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eessex on 05/24/2012 at 01:50AM

Susan Alcorn plays Piazzolla + The Sleeping Utes and more

Susan Alcorn is a Baltimore, Maryland-based composer and musician who has received international recognition as an innovator of the pedal steel guitar, an instrument whose sound is commonly associated with country and western music. Alcorn has absorbed the technique of C&W pedal steel playing and refined it to a virtuosic level. Her original music reveals the influence of free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and other musics of the world. In anticipation of Susan Alcorn’s two day residency at ISSUE Project Room we’ve compiled some live recordings of past ISSUE performances and a selection of tracks from her albums. The first night of Susan Alcorn’s stay will include new arrangements of Astor Piazzolla songs performed with Ryan Sawyer, Steve Swell, Darius Jones, Michael Formanek, Maria Chavez followed by the world premiere The Sleeping Utes with Skulí Sverrison, Ryan Sawyer, C Spencer Yeh, Beverly Keys, Patrick Holmes. The second evening, Susan Alcorn (+)1 (-)1, will feature a solo improvised performance by Alcorn followed bythe priemer of (Minus)One, an ensemble curated by Janel Leppin, performing Alcorn’s original compositions featuring Janel Leppin with Eyvind Kang, Jessika Kenney, Doug Wieselman, Anthony Pirog and Skulí Sverrisson.

Buy Tickets: Here

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katiskelton on 03/15/2012 at 01:00AM

String Theories: IPR & The String Orchestra of Brooklyn

This Saturday, March 17, St. Ann's Church will host the second installation of String Theories, the joint partnership between ISSUE Project Room and the String Orchestra of Brooklyn that provides artists with an opportunity to premiere new experimental works for orchestra. This year's commission features works composed by Anthony Coleman, C. Spencer Yeh, MV Carbon, and Eric Wubbels, which is awesome, because for most of these artists this is their first opportunity to compose works on such a large scale (check out this interview with Spencer regarding the transition from solo and improvisational work to composing for an orchestra). I'm super excited to see what these guys come up with--what does Burning Star Core sound like with 10 VIOLINS? Will all the musicians be equipped with circuit-bent TV instruments? These and more mysteries will be illuminated on Saturday night. 

Until then, listen to this live recording of Katherine Young's composition from last year's program, titled Inhabitation of Time. Young is a bassoonist and composer who received an emerging artist commission from ISSUE last year, and this piece sounds like what it would be like to try to walk in a straight line on the quantum level--variables constantly shifting and rearranging, time stretching and compressing. What kinds of physical laws will this year's String Theories defy? We don't yet know. Get your tickets here.

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katiskelton on 01/19/2012 at 02:00PM

Ted Hearne's Gaudeamus-Award-winning "Katrina Ballads" and R WE WHO R WE

On January 25, ISSUE Project Room will inaugurate its new space at 110 Livingston with Gaudeamus Muziekweek, a four-day festival celebrating groundbreaking and challenging new music by emerging composers from around the world. Working in partnership with Gaudeamus, ISSUE Project Room will present, for the first time in the United States, a series of performances highlighting some of the extraordinary talent that has emerged from the festival.

January 26 is dedicated to electronic music, featuring Dutch musician Wouter Snoei, an authority on 192-channel "wave-field" synthesis techniques. New York-based electronic artist Matthew Ostrowski will also perform, as well as the duo R WE WHO R WE, a collaboration between New York composer-performers Philip White & Ted Hearne.

Ted Hearne was awarded the Gaudeamus International Composers Award in 2009 for his Katrina Ballads, a 65-minute dramatic song cycle adapted entirely from primary-source sound bites from the newsweek following Hurricane Katrina. Hearne chops and manipulates the utterances of politicians, celebrities, survivors and relief workers as broadcast by 24-hour disaster coverage and reworks them into an oratorio for 11 instrumentalists and 5 singers.  Take a listen to the multistylistic "Brownie, You're Doing a Heck of a Job" (culled, obviously, from Bush's famous declaration to former FEMA director Michael Brown five days after the hurricane ripped through New Orleans).

R WHO WE R WE takes a similar course of lyrical and sonic reformulation of popular media sources but reapplies the critique to pop music. Hearne and collaborator Philip White deconstruct songs by Michael Jackson, Ke$ha, Eminem and others and reorder them into schizophrenic lyrical poems. Come see for yourself (and check out our brand-new space!) on 1/26! You can get tickets here.

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katiskelton on 01/10/2012 at 03:00PM

Farewell Party with Jonathan Kane's February, Talibam!, MV Carbon & Tony Conrad

ISSUE is starting off the New Year with a change of scenery. That's right, Issue Project Room is moving out of our space at the Old American Can Factory and into 110 Livingston in Downtown Brooklyn. We've had a great run at the Can Factory, so we're going to say goodbye to Gowanus in style on Friday, 1/20 with a Farewell Party featuring Jonathan Kane's February, Talibam!, and MV Carbon & Tony Conrad. BUT WAIT: not only does this promise to be a killer party with some insane performances, but we will also be debuting February's first live album, recorded in a two-day event at ISSUE last year. Here's a sneak peak--check out "Blissed Out Rag," which, despite its title, is way more blues than rag (but it may be the first time that straightforward guitars-and-drums blues has ever been "blissed out," thanks to Kane's unrelenting railway drive on drums and four layered guitars), and get tickets ($15 | $10 members) for the party here.


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issueprojectroom on 12/28/2011 at 01:47PM

ISSUE Project Room: Best of 2011

Jooklo Duo

Some of ISSUE Project Room's best music performances from 2011, recorded live at both 232 3rd Street and 110 Livingston in Brooklyn.

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katiskelton on 12/15/2011 at 11:13AM

ISSUE Roundup 2011: Charles Gayle Trio & Acid Birds

We're wrapping up an incredible year at ISSUE Project Room by archiving a bunch of previously unreleased recordings of our favorite performances from the past year. Aside from two galas; four Artists-in-Residence; eight Emerging Artists Commissions; an amazing art auction featuring performances by Kim Gordon, Tony Conrad and John Miller; ongoing programs like Darmstadt Institute and Essential Repertoire; the landmark Minor Musics: Japan series; and the upcoming world premiere of Vidas Perfectas, a Spanish-language version of Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives (starting tonight through Saturday, 12/17; get tix here!); we've also presented dozens of performances of groundbreaking works by some of the most innovative composers and artists working today.

Let's kick things off with these recordings of Acid Birds and the Charles Gayle Trio playing some killer free jazz (one of the psychedelic variety, one disjunctive and spiritual) at ISSUE back in February, and if you like what you hear, consider becoming an ISSUE Project Room Member and receive a signed copy of a limited Acid Birds LP. Stay posted in the following weeks to find out what else has been going on all year long. Cheers, and happy holidays!

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andrewcsmith on 12/08/2011 at 12:00AM

For 1, 2 or 3 People

Christian Wolff's "For 1, 2 or 3 People"

ISSUE Project Room's annual Darmstadt: Essential Repertoire festival often focuses on works that are influential far beyond the audience that has actually heard them. This year, Ensemble Sospeso will perform Morton Feldman's marathon late work "For Christian Wolff," a three-hour duet for piano and flute, and Joe Drew of Analog Arts will give the U.S. premiere of Stockhausen's "Cosmic Pulses," for 8-channel electronics

In 2010, the S.E.M. Ensemble was invited to perform at the festival, and one of the pieces played was the austere and yet unstable "For 1, 2 or 3 People," by Christian Wolff (Feldman's dedicatee). "For 1, 2 or 3 People" is, in some ways, the perfect piece to be played at Essential Rep. It's a piece that leaves a lot up to the performers, even things that would seem vital, such as how many performers should perform and what instruments they should play. But on another level, it demands so much interpretation and creativity from its constraints: commands to make "a sound in a middle place, in some respect, of the sounds around it," or "a sound involving stretched material." Christian Wolff has had a long history of collaboration with S.E.M., and the performers (Petr Kotik, Joseph Kubera, and Chris Nappi) take to the piece with the same familiarity as most musicians bring to someone like Mozart. Their interpretation of the piece, then, really becomes a sure, confident one, which is something required for music that has the potential for such sparseness. 

And at the same time, the piece requires focus and sensitivity to the other performers—each page constitutes a score, and players perform different sections of the score simultaneously. A large part of the piece requires coordination among players, with commands such as "play after a previous sound has begun, hold till it stops." For 2 or 3 players, this may mean some degree of coordination; for 1 player, this may mean reacting to environmental sounds. Have a listen to this piece, which imagines its own world, redrawing the roles for performers and audiences.

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katiskelton on 11/17/2011 at 12:21PM

Everyday Experimental: Annea Lockwood, Alison Knowles, and bean sounds

This weekend ISSUE will feature a few awesome performances as part of our Everyday Experimental series. Drawing its inspiration from commonplace activities and inconsequential sounds of the everyday, ISSUE Project Room will present a series of performances and talks with Alison Knowles (FREE, 11/17), a new work by Moniek Darge followed by electroacoustic collaborations with Françoise Vanhecke and Graham Lambkin (11/18), and a sound installation by Annea Lockwood (11/14-11/19) along with a performance by Lois Svard of Lockwood’s Ear-Walking Woman and a multi-channel sound piece by Chicago based composer Olivia Block (11/19). Through an intergenerational dialogue, Everyday Experimental looks at the work of three historically significant female artists and maps relevant contemporary practices. A few recordings after the jump!

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peoplethinkso on 11/08/2011 at 11:38AM


As Issue's 2011 artists-in-residence, Prince Rama have harnessed the materials of time, place, and persons to crystallize their new UTOPIA. This September they further initiated their audience by enablement, providing them a hodgepodge of unmanned instruments strewn across sacred sand (yes, they imported sand into Issue!) and primal rhythms to provoke the everyman's urge to make music… together. Regardless of skill level or experience, many participates - including myself - found themselves immersed in a pulsing six-hour jam session of uninterrupted musical "democracy", or Prince Rama's UTOPIA of NO PLACE. 

This 11/11/11, for the third and final installment, UTOPIA = NO TIME (FREE | RSVP), Prince Rama will herald in the end of the world by way of karaoke. Using the number one hit singles corresponding with the dates of eleven different predicted “apocalypses” such as Heavens Gate, Jonestown, and Y2K, they will “chop and screw” the songs to a point beyond recognition and invite anyone who wishes to participate to perform the resulting pieces.

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andrewcsmith on 09/20/2011 at 10:00AM

Okkyung Lee, with Tom Rainey, Liberty Ellman, and Skuli Sverrisson

Photo by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Okkyung Lee, one of Issue's 2011 Artists-in-Residence, performed back in April as part of a quartet that also included jazz guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and drummer Tom Rainey. She's collaborating with the dancer Michelle Boulé this Friday in a free performance at Issue Project Room's 110 Livingston space in Downtown Brooklyn, in a piece called long white shadows (FREE | RSVP), where the two performers will constantly change their relationships within and toward the space.

A classically trained cellist born in Korea, it's not like Lee doesn't regularly work with jazz musicians. She's a staple of the New York free improvisation scene, counting as past collaborators Nate Wooley, Peter Evans, John Butcher (at Issue Project Room on 09/20, Buy Tickets), Tyshawn Sorey, and many more. But there's a certain vibe to this performance that distinguishes it from others, perhaps because the other musicians are laying down such a steady downtown-jazz-club riff that Lee's aggressive playing, focused more on sound than on groove or pitch, is almost out of place. There's a moment, about four minutes into the second track, where Ellman repeats a little lick and Sverrisson and Rainey join in, but then—what's that in the background?—a crazy, almost banshee-like scream that threatens to send this clean jazz groove off the tracks and into the woods. In most other free-noise improv settings, there would be a collective recognition and acknowledgement that things are now getting noisy and everyone would, somewhat safely, get noisy together. But something different happens here, which is that these two things—a steady post-bop jazz-rock groove and what could be Xenakis run through a half stack—coexist for a moment.

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