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In Performance: Darmstadt – Classics of the Avant Garde (NYC)

Darmstadt “Classics of the Avant Garde”
Unless otherwise noted, all programs begin at 8PM

at ISSUE Project Room, 22 Boerum Place, Brooklyn
Ticket price $15 / $12 Members
purchase tickets

Darmstadt “Classics of the Avant Garde” curators Nick Hallett and Zach Layton announce their fourth annual Institute at ISSUE Project Room. This festival,their first at ISSUE’s new space in downtown Brooklyn, celebrates all of June as the ersatz new music history month in New York and draws on a wide variety of experimental approaches from the canon and current practice.

The month begins with an all-star celebration of Pauline Oliveros’s 80th birthday [6/1] and closes with Rhys Chatham playing his classic Guitar Trio (1977) [6/30]. In between sees performances of rarely heard electroacoustic work by Gordon Mumma [6/8], early minimalism from Gamelan Son of Lion [6/22], a composer portrait of drummer Kid Millions and his Man Forever project [6/29], an offering of music for strings and chorus for the John Cage centennial [6/9], and the world premiere of a new work for voice and ensemble by compositional linguist Chris Mann, performed by Either/Or [6/23].

06/01 @ 8:00pm
Darmstadt 2012: Pauline Oliveros 80th Birthday Celebration
Admission: $15 / $12 for members

Photo by Gisela Gamper

Darmstadt celebrates Pauline Oliveros’ 80th birthday with a program celebrating Oliveros’s diverse body of work and a handful of her valued collaborators, including Anmari Wili (piano), Jason Hwang (violin), Alex Waterman (cello), Fast Forward (percussion), Jim Alteri (violinist), and multi-instrumentalist Miguel Frasconi. The program includes For Pauline, Tree Peace, and Oliveros’s participatory Tuning Meditation.

A visionary figure in the experimental tradition, Texas native Pauline Oliveros came of age during the 1950s in the Bay Area, forming the group Sonics with Ramón Sender and Morton Subotnick, which led to the creation of the San Francisco Tape Center. Oliveros directed the center in 1967, where she composed pioneering electronic music including the piece Bye Bye Butterfly (1965). Her body of subsequent work includes choral and instrumental scores, strategies for improvisation, ritual-theater, germinal writings, explorations of drone, and solo performance with her accordion. Her Sonic Meditations of the early 1970s are widely performed and taught internationally. In 1988 she formed the Deep Listening Band after an experience making music with trombonist Stuart Dempster and singer Panaiotis in a disused water tank with 45-second reverb. Her musical spirit continues to perpetuate through her ever-growing network of musical collaborators and students.

06/08 @ 8:00pm
Darmstatdt 2012: Music of Gordon Mumma
Admission: $15 / $12 for members

Gordon Mumma with John Cage, 1970

Performed by Conrad Harris (violin) and Jenny Lin (piano)

Gordon Mumma’s (1935-) work employing electronic circuits into the creation of music led him to the practice of using feedback to modify sound, one of the first artists to do so. Mumma’s multichannel compositions have incorporated sculpture, multimedia, and choreography within an interdisciplinary spectacle. Mumma was one of the founders of Ann Arbor’s Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music, collaborated on the legendary ONCE Festivals with Robert Ashley during the early 1960s, played in the ONCE group and Sonic Arts Union, and designed an electronic music system for Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan. In recent years Mumma has focused on acoustic composition, although his musical studies were in piano and horn, and he has been a lifelong practitioner of symphonic and chamber music. This selection of pieces for violin and piano, performed by Conrad Harris (violin) and Jenny Lin (piano), is drawn from a wide span of Mumma’s career and includes electroacoustic and electronic works.


Suite for Piano (1958-60)
…jardin… (1960-96)
Threesome (1980-95)
11 Note Pieces & Decimal Passacaglia (1978)
7 Dedications (from The Sushi Box and Songs Without Words) (1990s)
Etude on Oxford Changes (1957-60)
YAWAWOT for violin and tape
COMITATUS 2 (2009)

Violinist Conrad Harris has performed new works for violin at Ostrava Days, Darmstadt Ferrienkürse für Neue Musik, Gulbenkian Encounters of New Music, Radio France, Warsaw Autumn, and New York’s Sonic Boom Festival. In addition to being a member of the FLUX Quartet, he is concertmaster/soloist with the S.E.M. Orchestra, Ostravská Banda, and STX Ensemble. He has performed and recorded with such artists as Elliot Sharp, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Jean-Claude Risset, Rohan de Saram, and Tiny Tim. He has recorded for Asphodel, Mode, Vandenburg, CRI, Lovely Music, and Vinyl Retentive Records.

Jenny Lin has been acclaimed for her “remarkable technical command” and “a gift for melodic flow” byThe New York Times. She has numerous premieres and dedications to her credit, and has worked alongside composers such as Jonathan Bepler, Cornelius Dufallo, Luca Francesconi, Jason Freeman, John King, Stephan Moore, Jim Pugliese, Frederic Rzewski, Elliott Sharp, Valentin Silvestrov, Salvatore Sciarrino, Johannes Maria Staud and James Tenney, several of whom have written pieces for her. She has collaborated with Jazz pianist Chris Wiesendanger, avant-garde guitarist Marc Ribot, trombonist George Lewis, and Wilco members Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche. Jenny’s extensive discography includes releases on Hänssler Classic, Steinway & Sons, Koch/E1, and BIS Records. She is the central figure in Cooking for Jenny by Elemental Films, a music documentary portraying her journey to the north of Spain.

06/09 @ 8:00pm
Darmstadt 2012: John Cage Centennial Concert
Admission: $15 / $12 for members

Photo by Rhoda Nathans

Darmstadt and ISSUE Project Room celebrate the John Cage centenary year with this program of works for string ensemble and chorus. The evening’s program includes Twenty Three, String Quartet in Four Parts, Hymns and Variations

Cage’s Number Pieces, composed during the last six years of his life, feature a technical specification Cage referred to as Time Brackets, in which short fragments of musical material are given to each performer who can flexibly enter and exit the overall musical texture. Cage referred to these as enabling a kind of “earthquake proof” musical architecture. Twenty-Three (1988) is scored for twenty three string instruments who each have their own chronometer and can keep time independently of one another.

Cage’s String Quartet in Four Parts was originally premiered in August of 1950 at the Black Mountain College and dedicated to Lou Harrison. The structure of the piece is influenced by Indian conceptions of the four seasons and associated each with a particular kind of force: creation, preservation, destruction and quiescence.

Hymns and Variations (1979) for twelve amplified voices is Cage’s largest choral work. Utilizing material from the 18th Century American composer William Billings (considered the father of American choral music), Cage used a technique of “harmonic subtraction” to produce a ‘sublimely beautiful series of long overlapping tones and empty spaces’. The inspiration behind this technique could be traced to the “erased De Koonings” of Cage’s longtime associate Robert Rauschenberg.

The String Orchestra of Brooklyn is a close-knit group of musicians dedicated to exploring the breadth of the string repertoire, from the concerti of Bach to the latest experimental works by emerging composers. The orchestra also frequently invites its fellow wind, brass and percussion colleagues to join them for concerts throughout the year. Praised by The Wall Street Journal as “[an] excellent orchestra” and by theNew York Times for its “vivid intensity,” the String Orchestra of Brooklyn is passionately devoted to sharing its inclusive approach to music-making with the greater New York City area. The orchestra also seeks out collaborative projects with other like-minded performance ensembles and organizations, including ISSUE Project Room, American Opera Projects, GHOSTLIGHT Chorus, and the Fort Greene Park Conservancy. Founded in 2007 by violinist and conductor Eli Spindel, the SOB has quickly become an integral part of Brooklyn’s vibrant musical community. Based at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights, the ensemble also presents an annual summer concert in Fort Greene Park, and holds regular chamber recitals around the borough.

Founded in 2010 by artistic director Evelyn Troester, Ghostlight Chorus is an elite chamber choir with 16-20 singers focusing on vocal/choral technique work, musicality, intonation and rhythm mastery, as well as creative improvisation.

Darmstadt 2012: Understanding Hardware Programming in Assembly Workshop with Tristan Perich

This workshop is limited to 15 participants

As the technology in our lives becomes faster and more complicated, our understanding of it has decreased, forcing us to put an implicit faith in its design, inner workings and safety. Composer and visual artist Tristan Perich will present an introductory workshop on hardware programming, providing an understanding of how these systems function at their lowest level. While Perich’s work aims to integrate low-level computation with traditional artistic media—compositions for ensemble with 1-bit electronics or audio art installations—this workshop intends to teach a basic understanding of Assembly, a low-level programming language that drives most hardware at the lowest level. The workshop is intended for those with a basic understanding of computer programming, though it is not necessary. Participants will learn how to program an Amtel microprocessor, a low-cost, highly versatile microchip similar to those used in Arduino boards and in Perich’s own popular artwork 1-Bit Symphony.

Tristan Perich’s work is inspired by the aesthetic simplicity of math, physics and code. The WIRE Magazine describes his compositions as “an austere meeting of electronic and organic.” 1-Bit Music, his 2004 release, was the first album ever released as a microchip, programmed to synthesize his electronic composition live. His latest circuit album, 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe, 2010) has received critical acclaim, called “sublime” (New York Press), and the Wall Street Journal said “its oscillations have an intense, hypnotic force and a surprising emotional depth.” His award winning work coupling 1-bit electronics with traditional forms in both music (Active Field, Observations) and visual art (Machine Drawings, Microtonal Wall) has been presented around the world, from Sonar and Ars Electronica to the Whitney Museum and bitforms gallery. He was the recipient of a 2011 NYFA Fellowship in Digital Electronic Arts, and a 2009 Award of Distinction from the Prix Ars Electronica.

Tristan Perich is a 2011 Artists’ Fellowship recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). This presentation is cosponsored by Artists & Audiences Exchange, a public program Administered by NYFA with leadership support from the New York State Council on the Arts.

06/22 @ 8:00pm
Darmstadt 2012: Gamelan Son Of Lion: The Braid Pieces of Barbara Benary and other works
Admission: $15 / $12 for members


With Barbara Benary, David Demnitz, Daniel Goode, Lisa Karrer, Jody Kruskal, Skip LaPlante, Laura Liben, Larry Simon, David Simons and pianist Lois Anderson.

Barbara Benary: The Braid Pieces, Aural Shoehorning
David Demnitz: Either/Or-Or/Either
Philip Corner: Gamelan Adagio
Daniel Goode: Hear the Sound of Random Numbers

“Between 1974 and 1980, [Benary wrote] a series of Braid pieces for gamelan: Braid Piece, Sleeping Braid,Counter-Braid, Macramé, and others. Pretty, slowly changing, steady in momentum, these are more note-specific, based on a diatonic progression of 14 pitches in alternating intervals—F# B A D C# F# E A G C# B E D G (F#). They involve performers playing the bells of the gamelan in interlocking rhythmic patterns, sometimes proceeding through the pitch-braid at their own pace, sometimes with added free melody, canons, and text. They set the pattern for Benary’s music of an underlying static or cyclic structure around which other elements are entwined. In fact, she is one of those composers whose music seems generated by a single archetype, the way Oliveros’s music stems from the breath, Xenakis’s from noise, Lois Vierk’s from the glissando. The braid—with its elements ever reappearing, twining around one another, recurring within orderly process—is a good image to keep in mind through all of Benary’s music.”
—Kyle Gann

Gamelan Son of Lion is a repertory ensemble based in downtown New York specializing in contemporary music written for the instruments of the Javanese gamelan. Having performed continuously since 1976, GSOL now rates among the oldest of American gamelan ensembles. The ensemble was begun by a core group of composers: Barbara Benary, Daniel Goode, and Philip Corner. More than a hundred pieces have been premiered by the ensemble since its inception. Gamelan Son of Lion is organized as a not-for-profit corporation and has been supported in its presentations by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, Arts International and several private foundations. The ensemble performed as guests of the Government of Indonesia at Expo 86 in Vancouver, Canada, and toured Java in 1996, participating in the Jogjakarta Gamelan Festival and the Borobudur Festival. More recent tours have been to New Zealand and Estonia.

Barbara Benary
studied the musics of India and Indonesia at Sarah Lawrence College and Wesleyan University. She has performed in the ensembles of Philip Glass, Jon Gibson, Alvin Lucier, Philip Corner and Daniel Goode. She received a Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in 1972 and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982 and 1993, alongside grants from Meet The Composer and the Jerome Foundation. Benary is a co-founder of Gamelan Son of Lion.

New Music Box interview with Barbara Benary:

06/23 @ 8:00pm
Darmstadt 2012: Either/Or, Chris Mann, Object Collection
Admission: $15 / $12 for members

Either/Or performs the world premiere of Public Works by composer, poet and compositional linguistChris Mann, commissioned by in partnership with ISSUE Project Room, on a program with new work by Andrew Byrne and Thomas Meadowcroft. Object Collection presents New York Girls, an exercise in extremes, and a fanfare for the dispersed. False pretenses, controlled feedback, plagiarism, and precisely-placed things. A performance for objects, voices, instruments, and video, it is developed from Object Collection’s March 2012 duo performances in Italy. Music composed by Travis Just, text and direction by Kara Feely.

Chris Mann is an Australian composer based in New York. Working in the unique field of Compositional Linguistics, Mann’s focus is on the technology and philosophy of speech. Since 1989, he has performed with Machine for Making Sense and most recently Chris Mann and the Impediments. He has been Artist in Residence at Harvestworks and RPI. His commissions include: Astra Choir, John Cage, Composers Forum, Paris Autumn Festival, Australian Biennale, Radio France, Ars Electronica, Radio Telefis Eirann, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, Revue Telematique d’Art Contemporain, Dance Works, Dance Exchange, Lingua, Art et Lectures, Abraxas, Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, la revue parlée, V2, Australian Network for Art and Technology, Goethe Institut, Shire of Healesville, Anzart, Christian Television Association, Commission for the Future, International Synergy, ABC Staff Union, Australia Council, Perth Institute for Contemporary Art, Festival de la Batie, Sprach Ton Art, Brisbane Biennial, BBC, Taklos Festival, ORF, Urban Aboriginal, American Society for Cybernetics, bobeobi, Adelaide Festival, Experimenta, Interpretations.

Either/Or is a cutting-edge contemporary music ensemble based in New York City. Founded in 2004 by pianist/composer Richard Carrick and percussionist David Shively, Either/Or presents compelling new and recent works for unconventional ensemble formations rarely heard elsewhere. The group draws upon its roster, featuring some of New York’s leading interpreters, in programming intense chamber music alongside larger ensemble works. E/O has performed to critical acclaim at Miller Theatre, Merkin Concert Hall, The Kitchen, MATA Festival, the Austrian Cultural Forum, and ICA:Boston, in addition to frequent appearances at experimental music venues such as The Stone, Roulette, and Issue Project Room. Either/Or released its first two CDs in 2011, on Starkland and on New World Records.Either/Or’s 2011-12 Concert Season is made possible by the generous support of the BMI Foundation, Meet the Composer, the New York State Council on the Arts (a New York State agency), Hester Diamond and Ralph Kaminsky, and by private donors. Either/Or is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Richard Carrick (co-director, drums), Esther Noh (violin), David Shively (co-director, percussion, guitar), Alex Waterman (cello, bass), Erin Wight (viola)

Object Collection was founded in 2004 by writer/director Kara Feely and composer/musician Travis Just. Based in Brooklyn, the group operates within the intersecting practices of performance, experimental music and theater. We are concerned with simultaneity, complexity, and radicality, combining dense layers of text, notation, objects and processes. Object Collection works to give audiences unconventional viewing experiences through a merging of theatricality and pedestrian activity. Their works upset habitual notions of time, pace, progression and virtuosity, valuing accumulation above cohesion. Object Collection’s work has appeared at a variety of theaters, concert venues, galleries, art spaces, and festivals in New York and abroad. Recent projects include a live, staged adaptation of Robert Ashley’s “Automatic Writing” (2011), and the live film/video performance “Actua 1″ (2011). Object Collection has premiered three original experimental operas: “Innova” (2011), “The Geometry” (with Jennifer Walshe, 2010) and “Problem Radical(s)” (2009). Their next opera is a film-theater piece entitled “NO HOTEL” and will premiere in 2013.

Kara Feely, John P. Hastings, Travis Just, Eric Magnus, Devin Maxwell, Tavish Miller, Daniel Allen Nelson, Fulya Peker

06/29 @ 8:00pm
Darmstadt 2012: An evening with Man Forever
Admission: $15 / $12 for members

Man Forever is the composition project of drummer John Colpitts aka Kid Millions, best known for his 15-year involvement in experimental rock band Oneida. This evening serves as a portrait of Kid’s work for Man Forever, an ever-growing ensemble featuring the contributions of a number of key players in the Brooklyn music scene, which will be celebrating a recent release, Pansophical Cataract, on the Thrill Jockey label. In addition to works for tuned drums, Kid will present new ensemble pieces for guitar and voices, and an interdisciplinary dance collaboration with artist Dana Bell.

In 1997 John Colpitts aka Kid Millions founded the experimental rock band Oneida in Brooklyn, NY. Oneida has released upwards of 20 recordings and has toured North America and Europe extensively. In 2007 Colpitts began working closely with the Japanese group The Boredoms and has performed their composition Boadrum in North America, Japan and the UK. In 2010 he recorded his first solo album and founded the drum ensemble Man Forever which combines carefully tuned drum kits with aggressive and powerful ensemble playing. He has also recorded and performed with Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, White Hills, Soldiers of Fortune, Jah Division, People of the North and many other experimental ensembles. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He was awarded a Millay Colony Composer’s Residency in May of 2011 and appointed to Millay Colony Jury for the selection of 2012 Composer Residencies, where he was named the 2011 Edward T. Cone Fellow.

Dana Bell
is a choreographer and video artist. As the director of the performance troupe Psychic Effects since 2010, her work has been presented at venues and festivals including Millennium Film Workshop as part of INDEX Festival, Secret Project Robot, Louis V ESP Gallery, Union Pool and The Schoolhouse. These performances have included dancers Meg Clixby, Kerry Davis, Talice Lee, Kristin Myers, Leah Retherford, and Cate Conmy and the percussion has been performed by Brian Chase and John Colpitts and Jon Lockie. Bell writes compositions and makes videos to perform alongside conceptualized choreography. Psychic Effects is the conceptual framework re-directing renowned painter and teacher Josef Albers’ concept in relational aesthetics between colors as a contemporary psychosocial phenomenon.

06/30 @ 8:00pm
Darmstadt 2012: Rhys Chatham, Extra Life, Neptune
Admission: $15 / $12 for members

Composer Rhys Chatham performs his now-classic Guitar Trio (1977), presented at ISSUE Project Room in partnership with Northern Spy Records. This performance will feature Rhys Chatham with nine guitarists, one bassist, and one drummer. Including Charlie Looker (Extra Life), Caley Monahan-Ward(Extra Life), Steve Gunn, Mark Pearson (Neptune), Jason Sanford (Neptune), Colin Langenus (Colin L. Orchestra), and Sarah Lipstate (Noveller). Full list to be announced shortly.

“GUITAR TRIO IS MY LIFE!” This disarmingly concise personal manifesto — bellowed by an ecstatic fan at the top of his lungs during a 2006 Rhys Chatham concert in Cleveland (the de facto capital of rock ‘n’ roll, of course), pretty much says it all.

Written in 1977, Guitar Trio is Rhys Chatham‘s signature composition, and with good reason. With a single, repeated chord, Chatham permanently altered the DNA of rock by splicing the gritty, overtone-drenched minimalism of John Cale and Tony Conrad with the elemental fury of the Ramones. The amalgamation was inspired. It energized the downtown New York scene throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, and made Chatham a founding father of the notorious No Wave movement. The influence of Guitar Trio spread even farther as former ensemble members carried its shimmering swagger into the rock mainstream.

Brooklyn-based Extra Life have challenged various underground circles with their dark, unclassifiable fusion of Experimental, Pop, Industrial, Prog, Classical and even Medieval aesthetics. The band’s dramatic sound, labeled by some as “Plague Pop”, has been called everything from “genius” to “pretentious” to “religious”. Extra Life was formed in 2007 by singer/keyboardist Charlie Looker after his departure from influential noise-chamber cult Zs and his brief stints with Dirty Projectors and Dax Riggs. After some lineup changes, the band gelled as a trio with guitarist/violinist producer Caley Monahon-Ward (of Snowblink) and drummer Nick Podgurski (of Feast of the Epiphany).

Extra Life has toured the US and Europe extensively, performing at festivals including Primavera Sound (Barcelona), Kilbi (Switzerland), Villette Sonique (France) and Moers Jazz (Germany), and sharing bills with Sonic Youth, Deerhoof, Sunn 0))), Owen Pallett, Xiu Xiu, Deerhunter, Lightning Bolt and Liturgy. By confronting both the so-called Indie world and the experimental noise underground which birthed them, Extra Life has built a devout international following of kids who refuse to take the easy way out. On April 10, 2012, Extra Life will released their third full-length album Dream Seeds on Northern Spy Records (US) and Africantape (EU/UK).

Neptune’s origins trace to 1994 as a sculpture project by Boston artist/musician Jason Sanford, who forged the band’s haphazard guitars and reluctant drums from scrap steel and found objects. Eight lineups, twenty-four releases and hundreds of instruments later, the band continues to wrench its sound spatter on self-built instruments to often confounded audiences around the world. In 2007, they released Gong Lake with avant arbiter Table of the Elements, home to art heroes Tony Conrad, Rhys Chatham and Faust. Neptune has shared the stage with a variety of influential artists such as The Ex, Mission of Burma, Ut, Oneida, Lightning Bolt, The Flaming Lips, Blonde Redhead, Melt-Banana, Charles Hayward, Liars, Black Dice, James Chance & the Contortions, Gang Gang Dance, The Dresden Dolls, Six Finger Satellite, and Wolf Eyes. Sanford and longtime Neptune collaborator Mark Pearson are currently joined by musician/instrument inventor Kevin Micka, redefining their music and creating new sounds from scratch. Propulsive percussion and sonorous electronics tangle with Sanford’s microtonal string creations with a refined minimalism, adding a new chapter to the band’s ever-evolving story.

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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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