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10khrs on 11/08/2013 at 04:47AM

A Song Cycle in 13 Breaths: "Breathtales" by Ann LeBaron

On November 14 Interpretations presents the world premiere of Anne LeBaron's "Breathtails," as well as a handful of other amazing works - including the New York premiere of Los Murmullos, and the US premiere of Creación de las Aves, both written for pianist Ana Cervantes.

We have posted two pieces of music from Anne LeBaron, and we asked Anne a few questions about her career and the works presented on this concert.

What is the story with your new opera "Breathtails"?

Actually it’s not an opera although everyone seems to want to call it that, so maybe it is after all! We are calling it ‘a song cycle in 13 breaths.’ When Tom Buckner invited me to compose a work for him with my choice of text (living or deceased writer, or write it myself) and instrumentation, I immediately knew that I wanted the poetry to focus on the breath, and that the shakuhachi, with its haunting breath-infused sonorities, would be central to the ensemble. What a rare opportunity---a coveted chance to collaborate in a non-operatic context (and thus dispense with all the baggage that such endeavors can sometimes entail) and to tailor the composition for a singer whom I greatly admire. The choice of string quartet, to complete the ensemble, was made intuitively—a united front that would function alternatively and at times simultaneously as a foundation, a foil, and a Greek chorus.


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newweirdaustralia on 01/28/2013 at 07:00AM

A Wild, Romantic Experiment in Ambient Electronica and Post-Classical Forms

This week sees the release of The Pomegranate Cycle by Textile Audio on Wood & Wire. Woven from song, sound textures and fragmented orchestration, The Pomegranate Cycle is the creation of composer, mezzo soprano and sound engineer Eve Klein.

Since 2002, Eve has been working as a professional operatic mezzo soprano, electronic musician and academic. The Textile Audio project finds her working with scores, field recordings, and operatic-pop composite vocals to weave rich melodic soundscapes and textures that she describes as "unashamedly romantic". With a PhD in Music and Sound from Queensland University of Technology, and over 300 shows for Opera Australia under her belt, The Pomegranate Cycle marks the culmination of many years of explorations into the marriage of opera and classical forms with contemporary audio production.

An early work, Some Kind Of Mininova opened New Weird Australia's free compilation, Volume Four, and introduced Textile Audio to an audience who were among the first to experience Eve's unique contemporary Australian experimental opera. This was shortly followed by The Pomegranate EP on Feral Media, which featured early versions of tracks from The Pomegranate Cycle as well as a wonderfully sensitive rework of The Pomegranate Cycle's Demeter's Lament by electronic producer, Gentleforce.

In an interview with Eve in Cyclic Defrost, Melonie Bayl-Smith commented on the (then) work-in-progress Pomegranate Cycle:

"In a way, whilst there is a provocative electronic subversion inherent in the disruptive industrial clicks, blips and tears that punctuate the work, it is the sheer beauty of Klein's voice, heard against itself, against the samples and lines, against the disembodied choruses, that is the glue by which The Pomegranate Cycle is most potently held together. Here, at the point of Klein's voice and its placement in the structure of the music, are operatic traditions celebrated, challenged and reframed. This is contemporary music at its most relevant - it is simultaneously inward and outward focused in addressing the challenge of its existence and its capacity to produce something great."

The Pomegranate Cycle is now available as a Free Download on FMA

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newweirdaustralia on 01/28/2013 at 07:00AM

A Wild, Romantic Experiment in Ambient Electronica and Post-Classical Forms

This week sees the release of The Pomegranate Cycle by Textile Audio on Wood & Wire. Woven from song, sound textures and fragmented orchestration, The Pomegranate Cycle is the creation of composer, mezzo soprano and sound engineer Eve Klein.

Since 2002, Eve has been working as a professional operatic mezzo soprano, electronic musician and academic. The Textile Audio project finds her working with scores, field recordings, and operatic-pop composite vocals to weave rich melodic soundscapes and textures that she describes as "unashamedly romantic". With a PhD in Music and Sound from Queensland University of Technology, and over 300 shows for Opera Australia under her belt, The Pomegranate Cycle marks the culmination of many years of explorations into the marriage of opera and classical forms with contemporary audio production.

An early work, Some Kind Of Mininova opened New Weird Australia's free compilation, Volume Four, and introduced Textile Audio to an audience who were among the first to experience Eve's unique contemporary Australian experimental opera. This was shortly followed by The Pomegranate EP on Feral Media, which featured early versions of tracks from The Pomegranate Cycle as well as a wonderfully sensitive rework of The Pomegranate Cycle's Demeter's Lament by electronic producer, Gentleforce.

In an interview with Eve in Cyclic Defrost, Melonie Bayl-Smith commented on the (then) work-in-progress Pomegranate Cycle:

"In a way, whilst there is a provocative electronic subversion inherent in the disruptive industrial clicks, blips and tears that punctuate the work, it is the sheer beauty of Klein's voice, heard against itself, against the samples and lines, against the disembodied choruses, that is the glue by which The Pomegranate Cycle is most potently held together. Here, at the point of Klein's voice and its placement in the structure of the music, are operatic traditions celebrated, challenged and reframed. This is contemporary music at its most relevant - it is simultaneously inward and outward focused in addressing the challenge of its existence and its capacity to produce something great."

The Pomegranate Cycle is now available as a Free Download on FMA

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natewooley on 10/05/2011 at 11:15AM

Stick With Me, Sir, and I'll Make You a Million Dollars

The most dangerous man on the planet. ....Photo by Peter Gannushkin www.downtownmusic.net

There are a couple of lucky accidents in my life that put me on the path I'm on now.  That's the way life goes, right?  You bounce like a pinball around adolescence and if you're lucky you have an older girlfriend at some point that plays Meredith Monk and Bill Dixon records before you go to bed, thus cementing a positive connotation with all things avant-garde.  It would have been just as easy to latch on to the Yellowjackets or some non-descript R&B trinklings in a similar fashion and you are off on another road.  No value judgments about other paths, mind you, but I'm very happy that my shiny round youth happened to hit the paddles it did.

One of those lucky thwackings was my dad buying a bass saxophone and wanting to get a listen to what the damned thing was supposed to sound like.  That brought Anthony Braxton into our house and into my life.  The record was Anthony Braxton and Muhal Richard Abrams Duets 1976.  My dad was fascinated for about a week by the cuts with the contrabass saxophone, then this record somehow disappeared below the typical sea of Paul Desmond and Stan Kenton (standard listening at the time for the jazz minded West Coaster).  For my part, the version of Maple Leaf Rag that was the rest of my family's favorite cut never really did it for me.  It seemed like kitsch, like something that Peanuts Hucko would do to clear the palate in the middle of the Lawrence Welk show.  I was twelve.  I needed something harder.  After the obligatory week of no play in the house, I "appropriated" Duets 1976 and began to listen to 36-MK74-128 and Miss Ann so much that I think this may have been the first record I actually wore out.  The  funny thing was that the more time I spent with these two pieces, and Nickie and the graphic titles (which I can't reproduce here), the more I "got" the reasoning behind Braxton's inclusion of Maple Leaf Rag, and that became probably the most valuable lesson I learned from Mr. Braxton, when couched in broad terms.

The thing I learned was how important it was to follow your interests, to set up your own rules and follow them until they were no longer valid to you. Not to hide the fact that you love John Philip Sousa and Paul Desmond and Scott Joplin or, in my case The Band or Lawrence Welk or Harry Nilsson.  There was a generation of musicians growing up at that time that were, like me, basing their aesthetics on Down Beat.  This led to a very narrow view of not only what "jazz" was, but what "music" is.  It's so much easier to have someone lay out a history and an aesthetic for you, especially when you're just starting to learn. But, all of a sudden I was presented with a giant middle finger, a big "I don't give a fuck" in the form of this gentle looking man in a cardigan sweater and glasses that blew all of the articles and record review sound bites about "so and so being the next what's his name" out of the water.  For a Scandinavian son of two school teachers in a small town in Oregon that was bigger than G.G. Allin setting your school on fire.  That was the first and last moment that I felt I had been granted permission to make music however I wanted to.  I say that it was the first and the last because it was so staggering to me that I have never felt I needed permission from that point on to be myself.  This is the power of finding Anthony Braxton at the right time in your life.

I've been lucky enough to work with Mr. Braxton for about 6 or 7 years now, and although usually I've found that meeting your hero is a bittersweet experience, my time in Braxton's world has always been positive, instructive, and has done nothing but reaffirm my love of art that follows its true interests and its own rules.  One of the things I hear him tell the people in his groups is that "if you stick with me, sir, you will make a million dollars".  This is sometimes told in the negative, in that you will LOSE a million dollars.  It's a joke, of course.  A lot of musicians, especially those on the fringe, joke like this, but with a guy like Braxton, there is something important in the flippancy with which he tells it.  You COULD make a million dollars.  You could make it doing any number of things, even related to music, but if you don't put it back into something you believe in, something that is yourself, your own strange amalgam of interests and aesthetics, then it's worthless. 

So, this is just an introduction.  It's timely, of course, because Anthony is presenting new and old music at a festival at the brand new Roulette space starting on Wednesday October 5th and finishing Saturday October 8th with a reading from the newest opera in his Trillium series.  DRAM is proud to present the Tricentric Foundation Archive as a part of its holdings featuring the releases from the mighty back catalog of Braxton House and New Braxton House.  For those not able to access DRAM, you can also become a subscriber to and member of the Tricentric Foundation, where you can get downloads of these records as well as bootleg (yes, bootleg!) material and monthly downloads of recent works!

 


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natewooley on 08/19/2011 at 04:39PM

Appreciating the Open Space

Benjamin Boretz and Mary Lee Roberts of the Open Space

We're in a golden age of listening right now.  Of course, the dissemination of new music has been greatly broadened due to the ubiquity of the internet and things like Sound Cloud and Band Camp.  That's one level of the new model of making music, and it has it's beauty.  For some reason, whenever I run across a sound cloud track of weird prog rock from Italy or yet another dub remix of the Imperial March from Star Wars, I wonder if this is what someone like Cornelius Cardew or Hans Werner Henze (during his "music for the people" phase) had in mind when trying to connect with the masses through new music.  Something tells me that it isn't, but that they would appreciate it on a certain level anyway. 

The next level is the proliferation of apartment sized record labels.  This is a commitment.  This is about serious people being serious about serious music.  It doesn't matter if it's grime or dubstep or lower case or ultra-minimalism.  These are the believers, the proselytizers and the people that we need to bake cookies for and buy a beer the next time we see them at the local bar.  They are sleeping on boxes of CDs and LPs.  They are desperately trying to get someone else's music noticed by the press and the listening public because they believe in it and think you should too. If there is anything that even begins to make up for the amount of my time the internet has wasted, the fact that it is easier for these people to exist has more than made up for it.

But, this post is about the OGs...the original proselytizers and educators, some who have stuck in there for years, bringing those that find their way to them a little joy and something new to think about...these are labels like Pogus, Mode, XI, Lovely Music, CRI, New World, Aum Fidelity, Tzadik, Intransitive, Broken Research, and the list goes on and on.  Some have sadly fallen to the dust, but others are going strong.  All of them existed before owning a label was easy and cool.

The Open Space is one such label.  Run alongside a publishing concern of the same name, Open Space has consistently had the good faith, courage, and audacity to produce music 99.9% of even the experimental labels active even now would most likely deem "marginal".  Note that "marginal" does not mean "unimportant".  When I began at DRAM, this label was a complete mystery to me.  The covers were very plain: white background, black lettering with the names of the composers and compositions on the cover.  I was attracted to them in the same way I was originally attracted to the simplicity of old Jandek LP covers.  I started diving in and listening to the pieces.  I didn't like them all.  That's easy to admit for any label.  However, there was an excitement of knowing you were going to get something new and fresh, something to think about and argue with your friends over in our cubicles.  That excites me. That's what music should do, right?  Well, the Open Space is doing it.

I was lucky enough to speak with Benjamin Boretz, who runs the label and whose music is featured prominently (as is J.K. Randall among others).  He was able to give me a very succinct philosophical synopsis of the way the Open Space works, and I think it makes more sense to leave you with that and a very generous playlist of some of my favorite pieces from the label, then to add any more of my memory and coloring to the proceeding.  I will say this though;

Open Space and labels like it....new and old....deserve your respect and attention.  They have a lot to offer.  I know FMA is the digital choir loft that I'm preaching too, but even us heavily enlightened types can forget to say thank you to the people that fill our ears with wonder sometimes.

OPEN SPACE Publications, and THE OPEN SPACE Magazine, are output from a community for people who need to explore or expand the limits of their expressive worlds, to extend or dissolve the boundaries among their expressive-language practices, to experiment with the forms or subjects of thinking or making or performing in the context of creative phenomena.

We want to create a hospitable space for texts which, in one way or another, might feel somewhat marginal — or too 'under construction' — for other, kindred publications.

The people who populate our contributing/editing/reading/listening community are composers (in whatever medium), performers, historians, ethnologists, theorists, critics, philosophers, scholars and seekers of any kind who feel drawn to participate with us in scouting expressive frontiers. We hope you'll want to join this exchange.

-Benjamin Boretz


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