Composer Charles Amirkhanian began incorporating ambient sounds in his music in the 1970s and long has championed others who share his interest. On the 75th anniversary of his birthday (January 19, 1945, 4:37pm, Fresno, California) his music will be featured on the 13th installment of our series “The Nature of Music,” in a special benefit concert that doubles as a record release party for his new 2-CD set Loudspeakers on the New World Records label.
Amirkhanian will discuss his music with composer and author Kyle Gann (a member of the faculty at Bard College), the program annotator for Loudspeakers, and present surround sound performances of two of the works on the compilation: Im Frühling and Son of Metropolis San Francisco. Water sounds, bird calls and a cuckoo clock predominate in the former work, an ironic sendup of the cheerfulness of 19th Century salon music for piano solo of the same title. Here, the sunny mood darkens as the simple calls of one or two birds gradually is overwhelmed. More and more species join until there are fully a dozen clamoring in free counterpoint. A drum cadence of thunderclaps draws the music to a close. In Son of Metropolis San Francisco Amirkhanian takes his microphone to the outskirts of the Bay Area, beginning in the forest outside Aptos and gradually moving toward the city and then away. Cable car bells and foghorns are eschewed in favor of quiet forests, elephant seals mating, lapping water and an outburst from a Chinese television soap opera for good measure.
Both Im Frühling and Son of Metropolis San Francisco are featured on Amirkhanian’s latest CD Loudspeakers, a 2-CD set just released in December 2019, by New World Records. The CD also features some of Amirkhanian’s Ivesian 40-minute-long suite Pianola, based on historical player piano rolls, and the title piece, a vocal portrait of the late composer Morton Feldman. The recording can be purchased on our web store if you’d like to get a preview of the works to be presented at this event. Snacks and refreshments will be served in the lobby following the performance.