Here you’ll find a list of Other Minds press releases in reverse chronological order detailing OM Records, concerts, select Music from Other Minds programs, and other noteworthy OM news. If you have any questions, would like more information about a release, or would like to be considered for our press list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent Press Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—San Francisco, CA—February 11, 2021—Other Minds is excited to announce the world premiere recording of New York based composer ROBERT HONSTEIN’s work Middle Ground performed by the San Francisco-based violinist KATE STENBERG.
The violin’s airy tones complement its full-bodied resonances, as if they might be a perfect blend in some alternate universe—or perhaps they already are. Composer Robert Honstein explores this very contrast, and its potential commonality, on Middle Ground, which funnels his unembellished compositional style into a search for the middle ground between far-reaching pitches and tonalities. The work, performed by violinist Kate Stenberg, is subdued and poignant, imbuing powerful sentiment into each bold, unadorned melody and subtle electronic manipulation.
Cast in three movements – Too Far, Too close, and Bridging the Gap – Middle Ground searches for a common space between opposites. The first movement, Too Far, emerges quietly from the highest range of the violin. Barely audible, fingers at the instrument’s edge, the music hovers in a cloud of ethereal tones before slowly descending. In an abrupt shift, the second movement, Too Close, lives in the violin’s lowest range. Distorted, rhythmic bursts hammer away at chopped up scales and jagged arpeggios. Eventually waves of sound surge upwards, only to plummet back down, pulled by a relentless, unyielding gravity. The final movement, Bridging the Gap, seems almost without hope. Exhausted by the previous movement’s struggle, the music searches for a new path forward. Two lines, one descending and the other ascending, gradually, methodically move towards each other, steadily intensifying as they approach “middle ground.”
Middle Ground will be avilable as a DIGITAL ONLY release on the Other Minds Bandcamp and will feature liner notes by Vanessa Ague. Middle Ground was commissioned by Kat Kroll, Barbara Sapienza, and Nancy Karp + Dancers and premiered February 10, 2016 by Kate Stenberg at the ODC Theater, San Francisco, CA.
About Robert Honstein
Celebrated for his “smart, appealing works” (The New Yorker), Robert Honstein is a composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. His works have been performed throughout the world by ensembles such as the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Third Angle New Music, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Mivos quartet, the Del Sol Quartet, Present Music, New Morse Code and Hub New Music, among others. He has received an Aaron Copland Award, multiple ASCAP awards and honors from the Barlow Foundation, Carnegie Hall, and New Music USA. He has also received residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Copland House, the Bang on a Can Summer Institute, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Robert is a founding member of the New York based composer collective Sleeping Giant. His debut album ‘RE: You’ was released by New Focus Recordings in 2014 and his second album, a collaboration with the Sebastians was released in 2015. In 2016 Cedille records released Sleeping Giant’s collaboration with Eighth Blackbird, ‘Hand Eye’, to critical acclaim. His most recent Album, An Economy of Means, was released on New Focus Recordings in 2018. Upcoming commissions include a percussion concerto for Colin Currie and the Albany Symphony and new works for No Exit New Music Ensemble and percussionist Mike Compitello. Currently he serves as composition faculty and program manager at NYU Steinhardt.
About Kate Stenberg
Kate Stenberg’s violin playing has been described as “highly virtuosic and deeply communicative…full of character and presence” (NewMusicBox), as heard in performances in a dozen countries and on numerous CDs from New World Records, Sono Luminous, Newport Classics, Other Minds and New Albion labels. She is a leading interpreter of contemporary chamber music having premiered over a hundred works, including pieces incorporating multi-media and improvisation. As a “Bay Area new-music luminary” (San Francisco Chronicle) Stenberg has commissioned, recorded and premiered new works by Peter Sculthorpe, Chinary Ung, Ronald Bruce Smith, Tania Leon, Charles Amirkhanian, Per Nørgård, Kui Dong and many others.
Kate Stenberg developed and produced new chamber music as co-founder of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble and Real Vocal String Quartet and from 1995-2015 she served as the first violinist of the award winning Del Sol String Quartet where she fostered the string quartet repertoire through collaboration and the commissioning of established and emerging composers. Del Sol Quartet was two time top winner of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming.
Currently, Stenberg performs regularly with “sterling pianist” Sarah Cahill. Newly formed in 2016, the Stenberg|Cahill Duo is dedicated to promoting the American experimental tradition and expanding it through the commissioning of new work. Recent appearances include performances at the San Francisco Performances PIVOT Series and the Berkeley Museum of Art and Pacific Film Archive.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—San Francisco, CA—January 29, 2020—Other Minds is happy to welcome Henry Birdsey, a composer operating in the vanguard of “new downtown” experimentalism, to the Other Minds Records roster.
Birdsey (b. February 22, 1995) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and audio engineer based in New Haven, CT, working primarily with the pedal steel, lap steel, microtonal organ, violin, and homemade instruments. Educated by microtonal theorist and composer Kyle Gann (Hyperchromatica OM 1025-2), among others, Birdsey has emerged as a prominent voice in the avant-garde music scene over the last several years. Touring extensively in the United States and abroad as a solo act and as half of Tongue Depressor with Zach Rowden, Birdsey has developed a musical language that harnesses the sensuous language of just intonation tunings, musical drones, and inventive recording and amplification techniques.
With his bowed lap steel guitar tuned to a system of his own design, prepared with various metal objects to accentuate harmonics across the strings, Half Dragged conjures a spectral glow around the fundamentals of the instrument. Birdsey’s recording process involves placing amplifiers and microphones throughout a space, in different rooms with unique acoustic properties, to create a complex field of phasing, standing waves, and oscillating sound layers. The material on the album was developed while on tour on the West Coast in early 2020 and recorded in his hometown of Ripton, Vermont.
Half-Dragged opens with a hollow metal drone of uncertain origin, accented by strong buzzing down bows across the steel wound strings. Over the course of the first two movements, Birdsey flirts with the tonal possibilities of the lap steel, expanding and contracting the interval sizes by bowing only choice strings and open harmonics. By the third movement, the work becomes much less restrained allowing the listener to appreciate the dark complexity of the tuning and amplification of the work. Half-Dragged ends approximately where it started, but this time with a much more zealous recapitulation of the opening drone.
Half-Dragged is available today, January 29, 2021 on Other Minds Records as a digital album and as a limited-edition cassette tape available exclusively on the Other Minds Bandcamp. The cassette and digital editions feature extensive liner notes by Jakob Battick and Liam Herb, as well as artwork by Kevin Gan Yuen.
Half-Dragged will be available digitally from all major digital music platforms and from the Other Minds Records Bandcamp page.
San Francisco, CA – January 15, 2021 – Other Minds is excited to announce a never-before-heard selection of early works by German composer/improviser/instrument builder Werner Durand. With this new release, entitled To Be Continued: Early Recordings 1978-80, a more vibrant portrait of the life and work of Durand is made apparent. The recordings featured on To Be Continued were recently unearthed for the first time in decades from the personal collection of Other Minds’ Executive Director, Charles Amirkhanian.
Werner Durand has been active since the 1980’s both as a solo performer, and in collaborations with Amelia Cuni, Arnold Dreyblatt, and Sam Ashley, among others. To Be Continued comprises three long form pieces that are important documents of the development of the audio processing techniques for which Durand is now known.
To Be Continued is presented in chronological order, tracing Durand’s move from his home in Karlsruhe, Germany to his influential trip to India and subsequent move to Berlin, including the only recording existent of the artist playing the bansuri flute. The influence of his studies in India are apparent, as is the influence of his teacher Ariel Kalma. The music is hypnotic and subdued, the sound of a trailblazing artist taking his first steps into the brush.
On the trilogy “Triptychon,” subtitled “Three Afternoon Songs,” Durand, along with collaborator Tom Dietz, weave together fragmented organ and synthesizer arpeggios into a dense field of kaleidoscopic sound. “The Road to Trichy” finds Durand in a more contemplative mode, skirting around the edges of New Age, a harder-edged Joanna Brouk or something akin to Alice Coltrane. The album closes with the short piece for soprano saxophone titled “BerlIndia.” As indicated by the elision of the title, there is a clear influence of Indian classical music here. Repeated raga figures over a central drone dominate the sound field.
To Be Continued: Early Recordings from 1978-1980 will be released TODAY, January 15, 2021 by Other Minds Records. It is a digital-only release, available from all major digital music platforms and from the Other Minds Bandcamp page.
San Francisco, CA – December 18, 2020 – Two brand new remote recording works by California-based composer Brian Baumbusch will be highlighted on a new release by Other Minds.
Commissioned by the University of California Santa Cruz Wind Ensemble, Isotropes was written in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and consists of a sequence of varied musical fragments chosen and recorded by each participating musician from their respective homes during quarantine. Together, these fragmented recordings combine to create an ambitious 25-minute work for large ensemble. Also featured on the album is Tides, a piece commissioned by the Creative Work Fund in collaboration with video artist Ian Winters, and recorded remotely in lockdown following the cancellation of its March live premiere.
Originally scheduled to be premiered at the end of March 2020, Tides is a chamber work performed by the for quintet of harp, piano, vibraphone, violin, and clarinet that reflects on the 21st century crisis of rising global sea levels, and the Bay Area regions that are projected to be affected by this over the coming century. Ian Winters captured video footage while walking a pilgrimage around the Bay and will use this footage together with 3D body-scans of the musicians performing their parts in the virtual production of the piece. Due to the complexity of the multiple simultaneous tempo changes, coined by Baumbusch as “polytempo,” metronome click tracks were incorporated into the work to ensure performance accuracy. When the pandemic hit and concerts were cancelled, Baumbusch decided to shift the concept of the piece to a remote recording production.
Based on an interest in the remote recording techniques that Baumbusch used in Tides, UC Santa Cruz Wind Ensemble Director Nat Berman commissioned Baumbusch to create an entirely new remote-recording piece for his wind ensemble that would explore Baumbusch’s technique of composing with polytempo. After a library of musical fragments of varying pitch ranges, tempos, and rhythmic notations was created and made available online, each musician independently selected, recorded, and submitted fragments of their own choosing en route to compiling all of the fragments in the piece. Each musician recorded the fragments in their own homes using whatever equipment they had readily available, such as phones or laptops, and a downloadable click track provided by the composer.
Baumbusch comments, “Isotropes has evolved into a unique composition for the time that we currently live in—rather than as a means of getting around the limitations of technology—to deliver an approximation of live performance. Not only are composers questioning how we can create art in a meaningful way while concert halls remain shut, but also how these works can endure and remain a part of our evolving musical tapestry. Composers throughout history have created great works of art during times of great struggle and I believe that we must all approach our efforts in the same way during these uncertain times, adopting new performance practices, rather than adapting or compromising existing ones.”
About Brian Baumbusch
Brian Baumbusch is a composer based in Alameda, California, whose “harmonically vivid… intense… simmering” (The New York Times) compositions push the boundaries of new music. He has spearheaded projects of both western and non-western music, which are considered a “cultural treat” (Maryland Gazette). His 2015 composition, Hydrogen(2)Oxygen for the JACK Quartet and Lightbulb Ensemble is described by the Washington Post as being “exuberantly complex, maddeningly beautiful, and as intoxicating as a drug,” and will be released on New World Records in the fall of 2021. He has headlined performances at the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, The Clarice Smith Center of Maryland, Kresge Hall at MIT, Cambridge, and The Yerba Buena Center of San Francisco, among others. He has collaborated with musicians such as The JACK Quartet, I Made Subandi, Pauline Oliveros, David Behrman, Paul Dresher, Evan Ziporyn, and Larry Polansky.
December 4, 2020— San Francisco—In 1982, Bill Fontana mounted a monumental outdoor sound installation called Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns that would near-impossible to realize today.
Live audio feeds from eight foghorns around the San Francisco Bay were routed to a central listening arena on the city’s waterfront at Fort Mason. As a pioneer in the developing field of Sound Art, Fontana’s fusion of sound and sculpture was virtually unheard of, much less on the region-encompassing scale that he was working with for Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns. A document of the installation was released as an LP by San Francisco radio station KQED, and has become a sought-after collectors’ item.
Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns is not only foundational in the history of Sound Art, but is a major work within Fontana’s oeuvre, particularly his group of works he calls “Sound Sculptures for Architectural Spaces.” Similarly, he has gone on to make audio maps of trains in the East Bay, Berlin, and Lyon, the city of Venice, the London Millennium Bridge, and beyond. Fontana’s unique geographic folding technique reveals acoustic details inaccessible to the naked ear and thus provides a perspective of place that few artists or even art forms are capable of.
Nearly 40 years after its initial release, Other Minds is issuing an expanded edition of Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns on CD for the first time. Along with the original audio, this edition will include Fontana’s re-worked 2018 version as well as a concert version of the piece featuring Stuart Dempster (Deep Listening Band, Merce Cunningham Dance Company). Further, the CD includes a 24-page full color booklet containing Bill Fontana’s original liner notes, a new essay by Jennifer Lucy Allan (Wire, Arc Light Editions) and a recent conversation between Bill Fontana, Stuart Dempster, and Charles Amirkhanian.
1. Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns (Installation Version, 1981) 19:36
2. Bill Fontana, Stuart Dempster – Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns
(Concert Version 1981) 19:53
3. Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns (Installation Version, 2018) 38:30
November 24, 2020— San Francisco—Other Minds is happy to celebrate the 85th birthdays of composer Charles Shere (August 20th) and violinist David Abel (November 24th) with a new digital download release—the world premiere performance of Charles Shere’s Trio for violin, piano and percussion, performed by the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio. Commissioned by Other Minds for the OM Festival 3 in 1996, the recording was thought to be lost until very recently.
Trio was composed one summer on an island off the southern coast of France. The scene from his window where he worked is the subject of two evocative cover drawings by Shere from his sketchbook.
Trio is an outlier in Shere’s body of work. The music is gestural and dreamlike, tangential to the work of Shere’s close friend Lou Harrison or even Claude Debussy—a cool evening breeze through a window. The work is something of an overview of Shere’s aesthetic ancestors, even opening with an unmistakable quote from the music of another personal friend, Virgil Thomson.
Charles Shere has been a stalwart of the Bay Area new music scene since the early 1960s as composer, performer, critic, and producer of radio and television concerts. Born in Berkeley, California, on August 20, 1935, he served as Music Director of KPFA Radio (1964-67), arts producer at KQED TV (1967-72), and Music Critic of the Oakland Tribune (1972-87).
Trio for Violin, Piano and Percussion is available TODAY, November 24, 2020 as a digital-only album available through all major digital music outlets and the Other Minds Bandcamp page.
San Francisco–November 5, 2020–Composer Jim Nollman has spent a lifetime performing live with super-human improvisers—musicians that never stepped foot inside of Juilliard.
Other Minds is excited to announce the 14th edition of the Nature of Music concert series which will take place Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 5pm PST as a livestream on the Other Minds website, Facebook, Twitch, and Youtube. The event will feature Other Minds Executive Director Charles Amirkhanian in conversation with our featured composer Jim Nollman, who has dedicated his life to the science of “interspecies” communication and music.
The virtual interview will feature selected recordings of live performances with Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphins, and Turkeys as well as never-before-heard electroacoustic and contra dance music by Nollman. Amirkhanian and Nollman will also discuss the composer’s role in the U.S. Navy’s efforts to combat whale deaths through sonar, his work as an activist against dry fisheries in Japan, and the intersection of technology and intuition involved in collaborating musically with animals.
The event will be free of charge and archived at otherminds.org.
Jim Nollman is available for interview or comment. Please email email@example.com to make arrangements. More information about interspecies music and Nollman available at http://www.interspecies.com/.
About Jim Nollman
Jim Nollman (born January 1947 in Boston) is a composer of music for theater, a conceptual artist, and an environmental activist. He graduated from Tufts University in 1969. In 1973, he composed a Thanksgiving Day radio piece and recorded himself singing children’s songs with three hundred turkeys and has recorded interspecies music with various other animals. He released several albums on Folkways Records, including Playing Music with Animals: Interspecies Communication of Jim Nollman with 300 Turkeys, 12 Wolves and 20 Orcas. Nollman directed one of Greenpeace’s first overseas projects, at Iki Island, Japan, where fishermen were slaughtering dolphins to compensate for human overfishing. In 1978, Nollman founded Interspecies, which sponsors artists’ efforts to communicate with animals through music and art. Its best-known project is a twenty-five-year study using live music to interact with wild orcas off the west coast of Canada.
July 14, 2020 – San Francisco – The Network Music Festival (London, UK), in collaboration with Other Minds, will present 50 performances across 10 concerts with experimental musicians from 25 countries, Wednesday July 15th through Saturday July 18th. Moving beyond the concept of playing instruments together in Zoom ensembles, NMF will explore a rich variety of strategies, including networked physical devices, AI bots, VR environments, live coding, laptop ensembles, mobile apps and more.
Be sure to tune in on Friday at 19:00-22:00 UK time (11am-2pm West Coast/2pm-5pm East Coast) to see Other Minds’ Charles Amirkhanian as host of this prime time concert. The program will include Bay Area composer Stephen Ruppenthal and former San Jose State Music Professor Brian Belet, as well as Bay Area composer Wendy Reid’s piece “Ambient Bird-Online” which features her pet parrot Lulu as a performer as well as musicians collaborating across video chat.
The theme for 2020’s edition of the festival is Communities Near and Far. The pandemic has seen many people embrace borderless online spaces under lock downs and social distancing rules. We stay in touch with friends and neighbors, but also find that collaborating across the world is no harder than collaborating across town.
In addition to Other Minds, the NMF is partnering with Algo0ritmos collective, Medellín, Colómbia to host the concerts.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The entire program will be delivered via our mainstage website which will be hosted at live.networkmusicfestival.org.
Alongside the live program NMF will be hosting an online exhibition of video works and mobile-apps, and interactive events showcase works that allow the audience to get involved in the music making through web interfaces facilitating audience participation. They also hope to bring the community of artists and audiences together with our post-concert Q&A sessions, and a discussion panel session on Network Music and Accessibility.
Donations are accepted via the festival website: https://networkmusicfestival.org/donate/
About the Network Music Festival
The Network Music Festival first took place 2012-2014 in Birmingham, UK, exploring music performances featuring some form of online or physical network communication. It is returning in 2020 as an online festival for the first time, in response to the growth of virtual connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further line-up details and information is available at the festival website, networkmusicfestival.org/
Organizers: Shelly Knotts, Charles Céleste Hutchins, Holger Ballweg.
July 13, 2020 – San Francisco – Tune in to KALW 91.7FM in San Francisco, or visit kalw.org, this Friday night at 10pm PDT to hear Charles Amirkhanian’s presentation of Transmutation: The Music of Marga Richter.
Marga Richter emerged in a time when mainstream female composers were a rarity in contemporary music, with precious few examples of other women in her field. By the 1950’s she had become the first woman awarded a Master’s Degree in composition from the Juilliard School and four prestigious commissions by Edward Cole at MGM Records specifically to be premiered on LP. From this point on until just a few years ago, Richter continued composing in her highly individual style, receiving acclaim in her field, but never the mainstream success that her music deserves.
Unlike her contemporaries who composed using strict systems of tonal and rhythmic organization, Richter’s unhappy first marriage and her subsequent plunge into Reichian therapy to explore the depths of her emotional states led her to explore an altogether different way of composing.
Her music follows an intuitive process of through-composition, often starting with small and slow melodies and harmonies that evolve gradually throughout the work. Her process involved going back to the beginning of compositions each day, thinking the piece through to where she’d left off, and continue to let the momentum carry her forward. This somewhat arduous process led to a sometimes slow, but very careful output of works over her 70 years of composition.
In this two-hour Music from Other Minds program, Charles Amirkhanian will explore the life of this under appreciated pioneer of American Music through the lens of her work, giving historical context and commentary along the way.
July 8, 2020 – San Francisco – Tune in to KALW 91.7FM in San Francisco, or visit kalw.org, this Friday night at 10pm PDT to hear a presentation of Marc Blitzstein’s infamous work The Cradle Will Rock in it’s brilliant original orchestration.
In this program, presented by composer and vocalist Randall Wong, listeners will hear the first complete recording of Blitzstein’s theater masterpiece performed by Opera Saratoga—a recent Bridge Records release—under the baton of John Mauceri, as well as recollections by the composer about the premiere.
Marc Blitzstein’s biggest and best-remembered hit, The Cradle Will Rock was a left-wing dream when it opened in 1937, in the middle of the Great Depression. Both an attack on wealth and the political power it brings, and a paean to labor and poor people struggling to get by, the show got a huge publicity boost from its legendary opening.
The Federal Theater production had been in rehearsal for weeks and was almost ready to go when the Works Progress Administration, the federal agency that oversaw the Federal Theater, abruptly canceled the production and sent armed guards to keep any costumes or sets from being removed from the theater. Furthermore, Actors’ Equity barred cast members from performing the show onstage.
Undeterred, Blitzstein, John Houseman, and Orson Welles found another theater and a battered upright piano; the cast and hundreds of onlookers marched uptown with them. As Blitzstein launched into the introduction, Olive Stanton (the Moll) stood up in her seat and sang the opening number from the audience. The rest of the cast followed suit, and one of the greatest stories of American theater history was born.
Described as a play-in-music, The Cradle Will Rock is divided into 10 scenes, taking place in an imaginary Steel Town. The characters with names such as Mr & Mrs Mister, Harry Druggist, Larry Foreman, and Reverend Salvation come to be seen as universal archetypes rather than portraits in human psychology, giving the libretto a sort of mythical and symbolic quality, owing much to Berthold Brecht’s Epic Theater.
Set during the Great Depression and in its depiction of wealth = corruption, class struggle, and calls for unionization, it’s difficult to imagine a work that so parallels life today, only missing a plague to make an exact congruence.
June 16, 2020 – San Francisco – If an artists’ work is a composite of influences from others, Beth Anderson’s Namely inverts that notion, creating a work from the names themselves of her influencers. The album consists of 65 short pieces, each using the name of one of Anderson’s varied influences as source material. Anderson applies a generative procedure to each name to create a text-sound poem that is performed as a vocal piece by the composer.
The collection of names reveals the intermedia nature of Anderson’s work — from the artist’s mother, to composer Julius Eastman, to Fluxus “founder” George Maciunas, to Other Minds’ very own Charles Amirkhanian. Each piece functions not only as a musical piece, but a work of concrete poetry, as author Jeremy Bushnell explains in his detailed liner notes essay.
In twisting up these familiar names, Anderson utters strange combinations of familiar words and creates new ones. By weaving a web of her own influences, Anderson is charting a map from which to navigate the rest of Anderson’s deep catalog, a necessary tool for understanding an artist whose work spans from text-sound poetry, to proto-No Wave, to near-baroque minimalism. Namely begs the question: What would a similar list of 65 influencers on a different composer look like? And how would the composer translate those 65 names into a work of their own?
Anderson’s answer is at once loud and clear and deeply confounding. Namely is a work that invites a deeper dive, so jump in.
Namely will be released on August 7, 2020 as a CD and digital release through all major platforms, distributed by our friends at Naxos of America and available through our webstore.
Recommended tracks: John Cage (15), Tony Gnazzo (21), Yoko Ono (41)
June 16, 2020 – San Francisco – Evocative and imaginative, the sounds of “new music” are about to undergo a transformation on San Francisco’s listener-sponsored radio station KALW FM (91.7).
The long-running weekly program “Music from Other Minds,” heard weekly for over 15 years, will move to a new time and double its duration beginning this Friday. The program also is heard via the Internet (www.kalw.org) and is archived for on-demand listening at www.otherminds.org.
The program is slated to run from 10pm to Midnight (formerly 11pm-Midnight) in order to accommodate longer pieces of music and occasional interviews with composers that rarely were possible in the shorter format.
Executive Producer Charles Amirkhanian, who served for over two decades as Music Director at KPFA in Berkeley, and whose passion for seducing listeners into appreciating contemporary music by carefully selecting works and often interviewing their creators—both composers and musicians—will lead a team of expert rotating producers in the restructured venture.
The broadcasts, produced by Other Minds, a non-profit in San Francisco co-founded by Amirkhanian, will cover global developments in the field, ranging from new releases to the re-introduction of forgotten historical recordings of the past 100 years.
To lead off the series on June 19th, Liam Herb will celebrate Juneteenth with a comprehensive survey of music by black composers. The music will be by Olly Wilson, George Walker, Matana Roberts, Moor Mother, Norman W Long, Ben LaMar Gay, and LOAN (comprising Tongo Eisen-Martin & Chris Peck).
FEBRUARY 6, 2020, SAN FRANCISCO, CA. – Other Minds and Executive Director Charles Amirkhanian are pleased to announce the world premiere of scenes from Hutong, an opera in progress by Kui Dong, which will take place at 8pm on Thursday, March 12, 2020, at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd North, Petaluma, California. Free admission
The life story of composer Kui Dong (b. 1966, Beijing) is as unlikely as it is inspiring. From her early rigorous training as a composer of social realistic orchestral film music to the drama of facing military tanks as a student at Tiananmen Square to her new life in America as Chair of the Music Department at Dartmouth College and internationally-celebrated composer, Dong continues to evolve in unexpected ways.
Her new novel based on the early life of her husband, composer Duo Huang, who was a 12-year-old conscript from rural Hunan into the Army of the People’s Republic of China, now will be followed by her first opera, Hutong, a reminiscence of her early life growing up in the 1970s in the urban bustle of crowded Beijing.
With the support of OPERA America’s IDEA Program and Darmouth College, Other Minds will stage a workshop version of Dong’s Hutong—a comic opera in fifteen parts about the whimsical nature of urban coincidence and the white space between vignettes. Set in the late summer in modern-day Beijing, the libretto, written by Monica Datta and dramaturg Paul Schick, tells the story of a hutong populated by a zany cast of characters including a blind and deaf Norwegian sailor, a guardian Fenghuang (often portrayed as a phoenix, a Fenghuang is a mythological Chinese bird whose rare appearance is said to foreshadow an auspicious event), a bumptious French architect and his team of Chinese cohorts, playful children and their inexplicably growing frog friend, the housekeeper Ayi, as well as a violin-wielding private eye. The production will be conducted by resident Cinnabar Theater Music Director Mary Chun.
A Hutong is a type of traditional narrow lane winding through various courtyard residences, or siheyuans. Hutongs are found throughout China but most notably in Beijing. The siheyuans were once inhabited by single wealthy families, but after the Cultural Revolution they were repurposed into communal living spaces that multiple families would occupy. These compounds are often so densely populated that much of day-to-day life spills out into the surrounding hutongs. Families cook meals, vendors sell their wares, old men play chess, children play, and people pass through on their way to work. It was in such an environment that composer Kui Dong spent the first seven years of her life in Beijing—a time that she looks back on with fond nostalgia. This is also where her opera Hutong, takes place.
Throughout the opera we are given a window into the clashes within the hutong between eastern and western ideology, tradition and modernity, and innocence and malevolence. We see the cranky, bird-fearing sailor stuck in landlocked Beijing battling with the Fenghuang who only means to observe him, a conceptual French architect trying to convince the inhabitants of the hutong that they would be much happier living in a post-urban city made of bubbles, and twins who’s mischievous behavior and adults who’s sinister motives gets them into a deeply troubling situation—all while a concert master turned private investigator looks on.
Beneath the story we see an allegory for modern China and communities all over the world in a time where exploding populations, climate uncertainty, and villainous politicians have put not only the preservation of the past at risk, but also the propagation of the future.
In a recent interview with Other Minds Executive Director Charles Amirkhanian, Kui Dong spoke of her time spent living in a hutong. She remembered a simple kind of life, seeing beautiful birds and gardens, playing with friends, climbing trees, and eating dates.
She also confessed her deep love for the characters inhabiting her Hutong. Dong stated that she speaks, laughs, and cries with the characters in her mind all the time while composing, especially the guardian Fenghuang bird, who was inspired by her coloratura soprano mother. When she asked if she related to any of the characters personally, she promptly answered, “Yes, I am one of the children.”
Chelsea Hollow, soprano
Kindra Scharich, mezzo soprano
Jean-Paul Jones, tenor
Joe Meyers, bass-baritone
Randall Wong, speaker
Jennifer Cho, violin
Brenda Vahur, piano
Tim Dent, percussion
Mary Chun, Conductor
About Kui Dong
Quartet for Strings, “Differences within Oneness” (OM 2018) Digital Only
Described by newspapers and magazines such as Washington Post, Gramophone International UK, San Francisco Examiner, Charleston Post and Courier, and The Boston Intelligencer as “exquisitely…ceaselessly compelling”, [possessing] “21st-century sensibilities”, “exceptional beauty and imagination”, “a hybrid sonic labyrinth”, and “beautiful, haunting and thought-provoking,” Kui Dong’s music has been performed and commissioned by numerous ensembles and received honors and prizes from a wide spectrum of prestigious institutions, including Central Ballet Group of China, The National Centre for the Performing Arts of China, Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television Broadcasting Company, Japan’s Public Interest Incorporated Foundation and Fukuyama Arts Foundation, Spain’s Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, UK’s Arditti Quartet, Austria’s Ars Electronica, The Tanglewood Music Center, USA Commissioning Award, The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation and Library of Congress, the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, Meet the Composer, ISCM, and ASCAP etc.
Her music can be found on two releases from Other Minds Records, in addition to New World Records and Sono Luminous. Her first novel will be published by Knowledge Press and the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House in 2020.
Kui Dong is a professor of Music and current Music Department Chair at Dartmouth College.
About Monica Datta
Monica Datta studied architecture and urbanism in the United States, United Kingdom and Spain. She is interested in the use of space in fiction and architectural theory, as well as the disjunction between speculation in architecture and fictions of urbanism from literature. Her writings have appeared in Blackbird, The Collagist, Conjunctions and The New Inquiry; she has received support from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Kundiman and the Fine Arts Work Center.
About Paul Schick
Paul Schick is Artistic and Executive Director of Real Time Opera, which has been producing new works since 2002. He has written libretti for more than a dozen operas, including Pedr Solis by Per Bloland, NOVA by Lewis Nielson, Iphis/Ianthe by Shea Pierre, A House In Bali by Evan Ziporyn, Feynman and Twin Reverb by Jack Vees, and Sunburst, Amarama and Cactus Co. by Dan Plonsey. Schick has served on the directing staffs of the Wiener Staatsoper, the Teatro alla Scala, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Salzburger Festspiele, and has directed for the stage, television, and film. His theatrical productions have been performed in Europe, Asia, and the US. He has been a Visiting Professor at Antioch University, Case Western Reserve University, and at Oberlin College (German Language and Literatures) and its Conservatory of Music (Musicology). Schick holds a PhD in Musicology from Yale University.
About Mary Chun
A fierce advocate of new work, Mary Chun (conductor) has worked with many composers such as John Adams, Olivier Messiaen, Libby Larsen, William Kraft, and Tan Dun. At the invitation of composer John Adams, she conducted the Finnish chamber orchestra Avanti! in the Paris, Hamburg and Montreal premiere performances of his chamber opera Ceiling/Sky to critical acclaim. Passionate about new lyric collaborations, she has music-directed a number of world premieres, including Libby Larsen’s opera, Every Man Jack; Mexican-American composer Guillermo Galindo’s Decreation: Fight Cherries, a multi-media experimental portrait of the brief life of the brilliant French philosopher Simone Weil; Carla Lucero’s Wuornos; and Joseph Graves’ and Mort Garson’s Revoco.
Mary is the Music Director for SEVENAGES Investment Company, a Beijing/Shanghai-based production company that produces blockbuster Broadway musicals in Mandarin translation.
About Cinnabar Theater
Founded in 1974, Cinnabar Arts enriches the cultural fabric of the community through the production of intimate and thought-provoking theatrical and musical performances. By educating and inspiring youth in performing arts, Cinnabar develops future artists and audiences.
OM PRESENTS OTHER MINDS FESTIVAL 25 “MOMENT’S NOTICE,”FEATURING ANTHONY BRAXTON, IKUE MORI, ROSCOE MITCHELL, MARY HALVORSON JOËLLE LÉANDRE, WADADA LEO SMITH, AND MANY MORE, APRIL 2-5, 2020
Other Minds and Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian today announces the 25th anniversary edition of the annual Other Minds Festival of New Music taking place across four days from April 2-5, 2020, Thursday through Sunday, at the Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House. Curated by jazz concert producer Harry Bernstein, Other Minds Festival 25 “Moment’s Notice” will focus on performers whose artistry manifests consistent innovation and experimentation, including an award-winning group of improviser/composers and performers touted as both seminal icons of music of the latter 20th century and leaders in the vanguard of instant composition such as NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell, Guggenheim Fellows Jen Shyu, Wadada Leo Smith, and Zeena Parkins who will perform alongside Ikue Mori and William Winant, MacArthur Genius Award-winners Mary Halvorson and Anthony Braxton, plus Mats Gustafsson in collaboration with Joe McPhee; Doris Duke Performing Artist Award winners William Parker and Myra Melford, as well as Darius Jones, Joëlle Léandre, Ikue Mori, Berlin Prize awardee Elliott Sharp, and a number of additional performers.
Throughout the Festival, performances combining media, including dance, theater, and video will be represented, including pianist/composer Myra Melford who will partner with Los Angeles-based Butoh dancer Oguri; William Parker’s dance/theater work, The Sky is Trembling featuring Patricia Nicholson; Wadada Leo Smith’s Reflections and Meditations on Monk in collaboration with live video artist Jesse Gilbert; and Jen Shyu’s luminous Nine Doors, a theatrical work with ritualistic overtones sung in several languages and performed by Shyu on a variety of instruments.
As an auxiliary event to the Other Minds Festival, on Friday, April 3, 2020, in collaboration with the Bay Area Music Project in San Francisco, Other Minds will present a free workshop led by Wadada Leo Smith who will discuss the history and techniques of jazz music with children aged 5-10 years old.
About Our Guest Curator
Harry Bernstein has had a long career in various forms of media over the past 35 years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s he served as Vice President of Film Acquisitions for Showtime Networks and was Vice President Entertainment Development for Starwave, Paul Allen’s multimedia company, where he developed CDs with Clint Eastwood, Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Johnny Carson. In 2000 Bernstein moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he developed the business model for the sale and rental of videos and DVDs over the internet for Reel.com. In 2002 he formed a production company, Full Plate Media, where he produced culinary programming for Public Television with multiple chefs, including Jacques Pepin, José Andrés, Lydia Bastianich and Rick Bayless.
Mr. Bernstein hosted a music program throughout the 1980’s on KCRW in Los Angeles and served on the Other Minds Board of Directors from 2006-2008. He and his wife Caren Meghreblian, current President of the Other Minds board, have been hosting house concerts in their Berkeley home since 2006. These concerts have featured such artists as Roscoe Mitchell, Tyshawn Sorey, David Murray, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Nathaniel Mackey, Hafez Modirzadeh, Mark Dresser, Myra Melford, Kahil El’Zabar, Ben Goldberg, Oliver Lake, Elliott Sharp, Darius Jones, William Winant, Alvin Curran, Anthony Davis, Darren Johnston, David Rempis, Travis Laplante, Tuvan Throat Singers, Nathaniel Mackey, among others.
CALENDAR EDITORS PLEASE NOTE:
April 2 through 5, 2020
OM FESTIVAL 25, MOMENT’S NOTICE
Harry Bernstein, Curator
Taube Atrium Theater
401 Van Ness Avenue at McAllister
San Francisco, CA
Student Tickets $25 – $35
General Admission $35 – $45
Student Festival Pass: $115
General Admission Festival Pass $175
Thursday, April 2, 2020, 8:00 pm
Myra Melford/Mark Dresser/Oguri
William Winant/Zeena Parkins/Ikue Mori
William Parker/Hamid Drake/Patricia Nicholson
Friday, April 3, 2020, 8:00 pm
Roscoe Mitchell/Ambrose Akinmusire/Junius Paul/Vincent Davis
Mats Gustafsson/Joe McPhee
Saturday, April 4, 2020, 8:00 pm
Joëlle Léandre/Lauren Newton
Wadada Leo Smith
Darius Jones/Amirtha Kidambi
Sunday, April 5, 2020, 4:00 pm
Mary Halvorson/Sylvie Courvoisier
Anthony Braxton/Jacqueline Kerrod
Artist Bios Concert 1
Myra Melford‘s skillful, impassioned musicianship weaves subtle silken thread through histories, cultures, and idioms as numerous as they are diverse. World-renowned as a pianist, educator, composer, and curator, Melford’s ambition is to integrate pedigree with nascence in music-making environments which rely on trust and spontaneity. She’s received honors from the Guggenheim and Doris Duke Foundations and has ranked in multiple DownBeat polls. In addition to teaching as Professor of Composition and Improvisational Practices at UC Berkeley, Myra regularly performs with Snowy Egret (her quintet featuring Ron Miles, Liberty Ellman, Stomu Takeishi, and Tyshawn Sorey) as well as in ensembles with Nicole Mitchell, Joëlle Léandre, Ben Goldberg, Miya Masaoka, and Zeena Parkins.
Mark Dresser‘s self-proclaimed “obsession” is, happily enough, also his instrument of choice: he does not merely “play” the double-bass so much as speak it, expressing its every discernible nuance through use of extended technique and inventive amplification. His impressive oeuvre as an instrumentalist and bandleader boasts over one hundred forty recordings, highlights of which include projects with Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemmingway, John Zorn, Tim Berne, Myra Melford, Matt Wilson, Nicole Mitchell, Bob Ostertag, and Joe Lovano. In addition to being a board member of the International Society of Bassists and the International Society of Improvised Music, Dresser is also amongst the foremost scholars of the contrabass, having been selected by the Fulbright Fellowship to study the instrument in Italy, and since holding numerous teaching positions at universities in the U.S., including his current appointment at the the University of California, San Diego.
Our bodies, the organic rhythm of daily life, and the inexorable momentum of the natural world are integrated into an ever-emergent symbiotic ecosystem in the works and life of the utterly singular dancer, Oguri. A co-founder of the Body Weather Laboratory (alongside Roxanne Steinberg), Oguri has worked to involve his Butoh-inspired somatic vocabulary in cross-disciplinary pursuits which suggest an artistic vision untroubled by matters of scale (to any extreme). He is artist-in-residence at the Electric Lodge in Venice, has served on the faculty at Bennington College, and has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, The Getty Center, the Japan Foundation, and the Doris Duke Fellowship.
William Winant‘s incomparable virtuosity as a percussionist has emboldened composers as esteemed as Steve Reich, John Zorn, and Roscoe Mitchell to entrust him with the task of realizing some of history’s most demanding scores – a task he regularly executes with astonishing aplomb. Such efforts were awarded with a Grammy nomination for his recording of John Cage’s 27′ 10.554” for solo percussion in 2016. His precision and expertise serve as a deep foundation bolstering a profoundly compositional improvisatory dialect, which he has contributed to music featuring fellow legends including Frank Zappa, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Annea Lockwood, Sonic Youth, Yo-Yo Ma, and the Kronos String Quartet.
The work of Zeena Parkins is driven by a spirit of immaculate rigor and boundless creativity, making her one of the most sought-after artists in a stunning variety of disciplines: artistic and academic alike. Her innovative harp-technique is rivaled only by her inventive harp-design, as she employs both idiom-agnostic strategies for extending the sonic possibilities of the acoustic harp and electric instruments of her own making. Her 30+ year career has been decorated by honors as prestigious as the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Doris Duke Award; multiple international residencies and museum features; and of course, innumerable collaborations with visual artists, filmmakers, dancers, and fellow musicians calculating Ikue Mori, Björk, Butch Morris, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros, Kaffe Matthews, and Mandy MacIntosh. She currently holds the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition at Mills College.
Composer, performer, and media artist Ikue Mori first came to prominence behind the drum kit for the pioneering no wave band DNA, flanked by Arto Lindsay and Tim Wright. She has since crafted one of the most distinct and acutely sensitive voices in the world of experimental improvisation through use of self-programmed drum machines and laptop. Her inimitable, scintillating electronics have proven to be an essential element to the works of John Zorn and she has collaborated with countless artists world-wide, including Dave Douglas, Susie Ibarra, Zeena Parkins, Sylvie Courvoisier, Fred Frith, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame.
Hailed by the Village Voice as “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time,” William Parker‘s accomplishments as an instrumentalist, composer-improviser, educator, and author have garnered him a reputation as not only one of the most skilled practitioners of the art of improvisation, but also one of its most investigative minds. The sheer depth of his knowledge with regards to the field is staggering, and the music he makes with projects like the In Order to Survive Quartet and the Little Huey Creative Orchestra evinces a fathomless wisdom. A seminal icon of both the New York improvisation scene and the European avant-garde, Parker’s bass playing can be heard in his work with cross-continental icons like Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Peter Brotzmann, Milford Graves, Peter Kowald, and David S. Ware.
Easily one of the most sought-after percussionists in the world of jazz and improvised music, Hamid Drake incorporates an extensive battery of Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African instruments into his setup, affording him a creative flexibility which enlivens any and all musical environments to which he is a contributor. Drake’s career as a creative percussionist finds its roots in his relationship with Fred Anderson, whose workshops provided a venue to explore the intricacies of improvisation as an art and share ideas with AACM members like George Lewis. He has since charted out a remarkable journey, playing and recording with Peter Brotzmann, Ken Vandermark, Mahmoud Gania, and William Parker amongst countless others.
Patricia Nicholson‘s medium is dance, but her tireless dedication to art at-large merits terms more akin to “visionary” when attempting to describe her creative work. As a performer, she channels the energy and gestalt of free jazz in naturally-flowing movement patterns which take inspiration from traditional schools of dance while deliberately running obliquely to them. She primarily works with live musicians, the likes of which have included William Parker, Yoshiko Chuma, Don Cherry, Matthew Shipp, and KJ Holmes, but has also recently begun moving in harmony with multi-media art, spoken word, and theater. She’s also served as a curatorial bedrock, organizing important events like New York’s Vision Festival and leading as founder and director of Arts for Art since 1995.
Artists Bios: Concert 2
Roscoe Mitchell is an internationally renowned musican, composer and innovator serving until recently as the Darius Milhaud Chair of Composition at Mills College. His virtuosic resurrection of overlooked woodwind instruments spanning extreme registers, visionary solo performances, and assertion of a hybrid compositional/improvisational paradigm have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music. Mr. Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the
Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and the Trio Space. His oeuvre boasts hundreds of albums and original works, ranging from passionate, forceful improvisations to ornate orchestral music, and his honors include distinction as an NEA Jazz Master, the United States Artist Award (2019), the Doris Duke Artist Award and Audience Development Fund (2014), a CMA Presenting Jazz grant (2010), the Shifting Foundation Grant, and grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer.
In his own words, Ambrose Akinmusire “aspires to create richly textured emotional landscapes that tell the stories of the community, record the time, and change the standard.” Born and raised in Oakland, California, Akinmusire’s command of the trumpet as a limitless sonic focus has led him to “reach beyond” conventions of genre and idiom, as he seeks to radically expand the scope of musicianship as we understand it. He is among creative music’s most soaring young talents, receiving honors from the Doris Duke Foundation, the MAP Fund, the Kennedy Center, and the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition (which he won in 2007). His collaborators include Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanzsa Spalding, and Jason Moran and his music has graced the stages of both the Montery and Berlin Jazz Festivals.
Chicago born and raised, Junius Paul has quickly established himself as one of the world’s most impressive rising talents, contributing his expertise on both upright and electric basses to the music of history’s most recognized acts, including Fred Anderson, Roscoe Mitchell, Roy Hargrove, Curtis Fuller, Donald Byrd and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He performs regularly in a wide variety of genres, “ranging from jazz to hip-hop, house, funk, classical, and gospel” and is a fixture of the international touring scene, with notable appearances at the Southport Weekender Festival in England, the Sons d’hiver Festival in Paris, and the Ghana Jazz Festival. His exciting debut album as a bandleader releases in November of 2019 on the International Anthem label.
Vincent Davis traces his passion for music back to his childhood: growing up in a home constantly filled with music, he felt compelled to study drums and percussion at the Milwaukee Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of teacher and mentor Manty Ellis. His adoration of sound in all its intricacies is immediately apparent in the music he’s made with artists as diverse as Roscoe Mitchell, Marilyn Crispell, Arthur Blythe, Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake, Jodie Christian, and Scott Fields. He is the founder of the ensemble Laws of Motion, percussionist on more than 30 recording sessions, and a member of the AACM.
“Intensity” is the first word to come to mind when considering the aerophonic firebrand Mats Gustafsson. Sweden-born and Austria-based, Gustafsson’s saxophone playing as both a solo-artist and collaborator with Sonic Youth, Merzbow, Joe McPhee, Barry Guy, Otomo Yoshihide, Peter Brotzmann, and Christian Marclay (to name a few) has graced stages and sound-systems throughout six continents over the course of a career spanning more than 2000 concerts and 250 record productions. He’s also worked in numerous cross-disciplinary pursuits with dancers, artists, and poets while producing international festivals and devoting time to his own record labels Slottet, OlofBright Editions, Crazy Wisdom and Blue Tower Records.
In his own apt words, Joe McPhee is a “multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, conceptualist, and theoretician.” Inspired by the florid improvisational voice of saxophonist Albert Ayler, McPhee’s gorgeous tone intones in conjunction with what he calls “sideways thinking” or a “a process of provocation” to resolve queries presented by fellow improvisers in ways that only he ever could. He can be heard playing members of the saxophone and trumpet families alongside Ken Vandermark, Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, Dominic Duval, and Jay Rosen. Over the course of 50 years, his enduring ambition has been to “reach for music’s outer limits.”
A starfire polymath and font of artistic ingenuity, Jen Shyu‘s performance practice is literally unclassifiable on account of the sheer breadth of her expertise. Her spellbinding creations incorporate her award-winning vocal talents, virtuosity on multiple instruments, expression through movement, and visionary stage-design to inspire and exhilarate audiences world-wide. Her solo performances and work as a vocalist and instrumentalist with the likes of Nicole Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, and Chris Potter have brought her to the most highly-esteemed stages in the world, including Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center, the Ojai Festival, the National Gugak Center, and the National Theater of Korea. Her multiplex talents have earned the Guggenheim Fellowship, The USA Fellowship, and the Doris Duke Artist Award. At present, one can anticipate her performances to feature some combination of piano, violin, Taiwanese moon lute, Chinese er hu, Japanese biwa, Korean gayageum, Korean soribuk, and Korean kkwaenggwari.
Artists Bios: Concert 3
Joëlle Léandre is a master-architect whose medium is idea-craft. Impeccable musicianship and a singular talent for the seamless integration of a panoply of techniques make her amongst Europe’s leading bassists in both the world of new music and free improvisation. She’s performed with l’Itinéraire, 2e2m, and Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Intercontemporain and has realized works specifically composed for her by Cage, Scelsi, Lacy, and Clementi among others. Improvisatory collaborators include Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Irene Schweizer, Barre Phillips, Steve Lacy, John Zorn, and India Cooke. At present, her oeuvre boasts over 200 recordings, teaching appointments at Mills College, and residencies in Berlin and Kyoto.
Lauren Newton’s spiraling, clarion vocalise is a recombinant force, de-contextualizing syllabic sounds and rearranging breath-born sororities in accordance with the sort of logic of poetics that makes possible interactive improvisatory performance. She’s worked with luminaries as diverse as Anthony Braxton, Jon Rose, Vladimir Tarasov, Joëlle Léandre, and Aki Takase and has lent her considerable talents to the Vienna Art Orchestra and the European Chaos String Quintet. Her sparkling creativity has led her to cross-disciplinary ventures such as radio plays, dance productions, and the performance of challenging contemporary works written for her by A. Hölszky, B. Konrad, W. Dauner, H.J. Hespos, and H. Zerbe.
The music of Wadada Leo Smith is comprised of brilliant flurries of pearlescent orbital light, each a well of potential to be drawn from by anyone brave enough to call out in their own unique voice. A trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer-improviser, and scholar, Smith’s music arises from an admiration of each individual’s tone-colors and a systematized creative practice which has contributed to the formation his original musical language, Ankhrasmation. He is amongst the most prolific and celebrated musicians of the AACM, receiving honors and distinctions from the Doris Duke Award, DownBeat Magazine, the Jazz Journalists Association, and the Pulitzer Prize (for which he was a finalist in 2013). Additionally Wadada Leo Smith has a proud history teaching and mentoring at universities nation-wide, including The University of New Haven, Bard College, and CalArts, from whom he was awarded and honorary doctorate and is now celebrated as Faculty Emeritus.
Amirtha Kidambi’s unparalleled ingenuity as a vocalist draws deeply from variegated, interstitial streams: studies in Carnatic music, formal training in classical music including forays into the experimental avant-garde, and a zeal for the free jazz of Alice and John Coltrane all converge to produce a vocal technique acutely sensitive to the sonority of each phoneme in and of itself. Kidambi’s voice and harmonium playing lead with august gusto in Elder Ones (her quartet with Matt Nelson, Max Jaffe, and Nick Dunston), which Ben Ratliff of the New York Times has referred to as “a gauge for how strong and flexible the scene of young musicians in New York’s improvised and experimental music world can be.” In addition to leading Elder Ones, Kidambi serves on the faculty of the New School, regularly performs with Mary Halvorsen, Darius Jones, and Lea Bertucci and has collaborated with Tyshawn Sorey, Matana Roberts, and Ingrid Laubrock amongst many others.
The music of Darius Jones gales and glistens as his superlative melodic sensibility and superior command of the saxophone work in concert to produce spellbinding, air-enriching improvisations. Based in New York City since 2005, Jones is widely regarded by critics (including writers for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and DownBeat) as an exquisite musician who’s time-large, entirely singular artistry simultaneously engages African-American music’s rich history while presenting a compelling vision of its present, extending to the beyond in recording projects “evocative of Black Futurism.” His peerless creativity as a composer and performer has brought him to stages as elevated as Carnegie Hall and ensembles featuring all-time greats such as Gerald Cleaver, Oliver Lake, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Mike Reed, Nasheet Waits, Marshall Allen, Tyshawn Sorey, Amirtha Kidambi, Steve Lehman, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Fay Victor, Matthew Shipp, and many others.
Artists Bios: Concert 4
Recently announced as a 2019 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Mary Halvorson’s inimitable musicianship has taken the New York creative music scene by storm, reformulating and revolutionizing traditional conceptions of the electric guitar’s role in jazz and improvisation in ways that have rippled out across the world. A prolific composer and bandleader, Halvorsen leads nigh-innumerable ensembles featuring some of the world’s finest talents including Ches Smith, Jonathan Finlayson, Ingrid Laubrock, Susan Alcorn, Amirtha Kidambi, and Tomas Fujiwara. She’s also contributed inspiration and innovation in equal measure to ensembles in collaboration with Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Jessica Pavone,
Tomeka Reid, and John Zorn amongst countless others. In addition to her prestigious MacArthur fellowship, Halvorson has received considerable accolades from publications as diverse as JazzTimes, City Arts, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, NPR, Village Voice, and DownBeat.
Sylvie Courvoisier‘s absolute mastery of the piano as an expressive, resonating body has propelled her to the forefront of New York’s creative music scene as one of its most versatile improvisers. Since her arrival in Brooklyn in 1998, she has appeared on more than 50 records (leading or co-leading in excess of 30) and has extensively toured the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Japan with the likes of Kenny Wollesen, Drew Gress, Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori, Evan Parker, Tony Oxley, Joëlle Léandre, Ellery Eskelin, Yusef Lateef, Ingrid Laubrock, and John Zorn. Universally acclaimed for her deep insight into the lofty architecture of sonic space, she has received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Chamber Music America, and the New York Foundation for the Arts in addition to several honors from her birth-home, Switzerland.
Elliott Sharp is an iconic figure of New York City’s music and art scenes on account of his wide-reaching talents as a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and bandleader. His uninhibited creativity on the guitar finds focus from his affinity for synthesis, as he incorporates concepts from mathematics and the hard-sciences into his compositional and improvisatory practice alike. He has worked with Radio-Sinfonie Frankfurt, Debbie Harry, Ensemble Modern, the Kronos String Quartet, Jack deJohnette, Oliver Lake, Sonny Sharrock, and Christian Marclay amongst many others. His music, including scores and sound-design for feature films, documentaries, and television networks, has been honored by the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Parson’s Center for Transformative Media, and the prestigious Berlin Prize in Musical Composition.
One cannot overstate the enormity of the impact Anthony Braxton has had on the worlds of contemporary composition and creative musicianship at-large. A legendary AACM member and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Braxton’s work is a comprehensive, systematic exploration of the artistry of sound, focusing on “core principles of improvisation, structural navigation, and ritual engagement – innovation, spirituality, and intellectual investigation.” His music is expressed in nigh-infinite variety, ranging from watershed solo-performances on woodwinds to the operatic epics of his Trilllium cycle. Distinguished as Professor Emeritus at Wesleyan University, Braxton’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the aforementioned MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, an NEA Jazz Master Award, and honorary doctorates from Université de Liège (Belgium), and New England Conservatory (USA).
Jacqueline Kerrod‘s mellifluous, exquisitely sensitive harp-playing has graced the stages of the world’s most vaunted venues, including Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the Apollo Theater, SF MoMA, and the Royal Albert Hall. Her virtuosity is matched only by her versatility, making her a favored performer not only in the realm of written music (running the gamut from Mozart to contemporary works written for her) but in experimental improvisation circles as well. She frequently improvises with MacArthur Foundation award-winner Anthony Braxton, and her music has been featured in conferences and festivals all over the world, ranging from the American Harp Society National Conference in New York City to the Harare International Festival of the Arts in Zimbabwe.
Other Minds announces THE NATURE OF MUSIC, 2020 Season
Charles Amirkhanian, 75th Birthday Concert
Introducing a new 2-CD set from New World Records
With composer/author Kyle Gann, as guest moderator
Sunday, January 19, 2020 @ 3pm
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Theater
David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way (between Shattuck & Oxford)
Berkeley, CA 94704
The Nature of Music Series opens its 2020 season with a 75th Birthday Celebration and Concert of works by Charles Amirkhanian, Executive & Artistic Director of Other Minds. Composer and author Kyle Gann, Professor of Music at Bard College, will serve as guest moderator in conversation with Amirkhanian. Gann contributed extensive program notes for Loudspeakers, a new 2-CD set from New World Records, gathering together four half-hour radiophonic collage works, commissioned by the West German Radio, based on recordings of natural and human-made sounds, in their world premiere commercial release. Two of those, Im Frühling, and Son of Metropolis San Francisco, will be heard.
A second concert with Interspecies Music composer Jim Nollman takes place Thursday, May 7, 2020, at 7:30pm.
In celebration of his 75th birthday, Other Minds presents Bay Area composer and producer Charles Amirkhanian, whose 23-year career as Music Director of KPFA Radio (1969-1992), and quarter of a century as Artistic Director of Other Minds (1993-2019), have lent visibility and support to innovative living composers from around the world. The scope and variety of his career contributions have been honored by two Letters of Distinction from the American Music Center (1984, 2005), ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award for Service to American Music (1989), Chamber Music America’s Adventurous Programming award (2009), and the Champion of New Music Award from the American Composers Forum (2017).
While at KPFA, Amirkhanian, with colleague Richard Friedman, initiated a series of monthly broadcasts in 1970 called The World Ear Project. Audio aficionados worldwide were asked to use the newly-available portable cassette recorder to document ambient sounds and mail them to the Berkeley radio station. Listeners later were amazed to hear 15-minute long audio snapshots of an outdoor marketplace in India, the raucous machine-like drone of a blimp’s interior, and a rodeo parade, among numerous others.
Charles Amirkhanian (b. 1945) can be regarded as a central figure in American music, and on several fronts. As a composer, he’s been pervasively innovative in two genres: text-sound pieces, in which he can draw engaging rhythmic processes from wacky word assemblages such as “rainbow-chug-bandit” and “church-car-rubber-baby-buggy-bumper,” and natural-sound electronic pieces far beyond the usual confines of musique concrète.
—Kyle Gann, New World Records 2019
For his concert, Amirkhanian will present two works: Im Frühling and Son of Metropolis San Francisco. Im Frühling (“In Springtime”) might be called a tone poem in reverse. He notes that 19th-century composers often used the piano or the orchestra to imitate nature, but here Amirkhanian begins with sounds of nature—birds chirping, thunder, animal roars, streams babbling, and insect noises—and has them imitating solo instruments or even a full orchestra playing modern music.
In 1985, Amirkhanian created an affectionate homage to his adopted hometown, San Francisco—a 55 minute sound collage titled Metropolis San Francisco. For this work he spent a year recording sounds from the environments of the Bay Area. In 1997, finding its length inconvenient for some presentation purposes, he sculpted a more condensed version called Son of Metropolis San Francisco. It works beautifully as an ambient soundscape even if one pays no attention to the provenance of the sounds. Still, the sounds are curated to create a sense of place, not just via the exoticism of nature but also taking social and mass culture phenomena into effect.
Also on the program will be selections from the other works on the New World release: Pianola, a 40-minute, 10-movement extravaganza with snippets of historical player piano rolls (by Stravinsky, Antheil, Toch, Grainger and others) triggered from a keyboard sampler, and Loudspeakers (for Morton Feldman), with the voice of the late composer discussing his compositional strategies while his words are manipulated to reflect, sometimes humorously, his various techniques.
The program will be followed by light refreshments and birthday cake.