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front (from left to right): Paweł Mykietyn, Kidd Jordan, Tom Johnson; back: Lisa Bielawa, Carla Kihlstedt, Natasha Barrett, Jürg Frey, Gyan Riley

In retrospect, one might think all along OM has been employing a crystal ball to find our composer participants because so many have gone from scant name recognition to fame and increasing influence in the music scene. Before they were more widely known, Trimpin, Julia Wolfe, Mamoru Fujieda, Errollyn Wallen, Tan Dun, Linda Bouchard, Jacob ter Veldhuis, Henry Brant, Mari Kimura, Lukas Ligeti, Amy X Neuburg, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Ellen Fullman, Ge Gan-ru, and Luc Ferrari all were alumni of the Other Minds Festival. On behalf of the 146 composers who have shared our stage, thank you for your ongoing and enthusiastic support.

This year, OM welcomed our first artist to have played with Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, not to mention Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. Edward “Kidd” Jordan recently wrapped up a 32 year teaching career at Southern University in New Orleans where he proselytized for making new jazz hybrids, one of which resulted in the formation of the World Saxophone Quartet. Now in his 75th year and a kid no more, we were thrilled to have him here to play with bassist William Parker (OM 9) and legendary drummer Warren Smith.

Although Chou Wen-chung, 86, wasn’t able to appear in person due to a temporary health setback, we heard his highly charged music on opening night. And in tribute to his life-long  mentor, legendary composer Edgard Varèse, OM presented the American premiere of Dutch filmmaker Frank Scheffer’s new 90-minute feature film The One All Alone at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, San Francisco.

Thanks to the California-based Gerbode and Zellerbach Family Foundations, for supporting two newly-created works that closed the festival. The Gerbode commission, presented by ROVA:Arts, was Carla Kihlstedt’s Pandæmonium, for two readers and saxophone quartet. The composer, a native of Lancaster, PA, home of the techno-rejecto Pennsylvania Dutch, set historical texts lamenting a world forever altered by the Industrial Revolution. The Zellerbach commission, also supported by the American Composers Forum, was Gyan Riley’s When Heron Sings Blue, presented by Other Minds, with an all-star cast of crossover music veterans Timb Harris, Scott Amendola and Michael Manring.

Lisa Bielawa, winner of this year’s Rome Prize for a year-long residency at the American Academy in Rome, was on loan from the Pope for the presentation of her inimitable Kafka Songs. Written for Carla Kihlstedt, the score requires the violin soloist to play and sing simultaneously.

Manipulation of space is a central element in much of British composer/performer Natasha Barrett’s work. She has made an international reputation as an electroacoustic composer with her creative use sound extending into sound art, installations, multimedia and interactive works, and computer music improvisation.

Gyan Riley (b. 1977) is an equally strong presence in the worlds of classical guitar and contemporary music. While studying as the first full-scholarship guitar student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he received a recording contract for his debut CD of original works, Food for the Bearded, released on New Albion Records. He has since expanded his career as a composer/ instrumentalist, receiving commissions from the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the New York Guitar Festival, and the Paul Dresher Ensemble.

The invention and dynamism of Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn’s work is apparent in Epiphora for piano and tape and his haunting String Quartet No. 2, premiered in the U.S. by the Del Sol String Quartet at Symphony Space in NY. More quartet music was played by Quatuor Bozzini of Montréal who specialize in stripped-down, vibrato-less works that are extremely challenging. Their championship of Jürg Frey, the Swiss composer, and Tom Johnson, an American in Paris, will transport us to a supremely “otherly” sound world.

Johnson, an unapologetic minimalist, split dramatically with other composers in that genre who now disavow the term. Johnson’s own music often is radically stripped down, exposing its process in ways that embrace humor while leaving little to the imagination. Pairing his work with Frey’s was an affair to remember. In any case, this music is unlike to be performed elsewhere very soon, so it was an invitation to tune in, drop out, and savor the ride.

Artist Bios

Natasha Barrett (b. 1972, Norwich, England) has made an international reputation as an electroacoustic composer, but her creative uses of sound extend into sound art, installations, multimedia and interactive works, and computer music improvisation. Performed and commissioned throughout the world, Barrett has collaborated with well known ensembles such as the London Sinfonietta, Oslo Sinfonietta, Cikada and Ars Nova, scientists and designers, electronic performance groups and festivals. Her work often incorporates the latest technologies. Whether writing for instrumental performers or electronic media, her compositional aesthetics are derived from acousmatic issues focusing on the aural perception of detail, structure and potential meaning, and an interest in techniques that reveal detail the ear will normally miss. The composition and manipulation of space is a central element in much of this work. As a performer she works with electronics, improvisation and the interpretation of acousmatic works.

Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. The New York Times describes her music as, “ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart,” and Time Out New York praised her “prodigious gift for mingling persuasive melodicism with organic experimentation.” She is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition and is spending September 2009 through August 2010 composing at the American Academy in Rome.

Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University, and became an active participant in New York musical life. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers.

Bielawa’s music has been released on numerous record labels including Tzadik, Albany, and Innova, and will be featured on a new recording to be released in 2010, recorded by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Born in Chefoo, China, on June 29, 1923, Chou Wen-chung is now a citizen of the United States, where he has resided since 1946. Although he arrived with a degree in civil engineering to pursue architectural studies on a scholarship at Yale University, he became a student in composition at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Nicholas Slonimsky. In 1949 Chou met the late Edgard Varèse, became his pupil and friend, and later served as his literary executor.

Chou has received numerous awards, grants, and commissions, including the 1996 University of Cincinnati Award for Excellence, the 1991-92 John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award, the 1985 China Institute Qingyun Award, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, two Guggenheim fellowships, a National Institute of Arts and Letters award, a Koussevitsky Music Foundation commission, a New York State Council on the Arts commission, a National Endowment for the Arts commission, a Louisville Orchestra commission, and a commission from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University. In 1982, Chou was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Jürg Frey was born in 1953 in Aarau, Switzerland. Following his musical education 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. Frey 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 compositions sometimes bypass instrumentation and duration altogether and touch on aspects of sound art. He has worked with compositional series, as well as with language and text. Some of these activities appear in small editions or as artist’s books as individual items and small editions (Edition Howeg, Zurich; weiss kunstbewegung, Berlin; complice, Berlin). His music and recordings are published by Edition Wandelweiser. Frey has been invited to workshops as visiting composer and for composer portraits at the Universität der Künste Berlin, the Universität Dortmund and several times at Northwestern University and CalArts. Some of the other places his work has developed are the concerts at the Kunstraum Düsseldorf, the Wandelweiser-in-Residence-Veranstaltungen in Vienna, the Ny music concerts in Boras (Sweden), the cooperation with Cologne pianist John McAlpine, the Bozzini Quartet (Montréal), QO-2 (Bruxelles), Die Maulwerker, incidental music, as well as the regular stays in Berlin (where during the last years many of his compositions were premiered). Frey is a member of the Wandelweiser Komponisten Ensemble which has presented concerts for more than 15 years in Europe, North America and Japan. Frey also organizes the concert series moments musicaux aarau as a forum for contemporary music.

Tom Johnson, born in Colorado in 1939, received B.A. and M.Mus. degrees from Yale University, and studied composition privately with Morton Feldman. After 15 years in New York, he moved to Paris, where he has lived since 1983. He is considered a minimalist, since he works with simple forms, limited scales, and generally reduced materials, but he proceeds in a more logical way than most minimalists, often using formulas, permutations, and predictable sequences.

Johnson is well known for his operas: The Four Note Opera (1972) continues to be presented in many countries. Riemannoper has been staged more than 20 times in German-speaking countries since its premier in Bremen in 1988. Often played non-operatic works include Bedtime Stories, Rational Melodies, Music and Questions, Counting Duets, Tango, Narayana’s Cows, and Failing, a virtuosic piece for solo string bass.

Saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan was born May 5, 1935, in Crowley, Louisiana. After completing a music degree at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he relocated to New Orleans, where he taught at Southern University beginning in 1974. Jordan also earned the master’s degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and later studied at Northwestern University under Fred Hemke. Jordan has performed and recorded with such legends as Cannonball Adderley, Fred Anderson, Ornette Coleman, Ed Blackwell, Ray Charles, Cecil Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Ed Blackwell, The Temptations, Big Maybelle, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Peter Korvald, William Parker, Alan Silva, Louis Moholo, Sunny Murray, Hamid Drake, and Ellis Marsalis, to name a few. He organized the first World Saxophone Quartet in 1976 that included Julius Hemphill, David Murray, Harniet Bluiett, and Oliver Lake. He also founded the Improvisational Arts Ensemble with Alvin Fielder, Clyde Kerr, Jr., and London Branch, later transforming into the Improvisational Arts Quintet. He has amassed a discography of over 30 recordings and has performed in jazz and music festivals around the world including Germany, Netherlands, Finland, France, and Africa, has been a featured performer with the New Orleans Philharmonic, as well as performed with various “pit bands” in support of shows that come through New Orleans. Jordan has been a regular performer at the Visions Festival in New York, and in 2008 was recognized with their Lifetime Achievement Award. His work has been documented by CBS News 60 Minutes and he was honored with Offbeat magazine’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Music Education. In 1985 the French Ministry of Culture bestowed knighthood on Jordan as a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the French government’s highest artistic award for his work as an educator and performer. Jordan has also been a highly influential educator, counting Branford and Wynton Marsalis among the hundreds of students he taught at Southern University in 36 years of service. His dedication was recently recognized by the university with recognition from The Southern University at New Orleans Foundation.

Carla Kihlstedt (b. 1971) has played the violin for most of her years on this planet. It is the vehicle that has brought her through many approaches to music-making from her beginnings in the classical world, through various music schools — Peabody Institute, Oberlin and San Francisco Conservatories — and on to her present hydra-headed musical life. She is a composer, an improviser, a singer, and a member of several ongoing projects, including 2 Foot Yard, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat, The Book of Knots, and Causing A Tiger, each of which has its own very particular and distinct logic. Kihlstedt has written scores for dance and theater companies (inkBoat, The Joe Goode Performance Group, Flyaway Productions), and on her own label, 12 Cups, has released several such scores written with Matthias Bossi and Dan Rathbun (Ravish and Other Tales for the Stage). She has also recently released several new recordings, with Minamo (Tzadik), debut cds of Cosa Brava, Causing a Tiger, Necessary Monsters, and Lisa Bielawa’s Double Violin Concerto. Composers including Bielawa, Michael Fiday, and Jorge Liderman have composed works especially for Kihlstedt.

Composer and clarinetist Paweł Mykietyn was born May 20, 1971 in Oława, Poland. Mykietyn’s dazzling career began when he was very young and he has enjoyed numerous successes both in Poland and abroad. In 1993, while still a composition student under Włodzimierz Kotoński at the Academy of Music in Warsaw, he debuted at the Warsaw Autumn Festival of Contemporary Music with a piece titled La Strada. His success at that edition of the Warsaw Autumn culminated in a new commission, performed at the 1995 festival. In the same year, Mykietyn’s 3 for 13, commissioned by Polish Radio, won first prize at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in the young composers’ category. In 1996 Mykietyn received a similar award at the 4. International Rostrum of Electro-Acoustic Music in Amsterdam for his Epiphora for piano and tape. Subsequent editions of the Warsaw Autumn brought more premieres, including his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in 1997, Commencement de siècle in 1999, Shakespeare’s Sonnets in 2000, and finally the opera Ignorant i szaleniec / An Ignoramus and a Madman in 2001. His successes continued, and in 2008 he was awarded Poland’s top arts prize, the OPUS award. Mykietyn plays the clarinet in the Nonstrom Ensemble, a quartet he founded which specializes in contemporary music.

Gyan Riley (b. 1977) is an equally strong presence in the worlds of classical guitar and contemporary music. While studying as the first full-scholarship guitar student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he received a recording contract for his debut CD of original works, Food for the Bearded, released in 2002 on New Albion Records. He has since expanded his career as a composer and instrumentalist, receiving commissions from the Carnegie Hall Corporation, the New York Guitar Festival, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center. He has performed throughout 10 European countries and across the U.S., both as a soloist and in ensemble with various artists such as Zakir Hussain, Michael Manring, Dawn Upshaw, the San Francisco Symphony, the Falla Guitar Trio, the World Guitar Ensemble, and his father, the composer/pianist/vocalist Terry Riley. As a teacher, Gyan has served on the faculties at Humboldt State University, Cal State University East Bay, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Highlights of Gyan’s 2009 schedule include a ten-concert tour of Ireland and a performance at Carnegie Hall.

Festival Program

Thursday, March 4, 2010
7:00 pm Panel Discussion, 8:00 pm Concert, Kanbar Hall, JCCSF

Jürg Frey
Streichquartett II (1998-2000)
Quatuor Bozzini

Chou Wen-chung
Twilight Colors (2007)
Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
The Willows Are New (1957)
Eva-Maria Zimmermann, piano

Lisa Bielawa
Kafka Songs (2001-03)
Carla Kihlstedt, voice & violin

Friday, March 5, 2010
7:00 pm Panel Discussion, 8:00 pm Concert, Kanbar Hall, JCCSF

Natasha Barrett
Mobilis in Mobili (2006)
pre-recorded media
Kernel Expansion (2009)
laptop & pre-recorded media

Kidd Jordan
Father, Son and Holy Ghost (2010, world premiere)
A Ballad for Trane (1967)
Kidd Jordan, saxophone, with William Parker, bass; Warren Smith, percussion

Paweł Mykietyn
String Quartet No. 2 (2006)
Del Sol String Quartet
Epiphora for piano and tape (1996)
Eva-Maria Zimmermann, piano

Saturday, March 6, 2010
7:00 pm Panel Discussion, 8:00 pm Concert, Kanbar Hall, JCCSF

Gyan Riley
When Heron Sings Blue (2010)
Gyan Riley Trio: Riley, guitar; Timb Harris, violin/viola; Scott Amendola, percussion; plus special guest Michael Manring, electric bass
World Premiere, commissioned by Other Minds

Tom Johnson 
Combinations (2003)
Quatuor Bozzini
Eggs and Baskets (1987)
Clemens Merkel, violin; Stephanie Bozzini, viola; Johnson, narrator

Carla Kihlstedt 
Pandæmonium (2010)
ROVA Saxophone Quartet; Matthias Bossi & Joan Mankin, readers
World Premiere, commissioned by Rova Arts


Click here to download a PDF copy of the Other Minds Festival 15 Program.

Festival Audio

Full Concert Audio

Photos by John Fago

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