Creative Independence Performance Series Vol.1
Ever Present Orchestra
Date: 1/April/2018 (Sun.)
Place : Kyoto university Seibu Hall
Ticket : add 2,500yen door 3,000yen
Student ticket : add 2,000yen door 2,500yen
As one of the most important representatives of American music of the second half of the twentieth century, Alvin Lucier’s pioneering work is most notable for making what is normally inaudible audible, but also for his very idiosyncratic way of making the audible visible or spatially tangible. Though the European style held sway during his studies in composition throughout the 1950s, from the beginning of his live electronic period in 1965 until around 1982, Lucier’s experimental compositions consisted almost exclusively of verbal scores. These were not to be understood in the traditional sense, as the codification of musical ideas, but rather more as focused experimental test setups that would reveal acoustic as well as acoustically generated phenomena. In a further development of his sine wave compositions of the seventies, Lucier’s period of composing for instruments, which began in 1982 and continues today, focuses on meticulously planned beatings that were first created in the interplay of classical music instruments with electronically generated sound waves. Despite a return to traditional instrumental techniques, notation, and concert situations, these compositions remain outside musical conventions and, precisely through the use of familiar instruments in familiar surroundings, illustrate Lucier’s radical aesthetic position. What especially continues to stand out is the consistency of his minimal aesthetic, with which he listens to “no ideas but in things,” in other words, the openness of the idea inherent to the site itself, far beyond the romanticism of classical art and conventional music. Indeed, Lucier’s experimental compositions are aesthetic reflections that are constantly making reference to the phenomenology of sound, as well as to the perception of perception itself.
Ever Present Orchestra
The Ever Present Orchestra is dedicated to the presentation of the exceptional work of Alvin Lucier. The orchestra attempts to make Lucier’s beating-pattern-focused instrumental music approachable to a wide audience with its uncommon instrumentation of four electric guitars, three saxophones, four violins and piano. Along with classical musicians, the presence of prominent Lucier interpreters such as Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, allows for the ensemble to appeal to a wider audience than the conventional contemporary music scene.
Bernhard Rietbrock – E-Guitar
Oren Ambarchi – E-Guitar
Gary Schmalzl – E-Guitar
Jan Thoben – E-Guitar
Felix Profos – Piano
Trevor Saint – Glockenspiel
Rebecca Thies – Violin
Christina Moser – Violin
Cécile Vonderwahl – Violin
Azat Fishyan – Violin
Valentine Michaud – Saxophone
Joan Jordi Oliver Arcos – Saxophone
Charles Ng – Saxophone
Bernhard Rietbrock – Ensemble Director
is a musician, producer, and research associate at the Institute for Theory at the Zurich University of the Arts. He is the head of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) research project “Reflexive Experimental Aesthetics after Alvin Lucier”. In 2016 he founded the Ever Present Orchestra of which he is the artistic director.
Trevor Saint – Glockenspiel
Trevor Saint plays new music for the glockenspiel. He performs the first solo works for the extended-range instrument, and works regularly and in various ways with composers Christopher Burns, Jeff Herriott, Matt Sargent and Alvin Lucier. He plays in Tanngrisnir, a duo with computer-controlled lighting and algorhythmically cut-up video projections, and Skewed and Such, a duo exploring the subtleties of resonant metals and real-time electronic processing.
Oren Ambarchi – Guitar
Oren Ambarchi is a multi-instrumentalist with longstanding interests in transcending conventional instrumental approaches. His work focuses mainly on the exploration of the guitar, rerouting the instrument into a zone of alien abstraction where it’s no longer easily identifiable as itself. Instead, it’s a laboratory for extended sonic investigation.
Program Ever Present Orchestra – Kyoto:
Bird and Person Dyning – Alvin Lucier
Braid – Ever Present Orchestra
Two Circles – Ever Present Orchestra
Semicircle – Ever Present Orchestra
I am Sitting in a Room – Alvin Lucier
Ricochet Lady – Trevor Saint
Criss Cross – Oren Ambarchi & Gary Schmalzl
Hanover – Ever Present Orchestra
Tilted Arc – Ever Present Orchestra
Bird and Person Dyning (1975)
for performer with microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers and electronic sound producing objects
On Thanksgiving Day, 1975, with nothing better to do, I spent the afternoon in the Wesleyan University Electronic Music Studio. I began experimenting with panning the sounds of an electronic birdcall between two loudspeakers. I had recently received the birdcall in the mail from sound artist Doug Kahn, whom I had never met. The birdcall was actually a Christmas tree ornament, a baseball-size silver ball, containing a sound-producing circuit, a miniature amplifier and loudspeaker. It emitted endless repetitions of a downward glissando followed by a series of repeated chirps. Kahn said he thought I might find a way to use it in a musical work.
I had also just acquired a pair of miniature Sennheiser binaural microphones, designed to be positioned on either side of a dummy head or worn in human ears, in order to make realistic recordings. By moving my head back and forth rapidly I was trying to produce short time delays or, since that seemed unlikely, perhaps I would discover some other interesting phenomenon.
At one point, as I was standing in the middle of the room, feedback started to sound. Before I could get to the amplifier and lower the volume control I began hearing phantom images of the birdcall, which seemed to come from inside my head and at the same time to be located in various parts of the room. They were amazing. Whatever these phenomena might be called, including resultant tones, heterodyne components or inter-aural harmonics occurring only in the brain of the listener, the results are spectacular. Listeners can hear them vividly.
In numerous performances over the years I have developed a simple set-up consisting of the birdcall mounted on a mike stand and positioned in the front middle of the space flanked by two stereo loudspeakers. The performance simply consists of the performer moving slowly around the space searching for phantoms. When I perform the work I usually move through the audience, toward the birdcall and speakers, stopping briefly when I hear heterodyning. I tip my head from left to right, to fine tune the results and move them to various points in space. The spatial relationships between the binaural microphones and the loudspeakers determine the geographical locations of the phantom birdcalls. I relish the theatricality of the situation. Sometimes the results are vivid — transpositions and their mirror inversions occur. At other times, however, the room just produces a few unwanted resonances. The performer accepts the task of finding the appropriate strands of feedback that create phantom images of the birdcall. The performance is not an improvisation.
Alvin Lucier: My affairs with Feedback . Resonance Magazine 9 (2), 2002, p. 358.
(Resonance Magazine 9(2) 2002/P.358）
I Am Sitting in a Room (1969)
for voice and electromagnetic tape
The idea for I Am Sitting in a Room (1969) was in part derived from Chambers, through which Lucier had discovered for himself that every room has its own acoustic qualities. It was also inspired by Amar G. Bose’s method of testing his company’s loudspeakers through a particular method of re-recording, which Edmond Dewan had told Lucier about in passing at Brandeis University. Simply put, the repeated recording of a recording in a particular space results in the resonant frequencies of that space being revealed. In the case of I am Sitting in a Room, the speech recorded at the beginning of the process eventually becomes unrecognizable.
“I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm,
is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not
so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have.”
Alvin Lucier: Reflections/Reflexionen Interviews, scores, writings 1965–1994 Interviews, Notationen, Texte 1965–1994 Second Revised Edition Zweite überarbeitete Auflage English/German Edition Englisch/Deutsche Ausgabe Köln 2005, p. 312.
Alvin Lucier：Reflexionen 1965-1994 Interviews、Notationen、Texte 1965-1994
Ricochet Lady (2016)
for solo glockenspiel
In Ricochet Lady a glockenspiel is positioned up against a wall of the performance space. As the player repeats 3 and 4 note chromatic patterns, the sounds ricochet off the wall causing the reflections to change character as they move around the room. Ricochet Lady was written expressly for Trevor Saint. The title of the work was inspired partly by Morton Feldman’s statement, speaking of his use of the glockenspiel in Why Patterns : “I didn’t have to be ashamed to make a ‘lady,’ so to speak, out of the glockenspiel.”
for two electric guitars
During the course of the performance two guitarists sweep slowly up and down the width of a semitone. One player starts on the upper pitch and sweeps down to the lower one. The other starts on the lower and sweeps to the upper. As they cross audible beating may be heard, gradually slowing down as the players reach unison and speeding up as their pitches move farther apart. Under certain acoustic conditions the sound waves may be heard to spin from speaker to speaker in the direction of the higher pitch to the lower. Criss-Cross was written for Stephen O‘Malley and Oren Ambarchi.
for alto flute, clarinet, english horn, and string quartet
adapted for the Ever Present Orchestra
Throughout the performance four string players sweep slowly up and down in a repeating four-strand braid pattern. As they do so three wind instruments sustain long tones against the sweeping strings creating audible beats at speeds determined by the distances between the moving string sweeps and the fixed tones of the winds. The farther apart the faster the beating. At unison no beating occurs. Braid was written for the Callithumpian Consort and has been adapted for the instrumentation of the Ever Present Orchestra.
for violin, 2 saxophones, 3 banjos, piano and bowed vibraphone
adapted for the Ever Present Orchestra
During the course of the performance 3 banjo players with E-Bows sweep up and down over a range of an octave and a sixth. As they do so, five instrumentalists play tones against the sweeping waves creating interference patterns, acoustical beating that occurs when sound waves coincide. Hanover was written for the Callithumpian Consort and has been adapted for the instrumentation of the Ever Present Orchestra.
for four violins, three electric guitars, piano and four alto saxophones
Over the course of 18 minutes 12 instrumentalists sweep up and down in unison, forming the shape of a semicircle. Bow changes and breath marks are indicated above the players’ notated parts. The pianist plays a series of tones at 1-second intervals, stepping up and down, tracking the other players’ sweeps. Semicircle was written for the Ever Present Orchestra.
Two Circles (2012)
for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and pure wave oscillators
adapted for the Ever Present Orchestra
During the course of the performance electronically generated pure waves draw two similar circles each spanning the range of 18 semitones ascending and descending from a center tone. Each circle lasts 10’30”. The second circle overlaps the first at 7:31″. The total length is 18′. As the pure waves sweep up and down players sustain long tones against them creating audible beating at speeds determined by the closeness of the players’ tones and those of the sweeping waves. The farther apart the faster the beating. At unison no beating occurs. Because the waves are continually in motion the beating slows down and speeds up as the waves approach and move away from the players’ tones.
Tilted Arc (2018) – world premiere
New piece by Alvin Lucier composed for the extended line-up of the Ever Present Orchestra including Trevor Saint on Glockenspiel.
The title of the piece is a reference to Richard Serra’s intallation Titled Arc .
Tilted Arc was a controversial public art installation, displayed in Foley Federal Plaza in Manhattan from 1981 to 1989. The art work consisted of a 120-foot long, 12-foot high solid, unfinished plate of rust-covered COR-TEN steel. Following an acrimonious public debate, the sculpture was removed in 1989 as the result of a Federal lawsuit, and has never been publicly displayed since, in deference to the artist’s wishes.
Concert produced by Antibodies Collective
Supported by Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland (ZHDK)・Kyoto University Seibu Hall Coordination Committee
Special thanks to SuperDeluxe・Embassy of Switzerland in Japan