William Winant Percussion Group
Featuring Fred Frith and James Fei
Programmed by Sarah Cahill
February 5, 2010
DJ The Bipolar Bear
Performance by William Winant Percussion Group, Featuring Fred Frith and James Fei
Solo to Anthony Cirone, for tenor bells, by Lou Harrison
This piece, composed in 1972, uses a set of tenor bells tuned in a just D-major scale. Lou Harrison wrote it during a time when he and his partner Bill Colvig were building percussion instruments reflecting their interest in pure tuning systems. Anthony Cirone was a percussionist with the San Francisco Symphony and a faculty member at San Jose State University and Stanford University.
Pendulum Music, by Steve Reich
Pendulum Music was composed in 1968, originally incorporated in a multimedia collaboration with William Wiley entitled Over Evident Falls. It was also featured in a 1969 concert of works by Reich at the Whitney Museum, during the exhibition Anti-Illusions. The piece employs microphones suspended above loudspeakers as pendulums, swinging undisturbed once set into motion by the performers. As the microphones approach the speakers, feedback is induced and a phasing pattern results from the slightly different periodicity of the multiple pendulums. Pendulum Music reflects Reich’s concerns at the time in both gradual processes and the use of amplification. Like other feedback pieces from the period, Pendulum Music folds a system designed to amplify other sounds onto itself, turning it into a sound-generating apparatus. In an interview with Jason Gross in 2000, Reich said about the work: “It’s the ultimate process piece. It’s me making my peace with Cage. It’s audible sculpture. If it’s done right, it’s kind of funny.”
Having Never Written a Note for Percussion, by James Tenney
Stick Figures, by Fred Frith
Stick Figures was commissioned by The Gas Station, New York, with funds made available by Meet the Composer. It was premiered by Fred Frith and Mark Howell on June 9, 1990. The piece consists of a set of specific musical gestures juxtaposed within a time grid, and because of the unusual demands on the players it is better suited to percussionists than guitarists. Several different versions of the piece exist, to suit different contexts, varying in duration from twenty minutes to more than an hour.
Poème Symphonique, by György Ligeti
György Ligeti composed Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes in 1962, during his brief acquaintance with the Fluxus movement. Besides the metronomes, the piece requires ten “performers” and a conductor who gives the downbeat and decides when the performance is over. The hundred metronomes are generally divided into groups of ten, and they are all wound to different measures of tightness and set to different speeds. Once they are wound they are all started as simultaneously as possible. The performers then leave. As the metronomes slow down, one after another, and eventually stop, periodicity becomes noticeable in the aural texture, and individual metronomes become more clearly audible. The controversy over the first performance was sufficient to cause Dutch television to cancel a planned broadcast, replacing it with a soccer match.
Special thanks to Musiqa Houston and to Albert Behar for making tonight’s performance of Poème Symphonique possible.
Music in Contrary Motion, by Philip Glass
Music in Contrary Motion belongs to a series of pieces written by Glass in 1969, soon after he had spent time studying with Ravi Shankar in India. Each piece explores the patterns of expanding figures that follow the direction of the title: Music in Fifths, Music in Similar Motion, Music in Contrary Motion. Contrary Motion is written in what Glass calls “open form.” This means that the figures could be augmented forever, and the piece does not have a set ending point. The longer figures are structured in two parts, the second part an inversion of the first. Music in Contrary Motion was originally scored for electric organ; however, ensembles of various instrumentation have performed the piece.
Solo to Anthony Cirone, for tenor bells, by Lou Harrison (reprise)
About the Performers
William Winant has performed with some of the most innovative and creative musicians of our time, including John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Keith Jarrett, John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, James Tenney, Terry Riley, Cecil Taylor, Steve Reich, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo, Sonic Youth, Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, Yo-Yo Ma, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, and the Kronos String Quartet. He has over two hundred recordings to his credit, in a variety of genres, and he is principal percussionist for both the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle. For many years he worked with composer Lou Harrison, recording and premiering many of his works. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and teaches at Mills College and the University of California at Berkeley.
James Fei is a composer, improviser, and sound artist. Works by Fei have been performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, MATA Micro Orchestra, and Noord-Hollands Philharmonisch Orkest. Recordings can be found on Leo Records, Improvised Music from Japan, CRI, Krabbesholm, and Organized Sound. His compositions for instrumental ensembles focus on the physical processes involved in sound production, such as the flow of breath and saliva, musician fatigue, instruments crippled by cuts, and the threshold of audibility. Sound installations and performance on live electronics by Fei often investigate the use electronic and acoustic feedback. Fei teaches sound art and electronic arts at Mills College.
Composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith has situated himself for more than thirty years in the area where rock music and new music meet. Cofounder of the British underground band Henry Cow (1968–78), he moved to New York in the late seventies and came into contact with many of the musicians with whom he’s since been associated, including, for example, John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins, and Bob Ostertag. In the 1980s Frith began to write for dance, film, and theater, and this in turn has led to his composing for ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, and many other groups, including his own critically acclaimed Guitar Quartet. Fred is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels’s award-winning documentary film Step Across the Border. He is currently professor of composition at Mills College.
The BAM galleries are open until 9 p.m. on most Fridays, with drinks and DJs in the lobby starting at 6 p.m., and an array of performances and other programs in Gallery B. For information on upcoming events and to buy advance tickets, visit bampfa.berkeley.edu/late.
Please check out the February 2010 L@TE collectible poster, designed by local artist Kellie McCool, available in the Museum Store.
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