DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Peter Cavagnaro, pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu, (510) 642-0365

Trimpin: Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra / MATRIX 244
November 2—December 23, 2012

Nancarrow at 100: A Centennial Celebration
November 2—November 4, 2012

image
Trimpin in his studio working on Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra. Photo courtesy of the artist.

SEATTLE-BASED ARTIST TRIMPIN UNVEILS A NEW SOUND SCULPTURE TO HONOR THE CENTENARY OF COMPOSER CONLON NANCARROW’S BIRTH; THE EXHIBITION OPENING KICKS OFF NANCARROW AT 100, A SPECIAL THREE-DAY CELEBRATION CO-PRODUCED BY OTHER MINDS, CAL PERFORMANCES, AND BAM/PFA, FEATURING CONCERTS, FILM SCREENINGS, AND CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE UC BERKELEY CAMPUS

Download a PDF version of this press release

Berkeley, CA, October 15, 2012 —
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Trimpin: Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra / MATRIX 244, a new sculptural sound installation by the Seattle-based artist Trimpin. The work is created in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the avant-garde expatriate American composer Conlon Nancarrow (1912–97), best known for his rhythmically complex and intensely layered compositions for the player and prepared piano. Trimpin’s performative installation results from several years of study and investigation and incorporates percussive instruments originally designed by Nancarrow, which Trimpin recovered from the composer’s Mexico City home and has carefully restored.

A MacArthur Fellow (1997), Trimpin is recognized for his creative investigations of acoustic music in spatial contexts, often using salvaged and reconfigured instruments and technological equipment to extend the traditional boundaries of instruments and the sounds they produce. Nancarrow’s radical player-piano scores, which he composed from the late 1940s, existed only as unique, individually punched player piano rolls until Trimpin convinced Nancarrow, soon after they met in 1987, to allow him to convert the vulnerable rolls into MIDI files, creating an enduring format for these otherwise fugitive pieces.

For this new installation, commissioned by Other Minds in collaboration with BAM/PFA, Trimpin has drawn on his deep understanding of and admiration for Nancarrow’s music and creative approach. Nancarrow spent several years of his life on a large scale, vacuum-actuated percussion orchestra, capable of performing rhythmically complex compositions on an array of hand-built ceramic and orchestral drums, wood blocks, gongs, and other instruments. With less than desired results, Nancarrow eventually abandoned his dream orchestra. Over sixty years later, Trimpin has reimagined and rebuilt the orchestra using three salvaged upright pianos, which have been broken apart, reconfigured, mechanized as player pianos, and “prepared” to play a variety of Nancarrow’s scores, as well as Nancarrow’s drums, unveiled for the first time in this exhibition. The compositions are rearranged and fragmented across three pianos in short and varied pieces, and include some phrases from original Nancarrow rolls, seemingly punched for use by the percussion orchestra. The motion of visitors in the gallery triggers the acoustic environment, incorporating the audience and spatial environment into the character and performance of this work. The installation performs in real time over the course of the exhibition, with hundreds of feet of player-piano paper spilling out onto the gallery floor, expanding the piece into an evolving spatial performance of acoustic sound.

Nancarrow at 100: A Centennial Celebration
BAM/PFA, Other Minds, and Cal Performance salute Nancarrow with a spate of music, films, and discussions across the UC Berkeley campus from November 2 through November 4, 2012. Nancarrow at 100: A Centennial Celebration kicks off with a conversation between artist Trimpin and BAM/PFA Chief Curator and Director of Programs and Collection Lucinda Barnes about Trimpin’s MATRIX installation and Nancarrow’s legacy. BAM/PFA also hosts Don’t Shoot the Player Piano: The Music of Conlon Nancarrow at the PFA Theater, two evenings of rarely seen films, some biographical, others visual tributes to Nancarrow’s music, including the West Coast premiere of James R. Greeson’s Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso of the Player Piano. Cal Performances presents three concerts in Hertz Hall that will display Nancarrow’s diverse body of work, including performances by Trimpin and Rex Lawson, Calder Quartet, and Lawson with Chris Froh, Graeme Jennings, Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams. Lastly, there will be two public panel discussions at Hertz Hall: The Expanding Universe of Conlon Nancarrow and Eyeballs Out! How Performers Learned to “Play” Nancarrow. Guests at these discussions will include Yoko Sugiura-Nancarrow, widow of the composer, music archivist Felix Meyer, and music publisher Peter Garland, biographer Kyle Gann, as well as the festival’s numerous performers. See the schedule below for details for all the events.

NANCARROW AT 100: A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION
EVENTS

Friday, November 2; 5:30 p.m.
In Conversation: Trimpin and Lucinda Barnes

On the opening evening of BAM/PFA’s presentation of Trimpin: Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra / MATRIX 244, Chief Curator and Director of Programs and Collections Lucinda Barnes talks with Trimpin about his new installation and Conlon Nancarrow’s legacy.

This event is free and open to the public.

We recommend taking public transportation to this event. Parking will be in short supply due to a Friday night Cal football game at Memorial Stadium.

BAM/PFA: 2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

----

Friday, November 2; 7 p.m.
Film Screening: Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso of the Player Piano
James R. Greeson (U.S., 2012)

Who would have thought that the miraculous maestro of Mexico City, the infamous Conlon Nancarrow, was born and bred in Texarkana, Arkansas? Living in semi-obscurity for more than a half-century until his death in 1997, he was a composer of demanding, multirhythmic canons for player piano. James Greeson’s smoothly composed Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso of the Player Piano provides contrapuntal insights about an irascible composer who invented a virtuosic, heavily cadenced music that outdistanced the skills of flesh-and-blood musicians. Champion of the player piano, the only instrument robust enough to undertake his music, Conlon Nancarrow could roll with the punches.

Preceded by:
Studies on Nancarrow, #2 (Alban Wesly, Netherlands, 2008). The Dutch reed quintet Calefax creates visual puzzles that express the cadences of Nancarrow’s compositions. (3:07 mins, Color, Digital files, From the artist)

Followed by:
Studies on Nancarrow, #18 (Alban Wesly, Netherlands, 2008) (3:16 mins, Color, Digital files, From the artist)

In Person: Yoko Sugiura-Nancarrow, Mako Nancarrow, Trimpin, Charles Amirkhanian

$9.50 general admission; $6.50 for UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, seniors, youth, and disabled persons; and $5.50 for BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students. A special price of $7.50 is being offered to Nancarrow at 100 concert ticket holders.

We recommend taking public transportation to this event. Parking will be in short supply due to a Friday night Cal football game at Memorial Stadium.

PFA Theater: 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

----

Saturday, November 3, 11 a.m.
Panel Discussion: The Expanding Universe of Conlon Nancarrow

A panel discussion moderated by Other Minds Executive and Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian, and including Yoko Sugiura-Nancarrow, widow of the composer; Felix Meyer, director of the Sacher Stiftung; Kyle Gann, author of The Music of Conlon Nancarrow; Peter Garland, original publisher of Nancarrow's Player Piano Studies; and Trimpin, composer and sound sculptor. This panel session also includes a performance of Nancarrow's Study No. 12 and No. 25 by Trimpin.

This event is free and open to public

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus: Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley

----

Saturday, November 3; 2 p.m.
Concert: Trimpin and Rex Lawson

Sculptor, sound artist, musician, and composer Trimpin, along with a vorsetzer, a mechanical piano-playing device, perform Nancarrow's Studies No. 5, 6, 11, 21, 26, 37, and Study 41c for two pianos, and English pianola virtuoso Rex Lawson performs Percy Grainger's Molly on the Shore and Shepherd's Hey, and Sergei Rachmaninoff's Prelude in E-flat, Op. 23 No. 6. Also on this program is French director Jean Grémillon's player-piano musical accompaniment to his documentary Un tour au large — Voyage on the Open Sea (1926) about the voyage of a fishing boat. Though the film is assumed lost forever, these newly discovered piano rolls, meant to accompany it, comprise possibly the best music ever composed by a film director.

$20.00, subject to change, available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988 to charge by phone; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door.

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus: Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley

----

Saturday, November 3; 8 p.m.
Concert: Calder Quartet

The "superb" (New York Times) Calder Quartet defies boundaries with their performances of a broad repertoire at an exceptional level, always striving to channel the true intention of the composer. Here, they perform Thomas Adès's The Four Quarters, a work suggestive of the traditional uses of the term to indicate divisions of time, Conlon Nancarrow's String Quartet No. 1 and No. 3 for conventional instruments, and a Paul Usher string quartet arrangement of Nancarrow’s Study No. 33. Although Nancarrow's popularity arose from the recordings of the player-piano studies, many chamber ensemble arrangements are now firmly established as classics in their own right. The program concludes with String Quartet No. 5 by Béla Bartók, a composer Nancarrow pointed to as one of the biggest influences on his own music.

$30.00, subject to change, available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988 to charge by phone; at www.calperformances.org; and at
the door.

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus: Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley

----

Sunday, November 4, 12 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Eyeballs Out! How Performers Learned to “Play” Nancarrow

A panel discussion moderated by Charles Amirkhanian with Southbank Centre Nancarrow Festival Curator Dominic Murcott, percussionist Chris Froh, piano duo Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams, Nancarrow biographer Kyle Gann, violinist Graeme Jennings, and artist Trimpin. The afternoon also includes a performance of Nancarrow's Piece for Tape as well as Nancarrow's Study No. 3a and other selected studies.

This event is free and open to the public.

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus: Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley

----

Sunday, November 4, 4 p.m.
Film Screening: Music for 1,000 Fingers: Conlon Nancarrow
Uli Aumüller, Hanne Kaisik (Germany, 1993)

For almost sixty years, Conlon Nancarrow worked diligently in a secluded studio in Mexico City. Amidst his antique player pianos, massive library, and growing collection of piano rolls, this brilliant expat composer never faltered in his ongoing experiment with a music of such complexity it thwarted the skill level of most musicians. By the late 1970s, when Nancarrow’s remarkable music began to find acclaim, a small number of critics, composers, and patrons did regularly visit his studio, but none recorded the maestro in situ until Uli Aumüller. Along with Yoko Nancarrow and Charles Amirkhanian, and additional commentary by Gyorgy Ligeti, this crisp portrait shows us Conlon Nancarrow in his well-worn space of vigorous creativity.

Preceded by:
Studies on Nancarrow, #3C(Alban Wesly, Netherlands, 2008). A fragmented image resolves into wholeness as Calefax ebulliently performs #3C. (2:55 mins, Color, Digital Files, From the artist)

Followed by:
Nancarrow Player-Piano Study No. 7(Tal Rosner, Sophie Clements, U.K., 2007) Beginning with the notational image of a piano roll, this graphical landscape sensuously embraces Nancarrow’s ever-evolving tempos and timbres. (7 mins, Color, PAL DVD, From the artists)

In Person: Yoko Sugiura-Nancarrow, Mako Nancarrow, Trimpin, Charles Amirkhanian

$9.50 general admission; $6.50 for UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non-UC Berkeley students, seniors, youth, and disabled persons; and $5.50 for BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students. A special price of $7.50 is being offered to Nancarrow at 100 concert ticket holders.

PFA Theater: 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

----

Saturday, November 4, 7 p.m.
Concert: Rex Lawson, player piano; Chris Froh, percussion; Graeme Jennings, violin; & piano duo Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams

When magnetic tape recorders became commercially available after the Second World War, a small but influential group of composers seized the opportunity not just to capture sound but to manipulate it into a whole new sonic experience. Nancarrow's Piece for Tape, possibly one of the oldest pieces of tape, is an unfinished idea that the composer dismissed. Nevertheless, he sent a copy to Elliott Carter in 1970, recognizing something unique in its musical ambition. Here Chris Froh also performs a version arranged by Dominic Murcott for solo percussion. Graeme Jennings and Rex Lawson perform the brilliant Toccata for Violin and Piano. And Nancarrow's favorite composer, Stravinsky, is represented by Rex Lawson's playing of the composer's own rolls of Le sacre du printemps, performed for the first time in America by a single pianolist, rather than by two or three alternating individuals. On the second half of this program, Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo performs works from its project transcribing and performing Nancarrow's mechanical music.

$20.00, subject to change, available through the Cal Performances Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988 to charge by phone; at www.calperformances.org; and at the door.

Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley Campus: Bancroft Way at College Ave., Berkeley

Support
MATRIX 244
is organized by Lucinda Barnes, chief curator and director of programs and collections. Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra is commissioned by Other Minds in collaboration with BAM/PFA in conjunction with Nancarrow at 100: A Centennial Celebration. The MATRIX Program is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.

About BAM/PFA
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”

BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum’s collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.

Museum Information
Location:
2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue across from the UC Berkeley campus.

Gallery and Museum Store Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Open L@TE Fridays until 9 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; fax (510) 642-4889; TDD (510) 642-8734.

Website: bampfa.berkeley.edu

###