Skip links

Flux Quartet performing at OM21
The Flux Quartet at the SF Jazz Center. Photo by Michael Melnyk.

So many long-term plans came together for this year’s Other Minds Festival that we were filled with even more anticipation than usual. Our list of guest composers and performers brimmed with talent, and it’s our good fortune to have presented them all at once at OM 21. At our collaborating organization, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA, they spent time introducing their music to one another and enjoying great meals and hikes in the remote, scenic Santa Cruz Mountains. The retreat, a gift to composers from Other Minds, has been a unique part of our festival since its inception. The time for meeting, sharing and reflection afforded these busy creative artists a format that is unique in the field of new music, making an invitation to the Other Minds Festival a coveted opportunity.

Arguably the most important British post-minimalist composer, Gavin Bryars, mixes classical, jazz, and modern influences in his intellectually engaging (yet still emotionally touching) music. Though his style has changed somewhat since his first major piece, 1969’s The Sinking of the Titanic, Bryars has remained a provocative yet accessible composer capable of working in a variety of settings. Born in the Yorkshire village of Goole, England, in 1943, Bryars’ first musical love was jazz. As a student at the University of Sheffield, Bryars played bass in the nonsensically named improvisatory jazz trio, Joseph Holbrooke. He has composed prolifically for the theater and dance as well as for the concert hall, film scores, and four full-length operas. His first major work as a composer was The Sinking of the Titanic (1969) originally released on Brian Eno’s Obscure label (1975) and Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1971), both selling over a quarter of a million copies. In Bryar’s words, “Like many Englishmen I had sung madrigals for pleasure – usually late at night with friends, after several glasses of wine. While these madrigals have their charm, I found through embarking on an extended exploration of the madrigal as a creative venture that the richest source lays in the Italian Renaissance.” The Second Book of Madrigals is for six voices, settings of Francesco Petrarch in the original 14th century Italian. In his sonnets, Bryars rediscovered the richness of Petrarch’s invention, and also pays homage to the harmonically audacious madrigals of the Renaissance composer (and infamous murderer), Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa.

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films, and installations. A pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance,” Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound, in an effort to discover and weave together new modes of perception. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words. Over the last fifty years, she has been hailed as “a magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers.” Celebrated internationally, Monk’s work has been presented by BAM, Lincoln Center Festival, Houston Grand Opera, London’s Barbican Centre, and at major venues in countries from Brazil to Syria. She was recently named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France, and the 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America. Monk is also one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices, has received a 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award, 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts, and received a 2014 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, “for her contributions as a composer, singer, and performer.”

Michael Gordon merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power in his music, embodying, in the words of The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, “the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism.” Over the past 25 years Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles and major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Defying categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness. The Ensemble Modern, the Dublin Guitar Quartet, and the New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, have all presented world premieres of Gordon’s works.

Norwegian artists were well represented at OM 21 with composers Cecilie Ore, Lasse Thoresen, and the vocal ensemble, Nordic Voices. Ore’s Dead Pope on Trial (2015) commissioned by Nordic Voices and Other Minds received its World premiere. Thoresen’s unique blend of folk inflected music and non-equal tempered tunings was presented in his Solbøn (2012) and Himmelske Fader (2012) which garnered him the Nordic Music Prize.

In a true embarrassment of riches, the festival was rounded out by works of US composers Phil Kline, Oliver Lake, and Larry Polansky, and Canadians Nicole Lizée and John Oswald.

Festival Program

CONCERT 1

March 4, 2016
SF Jazz Center, San Francisco

Lasse Thoresen
Solbøn (2012)
Himmelske Fader (2012)

Cecilie Ore
Dead Pope on Trial! (2015)
World premiere, commissioned by Nordic Voices and Other Minds with generous support from Tekstforfatterfondet Det Norske Komponistfond and Music Norway

Gavin Bryars
Book of Madrigals (2002/2015)
Book Two, no. 8: I’vidi in terra
Book Two, no. 4: Poi che voi
Book Two, no. 10: Una candida serve
Book Two, no. 14: Morte à spent
Book Four, no. 3: Chi è formato di menar sua vita*
*World premiere – dedicated to Benjamin Vresh Amirkhanian for his 100th Birthday

Nordic Voices:
Tone Elisabeth Braaten and Ingrid Hanken, sopranos; Ebbe Rydh, mezzo-soprano; Per Kristian Amundrød, tenor; Frank Havrøy, baritone/tenor; Told Magne Asser, bass

Phil Kline
Last Words (2015)
World premiere

Michael Gordon
The Sad Park (2006)
Flux Quartet: Tom Chiu and Conrad Harris, violins; Max Mandel, viola; Felix Fan, cello

Lasse Thoresen, Cecilie Ore, and Nordic Voices appeared with generous support from Norway House Foundation, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. Gavin Bryars appears with generous support from Anthony B. Creamer III.

 

CONCERT 2

Saturday, March 5, 2016
SF Jazz Center, San Francisco

Michael Gordon
Light is Calling (2004)
Kate Stenberg, violin; Bill Morrison, video

Nicole Lizée
The David Lynch Études (2015)

John Oswald
Homonymy (1998/2015)
John Oswald

Palimpia (2016)
Eve Egoyan, disklavier and piano
Eve Egoyan appears with generous support from Norman Bookstein and Gillian Kuehner

John Oswald
invaria (1999)

Larry Polansky
ii-v-i (1997)
Larry Polansky and Giacomo Fiore, electric guitar

Larry Polansky
Songs from Songs and ‘Toods (2007)
Elliot Simpson, guitar and voice

Larry Polansky
34 Chords (Christian Wolff in Hanover and Royalton) (1995)
Larry Polansky, electric guitar

Oliver Lake
Stick (2013/2015)
Oliver Lake, soprano and alto saxophone
Oliver Lake appears with generous support from Harry Bernstein and Caren Meghreblian

 

CONCERT 3

Sunday, March 5, 2016
SF Jazz Center, San Francisco

Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble

The Soul’s Messenger
Meredith Monk, voice and keyboard; Katie Geissinger, voice; Allison Sniffin, voice and keyboard; Bohdan Hilash, woodwinds

I. Music for Unaccompanied Voice
Composed and performed by Meredith Monk
Selections from Juice (1969), Songs from the Hill (1977), and Light Songs (1988)

II. Music for Voice and Piano
Composed and performed by Meredith Monk
Gotham Lullaby (1975)
Travelling (1973)
Madwoman’s Vision (1988)

III. Music for Voice, Keyboard and Woodwinds
Composed by Meredith Monk
Choosing Companions, from ATLAS: an opera in three parts (1991)
Meredith Monk, Katie Geissinger, and Allison Sniffin

Hips Dance, from Volcano Songs: Duets (1993)
Meredith Monk and Katie Geissinger

Hocket, from Facing North (1990)
Meredith Monk and Katie Geissinger

Prayer I, from The Politics of Quiet (1996)
Allison Sniffin

Scared Song (1986)
Meredith Monk and Allison Sniffin
epilogue and woman at the door, from mercy (2001)

Katie Geissinger, Meredith Monk, Allison Sniffin, and Bohdan Hilash

clusters 3, from Songs of Ascension (2008)
Bohdan Hilash

Panda Chant I and Memory Song, from The Games (1984)
masks, from mercy (2001)

between song, from impermanence (2004/2006)
Katie Geissinger, Bohdan Hilash, Meredith Monk, and Allison Sniffin

OM22 Booklet Cover

Click here to download a PDF copy of the Other Minds Festival 22 program.

Concert Media: Video

Meredith Monk
Panda Chant and The Memory Song

Recorded live at the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco on Sunday, March 5, 2016, during Other Minds Festival 21. Two pieces: Panda Chant I and Memory Song, from The Games (1984). Meredith Monk, voice and keyboard; Katie Geissinger, voice; Allison Sniffin, voice and keyboard; Bohdan Hilash, woodwinds.

Michael Gordon
The Sad Park

The Flux Quartet plays Michael Gordon’s piece, The Sad Park, at Other Minds Festival 21. Recorded live at the SF Jazz Center on Friday, March 4, 2016. The Flux Quartet is: Tom Chiu and Conrad Harris, violins; Max Mandel, viola; Felix Fan, cello.

Concert Media: Audio

Homonymy
John Oswald

Recorded live at the SF Jazz Center on March 5, 2016, during Other Minds Festival 21. Performed by John Oswald.

ii – v – i
Larry Polansky

Larry Polansky and Giacomo Fiore, electric guitars. Recorded live at the SF Jazz Center on March 5, 2016, during Other Minds Festival 21.

Book of Madrigals, Book 4, No. 3:
“Chi è formato di menar sua vita”
Gavin Bryars

Recorded live at the SF Jazz Center on March 4, 2016, during Other Minds Festival 21. Performed by Nordic Voices: Tone Elisabeth Braaten and Ingrid Hanken, sopranos; Ebbe Rydh, mezzo-soprano; Per Kristian Amundrød, tenor; Frank Havrøy, baritone/tenor; Told Magne Asser, bass.

Full Concert Audio

Photos – Opening Party

Photos by Michael Melnyk

Photos – Concert 1

Photos by Michael Melnyk

Photos – Concert 2

Photos by Michael Melnyk

Photos – Concert 3

Photos by Michael Melnyk

Start typing and press Enter to search