L@TE: Friday Nights at BAM/PFA Opening Night
MATRIX Book Launch
Terry Riley Pipe Dreams
November 6, 2009
5 p.m. & 8 p.m.
DJ Jon Leidecker
DJ Jon Leidecker sometimes plays his own music under the pseudonym Wobbly, but given that much of his music is made out of thousands of samples of recordings of other people’s music, the difference between a live set and a DJ set is only a matter of pacing. In any case, Gesualdo, Sacred Harp singers, Helen Merrill, Tibetan horns, Messiaen, U.T.F.O., Eliane Radigue, and the varied pioneers of musique concrète are more likely than not to sound pretty wonderful when layered into an aural fabric and projected into the galleries of the Berkeley Art Museum.
Book Launch: MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art
Artists and curators in conversation:
Matt Heckert and Lawrence Rinder
Tom Marioni and Constance M. Lewallen
Allison Smith and Elizabeth Thomas
Celebrating the publication of MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art, artists and curators discuss the thirty-year history and vital impact of the MATRIX Program. The book was conceived as a MATRIX project in its own right, born in a spirit of experimentation and in collaboration with Project Projects, the design partnership of Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels. The book’s visual elements—ephemera, installation views, production materials—speak to the process of making each exhibition, in a collaged and anecdotal form in keeping with the story of MATRIX. Interspersed with these materials are newly commissioned interviews between MATRIX artists and curators.
Terry Riley: Pipe Dreams
Notes from the Composer and Performer
My first all-night concert was at the Philadelphia College of Arts in 1967. Artist Bob Benson, my collaborator, placed large silver Mylar panels all around the gallery to give psychedelic mirroring to the surrounding people and objects. I played a little harmonium that used a vacuum-cleaner blower for its air supply, and I had my time-lag accumulator set up to do live looping for Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band, which I played on the soprano saxophone. With the live looping and accumulating, it sounded like a huge saxophone orchestra.
The concert started at 10 p.m. and ended at 6 a.m. when the sunlight came through the gallery’s skylights. People were strewn about in hammocks, on cushions, and in sleeping bags. Families brought their kids, food, and thermoses of hot drinks. I would play an hour or two and then play that back on the sound system; during the replay of each segment, I would go out and lie down in the gallery with the rest of the audience.
At home, I usually play and sing late at night . . . anything from composed pieces to ragtime to improvisations on raga melodies to standards, sometimes all spun together in one web, long repetitive figurations unraveling in the night’s spaciousness. I would like that experience of my late-night living room to float into this gallery tonight in an easy, informal arabesque.
Notes on Terry Riley
by Robert Davidson
Terry Riley was born in Colfax, California, and studied music at San Francisco State University and at UC Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Riley established a lifelong friendship with fellow composition student La Monte Young. In addition to organizing happenings together, the composers collaborated for Anna Halprin’s dance theater. After his graduation from Berkeley in 1961, Riley was briefly involved with the Fluxus movement in New York before boarding a ship for Europe. Riley made a living as a cocktail pianist in American air force base nightclubs, eventually settling in Paris for a year.
In C was composed in San Francisco, and received its premiere at the San Francisco Tape Music Center in November 1964. The ensemble included such new music figures as Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Morton Subotnick, and Jon Gibson. The work galvanized the area of composition that has become known as minimalism. By 1968, Riley had become notorious for all-night solo performances, lasting up to nine hours. The release of In C on Columbia Masterworks was a popular success and did much to establish the reputation of both Riley and minimalism. A second album, A Rainbow in Curved Air, followed in 1969 and was similarly popular. Its influence was particularly felt among rock musicians including the bands Soft Machine, Curved Air, and The Who (whose 1971 hit song “Baba O’Riley” quoted passages from the album). Riley’s impact on the popular music world was carried further with the 1970 release of The Church of Anthrax, a collaboration with John Cale of the Velvet Underground.
Riley traveled to New Delhi in 1970 to begin studies in Hindustani music with Pandit Pran Nath. He continued to study kirana vocal music with Pran Nath until the teacher’s death in 1995.
An appointment by Mills College brought Riley back to California in 1972; he taught Hindustani music and composition until 1980, while continuing his solo performances in tours of the United States and Europe. While teaching at Mills College, Riley formed a friendship with the leader of the Kronos Quartet, David Harrington. A long association began, resulting in Riley’s composing a large number of works for the Kronos Quartet.
Riley formed his own ensemble, Khayal, in 1989. In 1993 he formed a theater company, The Travelling Avant-Garde, to tour his chamber opera The Saint Adolf Ring. He has scored three feature films and has made music for numerous short films, including those of Bruce Conner.
The composer’s career has taken many fascinating twists in recent years. In 2003, his plans for the Time Lag Accumulator II were realized and constructed for the Festival of Lille. This nine-room mirrored structure with multi-time delays will reside at the Musée d’art contemporain in Lyon, France. The Heaven Ladder, Book 6 (2006), a set of five pieces for piano four hands, was commissioned by Sarah Cahill and premiered by Cahill and Joseph Kubera. Last year he premiered The Universal Bridge for solo pipe organ to a capacity audience at Walt Disney Hall.
Riley currently spends much of his energy composing works for his guitarist son Gyan. He rises early each day to practice raga before improvising, practicing, and composing at his home in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
L@TE Next Week
Friday, November 13
SHOOT: Photography of the Moment
With author/editor Ken Miller and photographers Ari Marcopoulos and Paul Schiek in conversation.
SHOP: Zine Mart
Explore the East Bay’s rich D.I.Y. culture with this special pop-up shop of zines and other self-produced multiples. Co-created with Rock Paper Scissors, Oakland.
Start your weekend in the BAM galleries! The galleries are now open until 9 p.m. or later on most Fridays, with DJs spinning tunes and wine and beer available for purchase in the lobby beginning at 5 p.m., and an array of performances and other programs in Gallery B. L@TE events on the first Friday of each month are curated by Sarah Cahill; guest programmers Anne Colvin and Franklin Melendez will join the L@TE roster in February 2010. For information on upcoming programs and to buy advance tickets, visit bampfa.berkeley.edu/late.
L@TE is made possible in part by Bank of America, the Tin Man Fund, and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees. Special thanks to our media sponsors, East Bay Express and San Francisco Bay Guardian.
Piano generously provided by Piedmont Piano Company. Terry Riley’s appearance sponsored by the Jacqueline Hoefer Fund.