Fields of Sound
Presented as part of ARTSaha! 2004
3 September, 2004
At the Loft
Fields of Sound program invoked the aesthetic of the color-field painters of the 20th Century. Morton Feldman's application of tones relates very closely to the way Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline applied paint, and in the second half of the program, that aesthetic was embodied by the Ensemble who spread around the Loft to perform two pieces from Stockhausen's intuitive cycle, From the Seven Days, becoming living works of art. The concert also featured the world premiere of Johnny Chang's Modulations and Interludes.
Erik Satie, Gnossienne 1 (arr. R. Kamper)
Erik Satie, Gnossienne 3 (arr. R. Kamper)
Johnny Chang, Modulations and Interludes*
Erik Satie, Gnossienne 2 (arr. R. Kamper)
Morton Feldman, Score for an Untitled Film
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Set Sail for the Sun
Karlheinz Stockhausen, Downwards
* world premiere
Libby Barnette, horn
Joe Drew, trumpet
Scott Shoemaker, violin
Nestor Herszbaum, flute
Marcia Kamper, flute
Rudolf Kamper, trumpet
Paul Ledwon, cello
Tomm Roland, percussion
“I am burning to hear the music of the young Feldman -- I think it’s great!” is what Jackson Pollock had to say about American composer Morton Feldman. Feldman had close associations with all the major American painters of his time: Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Robert Rauschenberg. Feldman’s music is often refered to as the embodiment of the Abstract Expressionism aesthetic.
Like these painters, Feldman’s work focused on the ephemeral qualities of color. He often spoke of the way that different dyes in handmade Oriental rugs would cause slight imperfections in color. These imperfections caused “a shimmering quality” which Feldman expressed in his music. To create this desired effect, Feldman wrote delicate sonorities which rely on the fallibility of human performers to create slight imperfections of intonation.
Score for an Untitled Film consists of six segments of ensemble music, with an occasional cello solo, oscillating between 4/4 and 3/4 meter throughout the piece.
Johnny Chang writes:
As a performer/composer, I am focused on fusing the rift between the act of performance and the creative impulse - focusing on situations which draw together varying elements constituting Contemporary Music. Spontaneity, Process, Interactivity.
Therefore in composing Modulations and Interludes, I was interested in experimenting with the interplay of rhythmic patterns and of expectations created and interrupted. There is a strong connection between the cello and french horn lines and a high level of interaction is encouraged of the performers.
In the wake of a nervous breakdown, brought on by the dissolution of a marriage, Stockhausen discovered an “intuitive” method of composition and performance. After a four-day period without food and sleep, he sat down at the piano and played a sonority which he realized did not come from his own consciousness. He had tapped into another stream of thought, acting, in his words, like a radio receiver. The cycle of pieces which resulted from his discovery was the controversial From the Seven Days. Performers are given text instructions instead of notes. The instructions for the two pieces on tonight’s program are printed below:
play a vibration in the rhythm of your limbs
play a vibration in the rhythm of your cells
play a vibration in the rhythm of your molecules
play a vibration in the rhythm of your atoms
play a vibration in the rhythm of your smallest particles
which your inner ear can reach
change slowly from one rhythm to another
until you become freer
and can interchange them at will
Set Sail for the Sun
play a tone for so long
until you hear its individual vibrations
hold the tone
and listen to the tones of the others
- to all of them together, not to individual ones -
and slowly move your tone
until you arrive at complete harmony