Saturday, November 23, 2013



November 22, 2013
Seattle Modern Orchestra, Julia Tai and Jeremy Jolley, conductors; Bonnie Whiting, percussion
Open Form
Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, Seattle

Coeur pour Batteur - Sylvano Bussotti
Zyklus No. 9 - Karlheinz Stockhausen
Event: Synergy II - Earl Brown
Shendos No. 12 for Nine Instruments - Tom Baker
Event: Synergy II (reprise) - Earl Brown

Disclaimer notice: I was the lucky raffle winner of two tickets to their next concert, and Karen's name was picked for a second set of tickets, which we declined. Heads up to concert makers: bribing me in this manner is completely unnecessary, as is loading the concert with works written in my birth year. To the modest extent that what I'm doing here constitutes a concert review I'm usually pretty kind, and, I hope, mostly constructive. But thanks for the tickets. I'm looking forward to it.

Bussotti and Baker and Brown. O My! The patterner in me wondered how Stockhausen was included in this set of B names. Tom opined that perhaps there is an invisible B in front and we ought properly to say "B'stockhausen".

According to Ben Boretz, a score is a stimulus. It can also be a reproducible, portable, marketable artifact, culturally coded to stimulate, in a prescribed practice, a certain acceptable range of event outcomes. The musical work, then, is a complex set containing the score, the cultural coding, the practice, the desired event outcome of the score maker, the actual and postulated score-stimulated event outcomes, and the various webs of discourse, public and private, proto- and post-, pertaining. What is (or was) overtly new in these (mostly) historically significant open form works is a concern with the mechanics of scores as such and with the specific content of the individual score maker's desired event outcomes, but the resulting discursive churn focuses much more uncomfortably on cultural coding and practice. As musical works they function as questions about us, about what we do when we do music.

And what of the event-outcomes themselves? Bussotti, performed in Bonnie's riveting stage dialect, was a sharply delineated universe, vigorously explored, bravely lit. Stockhausen, splayed out and pinned down carefully across an 18 minute or so span came across as surprisingly rational and thorough. Interestingly though, there was nothing particularly unusual about the gestural or figurational content in either work that seemed to be tied specifically to their relative open-ness of form. I could imagine those gestures and figurations arising in through-composed percussion music with no loss of eloquence. This may stem from the fact that, at least in this performance, all that is open about their form was worked out by the performer in advance. She had many substantive choices to make, but they were all made by the time she began.

Not so with Synergy II. It is a box of parts and a set of instructions allowing multiple results. No two performances are likely to be the same (and these two were quite wonderfully distinct), and none of the perpetrators really know what exactly is going to happen until it does. This is by design, and Mr. Brown took a great deal of care crafting his material so that no part or set of parts could be complete in itself beyond the bare minimum individuation necessary to be considered as a part of this piece only and not as some interloper from music as usual. The care taken shows.

Tom Baker (on the right) with Stu Dempster (on the left)
 in traditional Seattle costume
Tom's (beautiful) piece struck me as much more like the Stockhausen, in the sense of being a thorough and careful exploration of something, but with a sense of lyrical wonder replacing the rational display. Where Stockhausen indicates salient points as though wearing a lab coat and expecting us to take notes, Tom's gaze pans slowly across a landscape, which would be blinding to see all at once, and which must be constructed in memory over time to be seen as the whole that it was conceived to be. It is shown little by little in a band tall and narrow. Once again the locally produced holds up quite well next to the more broadly established brands, thank you very much.


November 17, 2013
Sonata (Partita) in C Hob.XVI:1 - Haydn - Keith Eisenbrey

Confirming - still needs some work.

Selections from Wizard of Oz - Bellevue First United Methodist Church Ensemble (?) ca. 1965

Another selection from the trove of tapes my mom shared with me.

Banned Sectional 13 KEE NWM - Keith Eisenbrey, Neal Meyer - October 1985

Neal reads from Genesis, then skips ahead to Revelations. I read from Brecht.

Gradus 89 - Neal Meyer - December 2005

Among the more pianissimo of sessions, its patient attenuation expressing an impatience with music as usually expressed.

November 21, 2013
Gradus 182 - Neal Meyer - October 2010

Each widely separated (in register) pitch is its own theater, and each of their jointures also. Memory and regret.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

November 19, 2013
Gradus 237 - Neal Meyer

Lots of Gradus this week.

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