Steve Reich

Steve Reich was recently called “our greatest living composer” (The New York Times), “America’s greatest living composer.” (The Village VOICE), “…the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New
Yorker) and “…among the great composers of the century” (The New York Times).. From his early taped speech pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot’s digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Mr. Reich’s path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” states The Guardian (London).

In April 2009 Steve Reich was awarded the Pulitzer prize in Music for his composition ‘Double Sextet’.

Performing organizations around the world marked Steve Reich’s 70th- birthday year, 2006, with festivals and special concerts. In the composer’s hometown of New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center joined forces to present complementary programs of his music, and in London, the Barbican mounted a major retrospective. Concerts were also presented in Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, Baden-Baden, Barcelona, Birmingham, Budapest, Chicago, Cologne, Copenhagen, Denver, Dublin, Freiburg, Graz, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Paris, Porto, Vancouver, Vienna and Vilnius among others. In addition, Nonesuch Records released its second box set of Steve Reich’s works, Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective, in September 2006. The five-CD collection comprises fourteen of the composer’s best-known pieces, spanning the 20 years of his time on the label.

In October 2006 in Tokyo, Mr. Reich was awarded the Preamium Imperial award in Music. This important international award is in areas in the arts not covered by the Nobel Prize. Former winners of the prize in various fields include Pierre Boulez, Lucian Berio, Gyorgy Ligeti, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Richard Serra and Stephen Sondheim.

In May 2007 Mr. Reich was awarded The Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of music. The prize was presented by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The Swedish Academy said: “…Steve Reich has transferred questions of faith, society and philosophy into a hypnotic sounding music that has inspired musicians and composers of all genres.” Former winners of the Polar Prize have included Pierre Boulez, Bob Dylan, Gyorgi Ligeti and Sir Paul McCartney.

In December 2006 Mr. Reich was awarded membership in the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and in April 2007 he was awarded the Chubb Fellowship at Yale University. In May 2008 he was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

Born in New York and raised there and in California, Mr. Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Mr. Reich received his M.A. in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud.

During the summer of 1970, with the help of a grant from the Institute for International Education, Mr. Reich studied drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra. In 1973 and 1974 he studied Balinese Gamelan Semar Pegulingan and Gamelan Gambang at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkeley, California. From 1976 to 1977 he studied the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.

In 1966 Steve Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. Since 1971, Steve Reich and Musicians have frequently toured the world, and have the distinction of performing to sold-out houses at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Bottom Line Cabaret.

Mr. Reich’s 1988 piece, Different Trains, marked a new compositional method, rooted in It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. The New York Times hailed Different Trains as “a work of such astonishing originality that breakthrough seems the only possible description….possesses an absolutely harrowing emotional impact.” In 1990, Mr. Reich received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for Different Trains as recorded by the Kronos Quartet on the Nonesuch label.

In June 1997, in celebration of Mr. Reich’s 60th birthday, Nonesuch released a 10-CD retrospective box set of Mr. Reich’s compositions, featuring several newly-recorded and re-mastered works. He won a second Grammy award in 1999 for his piece Music for 18 Musicians, also on the Nonesuch label. In July 1999 a major retrospective of Mr. Reich’s work was presented by the Lincoln Center Festival. Earlier, in 1988, the South Bank Centre in London, mounted a similar series of retrospective concerts.

In 2000 he was awarded the Schuman Prize from Columbia University, the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, the Regent’s Lectureship at the University of California at Berkeley, an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts and was named Composer of the Year by Musical America magazine.

The Cave, Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s music theater video piece exploring the Biblical story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, was hailed by Time Magazine as “a fascinating glimpse of what opera might be like in the 21st century.” Of the Chicago premiere, John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “The techniques embraced by this work have the potential to enrich opera as living art a thousandfold….The Cave impresses, ultimately, as a powerful and imaginative work of high-tech music theater that brings the troubled present into resonant dialogue with the ancient past, and invites all of us to consider anew our shared cultural heritage.”

Three Tales, a three-part digital documentary video opera, is a second collaborative work by Steve Reich and Beryl Korot about three well known events from the twentieth century, reflecting on the growth and implications of technology in the 20th century: Hindenburg, on the crash of the German zeppelin in New Jersey in 1937; Bikini, on the Atom bomb tests at Bikini atoll in 1946-1954; and Dolly, the sheep cloned in 1997, on the issues of genetic engineering and robotics. Three Tales is a three act music theater work in which historical film and video footage, video taped interviews, photographs, text, and specially constructed stills are recreated on computer, transferred to video tape and projected on one large screen. Musicians and singers take their places on stage along with the screen, presenting the debate about the physical, ethical and religious nature of technological development. Three Tales was premiered at the Vienna Festival in 2002 and subsequently toured all over Europe, America, Australia and Hong Kong. Nonesuch is releasing a DVD/CD of the piece in fall 2003.

Over the years, Steve Reich has received commissions from the Barbican Centre London, the Holland Festival; San Francisco Symphony; the Rothko Chapel; Vienna Festival, Hebbel Theater, Berlin, the Brooklyn Academy of Music for guitarist Pat Metheny; Spoleto Festival USA, West German Radio, Cologne; Settembre Musica, Torino, the Fromm Music Foundation for clarinetist Richard Stoltzman; the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra; Betty Freeman for the Kronos Quartet; and the Festival d’Automne, Paris, for the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.

Steve Reich’s music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta; the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; The Ensemble Modern conducted by Bradley Lubman, The Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by David Robertson, the London Sinfonietta conducted by Markus Stenz and Martyn Brabbins, the Theater of Voices conducted by Paul Hillier, the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano; the Saint Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin; the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Neal Stulberg; the BBC Symphony conducted by Peter Eötvös; and the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

Several noted choreographers have created dances to Steve Reich’s music, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (“Fase,” 1983, set to four early works as well as”Drumming,”1998 and “Rain” set to “Music for 18 Musicians”), Jirí Kylían (“Falling Angels,” set to “Drumming Part I”), Jerome Robbins for the New York City Ballet (“Eight Lines”) and Laura Dean, who commissioned “Sextet”. That ballet, entitled “Impact,” was premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and earned Steve Reich and Laura Dean a Bessie Award in 1986. Other major choreographers using Mr. Reich’s music include Eliot Feld, Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Maurice Bejart, Lucinda Childs, Siobhan Davies and Richard Alston.

In 1994 Steve Reich was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and, in 1999, awarded Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et Lettres.

http://www.stevereich.com

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R. Murray Schafer

R. Murray Schafer is Canada’s pre-eminent composer and is known throughout the world. In an era of specialization, R. Murray Schafer has shown himself to be a true renaissance man.

Born in Sarnia, Ontario in 1933, Murray Schafer has won national and international acclaim not only for his achievement as a composer but also as an educator, environmentalist, literary scholar, visual artist and provocateur. After receiving a Licentiate in piano through the Royal Schools of Music (England) in 1952, he pursued further studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto, followed by periods of autodidactic study in Austria and England which encompassed literature, philosophy, music and journalism. A prolific composer, he has written works ranging from orchestral compositions to choral music as well as musical theatre and multi-media ritual.

His diversity of interests is reflected by the enormous range and depth of such works as Loving (1965), Lustro (1972), Music for Wilderness Lake (1979), Flute Concerto (1984), and the World Soundscape Project, as well as his 12-part Patria music theatre cycle. His most important book, The Tuning of the World (1977), documents the findings of his World Soundscape Project, which united the social, scientific and artistic aspects of sound and introduced the concept of acoustic ecology. The concept of soundscape unifies most of his musical and dramatic work, as well as his educational and cultural theories.

His other major books include E.T.A. Hoffmann and Music (1975), Ezra Pound and his Music (1977), On Canadian Music (1984), Voices of Tyranny: Temples of Silence (1993), and The Thinking Ear: On Music Education (1986). He has received commissions from numerous organizations as well as several prizes. He was the first winner of the Glenn Gould Prize for Music and Communication as well as the Molson Award for distinctive service to the arts. In 2005 he was awarded the Walter Carsen Prize, by the Canada Council for the Arts, one of the top honours for lifetime achievement by a Canadian artist.

Murray Schafer’s new creation (opera), “Patria 8 – The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix” was very successfully premiered September 13-16, 2001 in four shows, recorded by CBC Radio. Eight shows were presented from August 31 to September 10, 2006, in Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve. It was magical and beautiful (see photos and press reviews).

http://www.philmultic.com/composers/schafer.html

Pierre Schaeffer

The father of musique concrète, French composer Pierre Schaeffer was among the most visionary artists of the postwar era; through the creation of abstract sound mosaics divorced from conventional musical theory, he pioneered a sonic revolution which continues to resonate across the contemporary cultural landscape, most deeply in the grooves of hip-hop and electronica. Born in 1910, Schaeffer was not a trained musician or composer, but was instead working as a radio engineer when he founded the RTF electronic studio in 1944 to begin his first experiments in what would ultimately be dubbed “musique concrète.” Working with found fragments of sound — both musical and environmental in origin — he assembled his first tape-machine pieces, collages of noise manipulated through changes in pitch, duration and amplitude; the end result heralded a radical new interpretation of musical form and perception.

In October 1948, Schaeffer broadcast his first public piece, Etude aux Chemins de Fer, over French radio airwaves; although the public reaction ranged from comic disbelief to genuine outrage, many composers and performers were intrigued, among them Pierre Henry, who in 1949 joined the RTF staff, as well as future collaborators Luc Ferrari and Iannis Xenakis. (Olivier Messiaen was also a guest, bringing with him students Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez.) Schaeffer forged on, in 1948 completing Etude Pathetique, which in its frenetic mix of sampled voices anticipated the emergence of hip-hop scratching techniques by over a generation; by 1949’s Suite pour 14 Instruments, he had turned to neo-classical textures, distorted virtually beyond recognition. In 1950, Schaeffer and Henry collaborated on Symphonie pour un homme seul, a 12-movement work employing the sounds of the human body.

Working with the classically-trained Henry on subsequent pieces including Variations Sur une Flute Mexicaine and Orphee 51 clearly informed Schaeffer’s later projects, as he soon adopted a more accessible musical approach. Together, the two men also co-founded the Groupe de Musique Concrète in 1951; later rechristened the Groupe de Recherches Musicales, or GRM, their studio became the launching pad behind some of the most crucial electronic music compositions of the era, among them Edgard Varèse’s Deserts. However, by the end of the decade most of the GRM’s members grew increasingly disenchanted with the painstaking efforts required to construct pieces from vinyl records and magnetic tape; after later, tightly-constructed works like 1958’s Etude aux Sons Animes and the next year’s Etudes aux Objets, even Schaeffer himself announced his retirement from music in 1960.

Leaving the GRM in the hands of Francois Bayle, some months later Schaeffer founded the research center of the Office of French Television Broadcasting, serving as its director from 1960 to 1975; in 1967, he also published an essay titled “Musique Concrète: What Do I Know?” which largely dismissed the principles behind his groundbreaking work, concluding that what music now needed was “searchers,” not “auteurs.” In later years, Schaeffer did explore areas of psycho-acoustic research which he dubbed Traite de Objets Musicaux (TOM); these experiments yielded one final piece, the 11-minute Le Triedre Fertile. He also hit the lecture circuit and agreed to produce radio presentations. Pierre Schaeffer died in Aix-en-Provence on August 19, 1995.

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/pierre-schaeffer-mn0000679092/biography

Stephen Vitiello


From composing electronic music to scoring experimental videos to making larger-scale public installations that create immersive soundscapes, sound artist Stephen Vitiello invites his audience to reinterpret sound. He took us on a sonic tour of his work including recordings from a 1999 residency at the World Trade Center and his sound installation at New York City’s High Line, “A Bell for Every Minute.”


Sound Artist, Stephen Vitiello, encourages you to “close your eyes to watch this talk.” A talk of sound, he explains that your eyes process images more slowly than your ears process sound. Close your eyes and listen well.

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. It was filmed and edited by Tijo Media at the Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts Center in Richmond, VA.

#sound #listen #VCUarts #kineticimaging

Electronic musician Stephen Vitiello’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon. His exhibitions include a site-specific work for New York City’s High Line and the 2006 Biennial of Sydney. Vitiello has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fine Arts, Creative Capital funding for Emerging Fields, and an Alpert/Ucross Award for Music. In 2012, Australian Television produced the documentary, “Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent.” Originally from New York, Vitiello is now based in Richmond, VA where he is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Stephen Vitiello (b. 1964, New York City)
Solo exhibitions include All Those Vanished Engines, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2011-(ongoing)); A Bell For Every Minute, The High Line, NYC (2010-2011); More Songs About Buildings and Bells, Museum 52, New York (2011); and Stephen Vitiello, The Project, New York (2006). He has participated in such group exhibitions as Soundings: A Contemporary Score, Museum of Modern Art, NY (2013); Sound Objects: Leah Beeferman and Stephen Vitiello, Fridman Gallery, New York (2014); September 11, PS 1/MoMA, LIC, NY (2011-2012); the 15th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2006); Yanomami: Spirit of the Forest at the Cartier Foundation, Paris; and the 2002 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002). Vitiello has performed nationally and internationally, at locations such as the Tate Modern, London; the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival; The Kitchen, New York; and the Cartier Foundation, Paris. In 2011, ABC-TV, Australia produced the documentary Stephen Vitiello: Listening With Intent. Awards include Creative Capital (2006) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-2012). Vitiello is a professor of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.

“Electronic musician and sound artist Stephen Vitiello transforms incidental atmospheric noises into mesmerizing soundscapes that alter our perception of the surrounding environment. He has composed music for independent films, experimental video projects and art installations, collaborating with such artists as Nam June Paik, Tony Oursler and Dara Birnbaum. In 1999 he was awarded a studio for six months on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One, where he recorded the cracking noises of the building swaying under the stress of the winds after Hurricane Floyd. As an installation artist, he is particularly interested in the physical aspect of sound and its potential to define the form and atmosphere of a spatial environment.”

Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain catalog for the exhibition
Ce qui arrive/Unknown Quantity, 2002

http://www.stephenvitiello.com

Camille Norment

Triplight, 2008
Light sculpture
1955 Shure microphone, light, electronic components
Dimensions variable
Edition of 2

As a cultural icon, the 1955 Shure Microphone can be said to symbolize ‘the golden years’. In this work, the microphone housing contains a bright piercing light that casts a large shadow reminiscent of a metal mask or ribcage onto the wall. Periodically at random intervals, the light flickers like a bulb casting its last rays of light; it is the silent noise of social realities and the suppressed voice.
The glowing light and skeletal shadow cast by Triplight tell parallel stories of its time and mirror our own, beautifully revealing contradictions in the silent stutter of its unstable light.
The word ‘triplight’ refers to a trigger that sets off a state of alarm. It also refers to “trip the light fantastic”, a historical reference to a type of dance, and more recently a state of hallucination.

http://www.norment.net/work/objects-installations-ind/triplight

David Byrne


Playing the Building, Battery Maritime Building, New York, NY, 2008

Creative Time presents Playing the building, a sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of the building, is converted into a giant musical instrument. Devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

Some years ago Jan approached me through our mutual friend Anne Pasternak about doing something at Färgfabriken. I visited the space during one of my music tours and took photos so I could remember the way it looked. For a while we talked about an exhibition, and some other ideas, but for various reasons those didn’t happen. I seem to remember that both Anne and Jan suggested I do something that might bring together my visual art interests and projects and my musical background.

After thinking about it for a while and looking at the pictures of the space I suggested an installation that would produce sound and would take advantage of the fact that the institution is housed in a raw factory space — with exposed pipes, heating and structural elements (unlike most museums and galleries where these elements are hidden.) I also wanted an installation that involved the public, the visitors to Färgfabriken, so this would do that too. It would be more “hands on” than most exhibitions where one can look but not touch.

Here is my proposal:

A sound installation in which the infrastructure, the physical plant of a building is converted into a giant musical instrument. (I use the term musical loosely. It might not play melodies in the conventional sense… but it might.)

To create this various devices are attached to parts of the building structure — to the metal beams, the plumbing, the electrical conduits, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. No amplification is used, no computer synthesis of sound, and there are no speakers. The machines will produce sound in three ways: through wind, vibration and striking. The devices that are part of the piece do not produce sound on their own, but instead they cause the building elements themselves to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

It is a way of activating the sound-producing qualities that are inherent in all materials. The materials’ nature and form will be what determines what kind of sound they produce. Everyone knows that if you strike a metal beam with your hand you get a sound — well, this piece does a similar thing, but without hurting your hand, and it will be able to activate materials in different parts of the space simultaneously — something you cannot do with your hands.

Wind:
A blower forces air through electrical conduits or pipes, eliciting a whistling series of notes, depending on the length of the pipe. (The wind will blow through the electrical conduits by a small air pump. At sufficient pressure the air will cause the air inside the conduit pipes to resonate and produce flute-like tones.)

Vibration:
Machines attached to the metal crossbeams cause them to vibrate, sending out a low hum and throbbing sound. The girders can be made to vibrate using oscillating motors… and since the girders are of varying lengths they will produce different pitches and sounds. They will need electrical power and another cable running from the keyboard/switcher, which will turn them on and off. There will be maybe 4 or 6 of these units scattered around the room, some near and some far away.

Striking:
The hollow metal columns that line the interior of the space are made to clang and ping. These large iron objects can be struck by mechanical devices — solenoids — much like mechanical bell clappers.

The wiring and the mechanics will be plainly visible — no attempt will be made to conceal any mechanism or wiring.

Switches that activate these machines are triggered by a simple keyboard located at a central position (within viewing distance of all the machines and of the pipes or beams whose vibrations they control, so that visitors might hear what depressing each key does.) Visitors are invited to sit at the keyboard and “play” the building. Some keys might trigger machines that activate the specific structures gradually — a quick tap on some keys might produce no result, but a steady depression would allow oscillations to build up and a sound to emerge. A handwritten legend above each note group will describe which part of the building that note activates.

(Possibly the keyboard could be coin-operated. It takes a few Kr to make it active for a few minutes. This would emphasize the mechanical nature and place a time limit on “performances”.)

The machines that activate the pipes and crossbeams would not do them any structural harm or damage. There would be no danger to the building or the visitor.

DB August 05

http://davidbyrne.com/explore/playing-the-building

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller

Janet Cardiff
Whispering Room, 1991
Dimensions: variable room size
Duration: Looped playback of 16 audio tracks of various lengths (from 40 sec. to 3 min.)
Materials: audio, speakers, projected film loop

“Throughout the exhibition space are sixteen small bare audio speakers mounted on metal stands. The lighting is low. From each speaker a female voice is heard, sometimes conversing with another, describing events or actions from various viewpoints; observational, experiential, past, present, or future, in twenty to forty second segments. Each speaker plays a different dialogue. The story is unraveled by the way the listener moves from speaker to speaker through the space. Breaking into the atmosphere of quiet voices is an image projected onto the wall from a l6mm film projector. A film loop of a girl tap-dancing in the forest plays for 30 seconds and then shuts off.”
– Cardiff

http://www.luhringaugustine.com/artists/cardiff-and-miller


Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
The Forty Part Motet

The Power Of 40 Speakers In A Room
March 10, 20174:21 AM ET

In Wim Wenders’ wonderful movie Wings of Desire, angels hear what a person is thinking and feeling as they hover nearby. As angels move among people, voices come in and out of focus for them.

Janet Cardiff’s 2001 art installation “Forty-Part Motet,” which is now in its final weeks on view at the splendid Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo., does something similar. You enter the room and you encounter 40 speakers, arranged in an oval, playing a recording of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir singing Spem in alium (Hope in any other), which was composed by Englishman Thomas Tallis in 1556. The Tallis piece itself is for 40 male voices, organized into eight choirs of five singers (bass, baritone, alto, tenor, child soprano). Cardiff has recorded each singer with an individual mic and each singer’s part is played through just one of the speakers (which are, in turn, clumped into eight groups of five speakers).

You could opt to sit in the middle of the room and listen to the wall of sound created by the joint effect of each speaker, but you could also move about the room, angel-like, swooping down on this voice or that, causing through your action one voice to pop out and another to be drowned out.

In this way, the work invites you not only to enjoy the music, but to remix it, by sampling voices. It is an opportunity to intrude, harmlessly, into the intimate sphere of each singer. You can get so close that you can hear their imperfections in ways that get lost when they are subsumed in the whole — and that you could never hear from your seat in the audience of a conventional concert performance.

This slightly voyeuristic, eavesdropping quality is enhanced by the fact that the recording doesn’t stop when the singing is over. You can drop in on the different singers as they chit-chat and gossip among themselves.

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www.cardiffmiller.com