American Festival of Microtonal Music, May 7-8, 1998, part II.

American Festival of Microtonal Music
MicroMystery Tour ’98
May 7-8, 1998
St. Pauls Chapel, Columbia University, NY, NY.

day two

Gong Elegy (author unknown) was performed by Mysterious Tremendum Sacred Tone Ensemble with Don Conreaux as gong master of ceremonies. A rather beautiful mysterious affair, very much like a ritual. A pair of monks glide in playing their instruments, a veiled woman sits playing singing bowls, a man in white appears from behind the altar and shouts while Conreaux in black and sunglasses swinging the gong around.

Mysterious Tremendum Sacred Tone Ensemble
Don Conreaux – gong, conch shell and horn
Randee Ragin – Tibetan singing bowls, ting sha and voice
Johnny Reinhard – bassoon
David Smith – vocals
Linda Wetherill – flutes, microtonal rods, voice
Andrew Salcius – cello, voice
Graham Hubbel – didjeridoo, conch shell, shakuhachi flute, harmonica, voice
Doron Yomtov – didjeridoo, conch shell, ney, bells, voice

Rebecca Pechefsky struggled through four of J.S. Bach’s Preludes and Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier in Werkmeister III. The performance was so tentative at first, Pechefsky seemed to either have a case of stage fright or she was sight reading the pieces. Towards the end as she gained confidence, the harpsichord started to slip out of tune.

James Tenney’s Spectrum II for wind quintet was a gem. Full of long droning tones, pieces like this are perfect for the resonant St. Pauls Chapel. The chapel must have a decay of 10 or 15 seconds making Spectum II even more lush then it already is.

Some people remarked later that the the piece “didn’t grab them”, “wasn’t as good as his other works” or even that they flat out didn’t like the piece. Nay folks, I thought the piece was beautiful. Very much in the relm of Morton Feldman or La Monte Young. The work used an 11 tone 19 limit harmonic just intonation tuning.

ratio 1/1 17/16 9/8 19/16 5/4 21/16 11/8 3/2 25/16 13/8 7/4
cents 0 105 202 298 386 471 551 702 773 841 969
Andrew Bolotowsky – flute
Ron Kozak – English horn
Michiyo Suzuki – bass clarinet
Johnny Reinhard – bassoon
Greg Evans – French horn

After years of hearing bad 1/4 tone music, neo-classical Cozenage by Howard Rovics was quite a relief. I particularly liked the up tempo last movement.

Andrew Bolotowsky – flute
Johnny Reinhard – bassoon
Judith Hershman – marimba
Howard Rovics – synthesizer

Johnny Reinhard intoned Harry Partch’s December 1942 with John Schneider playing his adapted guitar. It’s always a joy to hear Partch performed, but I miss hearing his voice. I look forward to hearing Schneider’s forthcoming recording of the piece.

Jon Catler’s Sleeping Beauty started with him playing slide on a guitar “prepared” with a bridge in the middle of the neck. He’d play the play behind this bridge and the vibrations of strings on the other side of the bridge would be amplified by the pickups. In another section, while the rest of the ensemble droned, Catler played arpeggios while he stood on a wah wah pedal. Not the wacka-wacka of Eric Clapton on White Room but a way of focusing the chord. In other sections, melodies more closely resembled the melodic material found on the Birdhouse tape and the Catler Bros. cd “Crash Landing”. The acoustic instruments really should have been amplified: Catler and ensemble turned in a fine performance that was warped by the acoustics of the chapel.

Jon Catler – electric just intonation guitar
Johnny Reinhard – bassoon
Young-Ling Chan – bassoon
Skip LaPlante – canon/dulcimer

Gong Elegy (author unknown)- Mysterious Tremendum Sacred Tone Ensemble
Spectrum II – James Tenny
December 1942 – Harry Partch
Sleeping Beauty – Jon Catler



Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.


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