioneered a new treatment of vocal articulation and mute physical gesture as music theater. In other works he draws on historical forms to rediscover, reveal, expose, re-compose and further extend musical tools both traditional and new. Schnebel’s large-scale late works from the 1990s and the early 21st century bear witness to his continuing effort to set out all-embracing testaments to his musical language and music-theological world view.

Festival Program

Thursday, March 6, 2008
7:00 pm Panel Discussion, 8:00 pm Concert, Kanbar Hall, JCCSF

Dieter Schnebel
Mit Diesen Händen (excerpts – 1992)
Michael Bach, voice and cello with BACH.bow

Åke Parmerud
La Vie Mécanique (2004)
pre-recorded media

Elena Kats-Chernin

Purple Prelude (1996)
Taste-En (1991)
Lisa Moore, piano

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith
Taif: Prayer in the Garden of The Hijaz (2007)
Smith, trumpet; Anthony Brown, percussion; Del Sol String Quartet
World Premiere, commissioned by Other Minds

Friday, March 7, 2008
7:00 pm Panel Discussion, 8:00 pm Concert, Kanbar Hall, JCCSF

Åke Parmerud
Dreaming in Darkness (2005)
pre-recorded media

Michael Bach Bachtischa
18-7-92 (1992)
Michael Bach, cello with BACH.bow & pre-recorded media
U.S. premiere

John Cage & Michael Bach Bachtischa

One13 (1992)
Michael Bach, cello with BACH.bow & pre-recorded media
U.S. premiere

Dieter Schnebel
Quintessenz (1993)
Poem für 4 Köpfe from Zeichen-Sprache (1987–89)
Other Minds Ensemble

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith
Moths, Flames, and the Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees (1996)
Adorno Ensemble

Dan Becker
Keeping Time (2008)
Adorno Ensemble
World Premiere, commissioned by Other Minds

Saturday, March 8, 2008
7:00 pm Panel Discussion, 8:00 pm Concert, Kanbar Hall, JCCSF

Keeril Makan
Resonance Alloy (2007)
David Shively, percussion
World Premiere, commissioned by Other Minds
Static Rising (2004)
David Shively, percussion; Del Sol String Quartet

Elena Kats-Chernin 

Russian Rag (1996/2007)
Fast Blue Village (2007)
Kats-Chernin, piano; Del Sol String Quartet
Eliza Aria (2002)
Kats-Chernin, piano

Dan Becker
Revolution (2004)
Kathleen Supové, prepared disklavier with pre-recorded media

Morton Subotnick
The Other Piano (2007)
Kathleen Supové, piano; Subotnick, live electronics


Click here to download a PDF copy of the Other Minds 13 Program

Festival Audio

Full Concert Audio

Photos by John Fago

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