American Festival of Microtonal Music

American Festival of Microtonal Music
MicroMay ’99
May 27, 1999
Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel
Review #2
by David Beardsley

Finale highlights

The combined tone colors of Anastasia Solberg’s viola and Greg Evans French Horn filled Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel with Anton Rovner’s quarter tone Appel a deux. A dense rich work by this new microtonalist.

The next set was performed by the virtuoso AFMM quartet of Andrew Bolotowsky, flute, Michiyo Suzuki, clarinet, Anastasia Solberg, viola and AFMM director Johnny Reinhard, bassoon. Four works, spanning almost a thousand years and showing extreme tuning techniques. From the anonymous Pythagorean Hymnus und Organum (1000) and Coimbra Manuscript (1500) to the more recent Free Music, V.2 (Percy Granger, 1939) and the more extreme 31tet of Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s Etude Ultracromatique (1959) – this was an amazingly twisted programing decision. Also very good programing decision!

An early Harry Partch piece, Potion Scene (1931) was expertly performed by soprano Meredith Borden and violist Solberg. An amazing performance, there was no doubt that this was Partch! Originaly written during the same period as the Li Po songs for vocalist Rudolphine Radil, Partch rarely performed or even recorded this setting from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

A solo bassoon piece in 48tet for master bassoonist Johnny Reinhard by Joseph Person slid around target pitches and microtones hung in space due to the resonant ambience of St. Pauls. I hope this piece remains in Reinhard’s solo repertoire, I’d like to hear it again and it deserves to be heard again.

Finally, AFMM regular Skip LaPlante, tuned percussion performed Camping in the Backyard, a five movement 17tet masterpiece. Joining LaPlante, Bolotowsky and Reinhard was Mathew Fields on string bass. A joyous romp around the yard, my favorite was Raunchy Blues.

Lastly, I’d like to point out the amazing musicanship displayed by the AFMM musicans. Every year they effortlessly perform a stylistically wide range of music in a wide range or tunings. From alternate equal temperaments (today’s 17, 24, 31, 48) to the whole number ratios of just intonation (Partch’s 43 tones) and beyond, they make performing this music accurately seem easy.

I’m already looking forward to this falls AFMM Orchestral performances in October 1999.


Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.

American Festival of Microtonal Music
MicroMay ’99
May 23rd, 1999
NYU Physics Auditorium


by David Beardsley
Highlights from a great but a long festival…

Eric Nauman & Douglas Cohen’s performance of three of six/lander, waltz, cha-cha/two people /break/six minutes/continue: Eric fading in guitar chords with one hand, flipping index cards with the other while Douglas provided an ambient soundscape from a laptop computer. Cohen ended the piece by closing the screen to his computer like closing a piano keyboard lid. My only complaint is that the piece didn’t last for an hour or so. Yep!

Michiyo Suziki performed Joji Yausa’s Solitude – everything this clarinetist performs turns to gold. Amazing.

John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano was performed by Joshua Pierce. After all the recordings I’ve heard on large grand pianos, this sounded a bit different. But Pierce’s performance on the halls resident piano still impressed me, the preparations still resonated true.

Violetta Dinescu’s Intarsien performed by Thomas Rutishauser on cello with wild glissando and percussive tapping on the instrument. Why isn’t this composer’s work more widely performed??? Shouldn’t there be a festival devoted to Dinescu’s work?

Sasha Bagdanowitch performed his An Ocean Walks Behind a Lake. Wearing a headphone/microphone/wireless combination, he sang and danced along with his pre-recorded singing Sashas on pre-recorded tape for about 20 min. Oh, those pure intervals sung by voices! An original vision influenced by the east, Sasha deserves wider exposure.

Johnny Reinhard rolled out a version of his solo Zanzibar, now a duet for two bassoons. Yung-Ling Chang accompanied JR in assembling the instruments while using extended techniques to give life to the piece. NYC’s downtown music crowd don’t know what they’re missing – the multiphonics, the extended techniques!

Meredith Borden of NYC’s hardest working microtonal band Birdhouse, performed her Icarus Dreams for voice and autoharp in just intonation. As always, amazing range and a sensitivity to pitch made this piece work beyond any expectations. Knocked me out – she used some techniques that I don’t think I’ve heard her use before. Amen!

Four keyboards and three percussionists gave life to composer Patrick Grant’s Everything Distinct: Everything the Same. Keyboards tuned to a gamalan tuning, in fact the piece seems to be influenced by the gamelan of Bali – I was blown away. It’s so exciting to hear this music live.

Eric Ross and David Simmons – theremin Vito Ricci – wrench guitar Johnny Reinhard – bassoon performed an improvisation Spring, where each performer represented a season. I had trouble separating the seasons but no trouble enjoying the collected improvisations of this seasoned quartet.

And those are only the highlights, I couldn’t hear everything, couldn’t sit all the time, had to get up, stretch and get fresh air.

Much credit goes to Johnny Reinhard – for making it all happen, Ted Coons, President AFMM and Professor of Psychology at NYU for getting us the hall, Patrick Grant for provding a sound system and expert sound check advice.

And I really enjoyed performing my piece Sonic Bloom at the festival. A privilege.


Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.

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.

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

day one

Dubbed “MicroMystery Tour ’98” by festival director and founder Johnny Reinhard, this years American Festival of Microtonal Music festival was held at New York’s Columbia University, St. Paul’s Chapel. Microtonal are the intervals smaller than a half step and every year the festival spotlights microtonal music from around the world. In contrast to recent years, most of this years pieces were in just intonation – intervals of whole number ratios.

Atom Turning In The Heart Of The Sun by Sasha Bogdanowitch was a half hour epic journey. Sasha sang in an expressive invented language, danced across and around the musicians while he illustrated his tale. In a 20 tone 7 limit tuning in various instrumental combinations the musicians provided a backdrop for his performance. Extensive studies in eastern musical traditions like gamelan and North Indian singing as well as Western composition show as influences in the work. I’m *just* a sucker for the instrumentation and this is the one piece that totally knocked me out this year.

Sasha Bogdonowitch – voice
Elizabeth Panzer – harps
John Schneider – just intonation guitar
Judith Hershman – just intonation marimba
Andrew Bolotowsky – flute
Jennifer Devore – cello
Johnny Reinhard – conductor

Virgil Moorfield’s (Slight Return) tread the same territory as his Tzadik release “The Temperature in Hell is Over Three Thousand Degrees”. Using a 48 tone equal temperament tuning in a “coloristic” way, he still attacks the keyboard like the drummer he is. The band was in attack mode too: Cellist David Eggar and violinist Tom Chiu aggressively bowed their instruments, guitarist Evans Wohlforth played lines full of large interval jumps. At one point, Eggar picked up a bass guitar and after a burst of dissonance, proceeded to bow the instrument with an ebow and tune the strings down. By the end of the work, the whole band was bending notes, unwinding strings, sliding all over the place. Before performing the piece with his ensemble, the composer informed us that although the he was going to explore a psychoacoustic phenomenon called Just Noticeable Difference, the piece was really inspired by a beetle that flew into his ear once.

Virgil Moorfield Ensemble:
Tom Chiu – violin
David Eggar – cello
Evans Wohlforth – guitar
Tim Otto – baritone saxophone
Virgil Moorfield – synthesizer

John Schneider played Lou Harrison’s Suite #2 for Guitar. Each of the five movements required a different tuning. Schneider handled this with two guitars, one with interchangeable fingerboards. Suite #2 for Guitar is related to the Suite #2 on the Just West Coast cd – Threnody and Waltz for Evelyn are the common movements. As always, Harrison’s music is a joy to hear, much of his music is lush and beautiful and stylistically is influenced by both European and Asian music. Schneider, of course, did extreme justice to the music.
Schneider also performed his arrangement of Fratres by Arvo Pärt, was rearranged for viola, guitar and cello in just intonation. With the trio spread out a bit – the cello drone was a few feet back , the musicans arranged in a diamond – the chapel bounced back a lot of the pitch creating a shimmering cloud of meditation.

Anastasia Solberg – viola
John Schneider – just intonation guitar
Jennifer Devore – cello

Rumanian composer Violeta Dinescu’s Din Cinpoiu was performed on viola by Anastasia Solberg. Spikey post-classical modern music. Quarter tones. Yipes!
Like last years Odysseus Cello Concerto by AFMM’s Johnny Reinhard, Adam and Eve is a new kind of theatre. Musicans act out the parts and improvise polymicrotonaly all over the chapel. Of note:

While Paul Savior dramatically intoned the part of God into a microphone and guitar amp, ji guitarist Jon Catler picked a couple of chords for the opening section that made the hair on my arms stand up. Combine the sum and difference tones with St. Pauls ambience – there’s more then a few seconds of reverb there, the resonance of the room probably added a few extra notes – and the result is a dense consonant chord. The effect was so stunning that some listener’s later complained that the guitar was too loud. A tiny amp with the volume set to three: Lightweights! That was God talking, what did you expect???

Michiyo Suzuki was the perfect snake: crouching down, pointing her clarinet up, then down, standing up, wearing flowing legato clothing.

Christina Coppola, who danced in last year’s Odysseus as a Siren, returned as Eve. Her performance was equally expressive this year.

Tree of Knowledge David Eggar, cello wore a mask while abusing his cello and Forbidden Fruit Ron Kosak, english horn, skronked some serious harmonics.

Joshua Pierce produced rain by playing the inside of the piano. The inside of the piano is always fun and the AFMM director sez that 12tet is microtonal!

Tom Chui and Matt Maneri, violins talked back and forth as cats. Even as a cat fight!

A double role was filled by Skip La Plante: as Giant Sloth on double bass and Anteater, using a long tube as a bass didjeridu, pointing the instrument towards the floor, the sky, even the stereo mikes recording the entire event.

Johnny Reinhard as Adam, the dancing bassoonist. I realise that there aren’t too many bassonists that dance at all. In high school, I played bassoon for a few months before the end and there was a guy trying to get me to play in marching band! JR danced his way into history with his light footed performance and new works like this should be performed more often. Pretty funny too!
Of course Reinhard’s solo was mind blowing too. Dyads and triads on the bassoon. Everybody should do that kind of stuff on their horn.

Eve – Christina Coppola: dancer, choreography
Adam – Johnny Reinhard: bassoon
God – Paul Savior: actor, Jon Catler: electric just intonation guitar
Tree of Knowledge – David Eggar: cello
Snake – Michiyo Suzuki: clarinet
Forbiden Fuit – Ron Kozak: English horn
Fate – Frank Malloy, Orlando Colon: djimbe
Antelope and Sound – Don Conreaux: shofar, gong
Wart Hog, Kudu – Tom Horgan: contrabass racket, bass sordon
Birds – Andrew Bolotowsky: flutes
Cats – Tom Chiu, Matt Maneri: violins
Whale, Deer – Steven Antonelli: slide guitar, mandolin
Giant Sloth, Anteater – Skip La Plante: double bass, bass didjeridu
Rain – Joshua Pierce: piano
Punctuation – Virgil Moorfield: percussion
Set – Carol Lopresto and Orlando Brugnola

Atom Turning In The Heart Of The Sun – Sasha Bogdanowitch
Slight Return – Virgil Moorefield
Suite #2 for Guitar – Lou Harrison
Adam and Eve – Johnny Reinhard
Day 2 MicroMystery Tour ’98, May 8, 1998
Last years festival MicroMay ’97, May 16, 1997
Information about the American Festival of Microtonal Music:

db 5/21/98

Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.

American Festival of Microtonal Music
Day #4: “Spirit”
NYU Frederick Lowe Theatre
New York, N.Y. May 23, 1997

The fourth and final day of this festival started with Follow the Wrecking Ball, Wish I Thought of it Sooner by Virgil Moorefield. The first half of the piece featured a cello solo and the other had the band pulsating along in a minimalist fashion. I think the piece was in 48 tone equal temperament. World premiere.

violin – Tom Chiu
cello – David Eggar
guitar – Woody Pak
clarinet and baritone sax – Tim Otto
synthesizer – Virgil Moorefield

Dedicated to the memory of her late father, Mayumi Reinhard’s Near By Life was a deeply beautiful elegy. The piece was performed using the rich sounds of a Kurtzweil synthesizer tuned to the Tibetan tuning preset. World premiere.

synthesizer – Mayumi Reinhard

The close dissonances of La Ritournelle et le Galop by Pascale Criton were produced by stringing a 24 tone equal temperament guitar with 6 low E strings and tuning them 1/16th of a tone apart. The composition started with some close pitches then evolved to a point where the guitarist was sliding a chord up and down the neck while rapidly picking arpeggios and scraping one fingernail across the strings. American premiere.

96 tone equal temperament guitar – Wim Hoogewerf

I pretty much missed The Song of Songs – Violin Sonata #3 by Mordecai Sandberg – I needed to take a personal intermission.

violin – Tom Chiu

Another major highlight of the festival was the performance of Free Music for 4 Theremin by Percy Grainger. The Theremin is a rarely spotted in public alone, even rarer in groups. For this performance they were arranged so that there was one in each corner. The composition was full of the drastic dynamics and glissandi that this electronic music instrument is capable of. At intermission, I walked around, checked out the various Theremin and I could see that a graphic score was used. World premiere.

theremins – Lydia Kavina, Eric Ross, Bradford Catler, and Nicholas Brooke
conductor – Johnny Reinhard

Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s Chant Nocturne was a real treat. Using two pianos tuned a quarter tone apart and a violin soloist who ventures in to 48 tone equal temperament territory, it was a rich exploration of the possibilities of this kind of tuning.

violin – Tom Chiu
24ET pianos – Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas

Kyle Gann’s How Miraculous Things Happen used a 23 note 11 limit just intonation tuning. This new work is a bit different the Conlon Nancarrow influenced work I heard at Experimental Intermedia in December ’95. Gone are rhythmic ratios, now replaced with a more minimal approach. When is someone going to release all this on a cd? World premiere.

synthesizer – Kyle Gann

The collective improvisation More.Meat.For.Apes was performed by Harvard Project4NewMusic. Here’s how the work started: One person hit a metal sculpture while another tossed objects into metal containers. Pretty metal sounds. Then the joined two other performers sitting cross legged on the floor where they played portable cd players. What kind of material was on the cd’s isn’t really clear, it could have been other people’s work (like John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape series) or previously prepared CD-R material. What the audience heard was a nice post-industral, dark ambient din. The improvisation ended when one of the performers got up and started a series of boxes lined along the edge of the stage. World premiere.

Harvard Project4NewMusic:
Fleur de Vie Weinstock, Alice Liu, Kyle Lapidus, Ron Rosennian, Luke Fischbec, and Sasha Costanza-Chock

To end this marathon evening and the MicroMay ’97 fest was the Catler Bros. performing two pieces from their Crash Landing cd. Jon Catler’s Spiritual Brother is a slow modal rocker with lots of room for him to stretch out and improvise. Most musicians would cut loose and play lots of notes over the slow groove, but here he took his time and made every note count. In fact, at this point, Miles Davis would have been playing too much compared to Catler.

In contrast, Free by Ornette Coleman was a chance for the band to go wild. After the zany Coleman head, drummer Kane started tapping the idiomatically correct ride cymbal and Brad Catler walked the bass while Jon ripped on the guitar, slipping, sliding, playing lots of notes and rock ‘n roll feedback.

just intonation guitar – Jon Catler
fretless bass – Bradford Catler
drums – Jonathan Kane

My picks: Near By Life, La Ritournelle et le Galop, How Miraculous Things Happen and of course, the Catler Bros.
See you at the next microfest!

Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.

American Festival of Microtonal Music
Day #3: “Ear Garden”
Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel
New York, N.Y. May 22, 1997

Ear Garden opened with the minimalist classic “In C” by Terry Riley. This version was performed using instruments that are plucked: guitar, viola, harpsichord and kanon (zither). At times the music  seemed bathed in the reverberant space of St. Paul’s chapel, at other times, the room was heard more then the instruments. Probably the best seat in the house would be on your back, on the floor at the feet of the performers. The performance was beautiful, the effect of the chapel was nice, but it obscured the best efforts of the performers.
“In C in Just Intonation” was premered by the AFMM in 1988.

just intonation guitars – John Schneider and Wim Hoogewerf
kanon – Skip LaPlante
harpsichord – Rebecca Pechefsky
viola – Anastasia Solberg
pulse guitar – Steve Antonelli

Luc Marcel’s Beach Glass microtonalness came from harmonics and multiphonics on the bassoon and glissando’s on the strings. After the quiet moments of In C, Beach Glass was almost deafening. In fact maybe the strings over powered the bassoon. There was some fellow standing between the bassoonist and I, waving his arms about. Perhaps if I had a better seat, I would have heard the performance better.

conductor – Charles Zacharie Bornstein
bassoon – Johnny Reinhard
violin – Tom Chiu
viola – Anastasia Solberg
cello – David Eggar

Enbellie by Iannis Xenakis for solo viola was characteristic of the composer’s music. In fact, this version was more expressive then any I’ve heard before. Lot of hard bowing close to the bridge gave a dry tone where the tortured harmonics jumped out. A tortured lull in the storm? Alternately then, quiet high notes. My references inform me that this is quartertone tuning.

viola – Anastasia Solberg

Sophia Gubaidulina’s Duo Sonata for 2 Bassoons showed what a pair of bassoons can do. Quartertones, harmonic tunings and multiphonics. Quite the opportunity for circular breathing and the chords between the two horns were heavenly. I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it. Gubaidulina’s music never fails to surprise.

bassoons – Frank Morelli and Johnny Reinhard

Johnny Reinhard’s Odysseus Cello Concerto had it all. Odyssus (David Eggar) and his soldiers wandered around St. Paul’s chapel for 30 to 40 min. During their travels they discovered islands and strange beautiful instruments in different tunings: polymicrotonality, Reinhard’s term for using more then one tuning.

Where else can you see microtonalist guitarists John Schneider and Wim Hoogewerf kill a trombonist (Julie Josephson) with their guitars, tear off chunks and eat them? They offered some to Odysseus who politely refused with a shake of his head and a wave of the hand.

Lotus Eater Island (blown winds) was in one balcony while Aiolius (bagpipes) was in another.

Odysseus traveled to and from the underworld by sliding on his back across the floor under the piano.

At one point, Odysseus played some walking bass while his band of soldiers improvised some swinging microtonal jazz.

Two Sirens (Carol Flamm, Piera F. Paine) magically appeared in the pulpit and sang while a third (Christine Coppola) danced a wildly seductive dace to lure Odysseus.

No doubt Scylla and Charibdis (Jon Catler, just intonation guitar and Eric Ross, therermin) scared Odysseus and his gang half to death. What a racket!

There were many custom and/or rarely used instruments like 96 tone equal temperament harp, shofar, psalteries, just intonation pedal steel guitar, large glass bowl in G, bansuri and shakuhachi flutes, ocarina, bagpipes, tarogato, theremin, and conch shells.

My picks: Enbellie, Duo Sonata for Two Bassoons and Odysseus.

Stay tuned for more…

Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.

American Festival of Microtonal Music 
Day #2: “Jewel”
Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel
New York, N.Y. May 21, 1997

Day 2 of AFMM’s MicroMay began with a transcription of Andrea Gabrieli’s Vezzosa Filli, a piece for double quartet of singers. The resonant St. Paul’s Chapel (at least a couple of seconds of reverb) was an additional instrument, reinforcing the music with a glow. Vezzosa Filli was perfect for this space.

sopranos – Meredith Borden,Piera F. Paine
altos – Adria Quinones, Elizabeth Lee
tenors – Brendan Glynn, Orlando Colon,
basses – Gabriel Mendlow, Andrew Clateman

Three pieces by John Dowland: Lachrimae, The Frog Galliard, and Forlorn Hope Fancy were performed by Wim Hoogewerf. Dowland’s “personal tuning” uses perfect ji thirds and fifths yet still contains some intervals that enrich and color (IMHO) the tuning. Like the Gabrieli, the ambient St. Paul’s contributed to the performance.

just intonation guitar – Wim Hoogewerf

Johnny Reinhard’s Eye of Newt is another of his works in polymicrotonality – where more then one tuning is used. His technique of using more then one tuning creates frequent unexpected changes in mood. Multiphonics and singing through his alto recorder adds harmony to this potion.

alto recorder – Johnny Reinhard

Ei, Wie der Kaffee ist Suisse by J. S. Bach for soprano, flute and harpsichord in Werkmeister III. A wonderful piece that gives the soprano a chance to sing about how wonderful coffee is. Unfortunately the chapel drank this one up, obscuring the details.

soprano – Meredith Borden
baroque flute – Andrew Bolotowsky
harpsichord – Rebecca Pechefsky

One of the most anticipated events of the festival was the NY premiere of the solo version of Harry Partch’s Barstow by John Schneider. The result of historical research, Schneider had a custom guitar built based on Partch’s notes. Schneider released a version of Barstow on Just West Coast – microtonal music for guitar and harp (Bridge) a few years ago and he’s refined his approach since then. Now his Partchian sprechgesang is a bit more approprate to the piece.

After the concert I asked Schneider about his future plans for microtonal guitar recordings and was told that he’s planning to record or has unreleased recordings of works by Partch (US Highball for guitar and voice), La Monte Young (a newer composer supervised slower version of Sarabande), more works by Lou Harrison and others inluding his own compositions.

Partch monophonic-model guitar – John Schneider

Shruti is the 22 interval scale of India and also the title of Ganesh Anandan’s contribution to the festival. He played his homemade percussion, metal bars resting on foam and resonators and then sang in a gruff overtone style. NY premiere.

extended voice, original instruments – Ganesh Anandan

Andrew Culver’s Architectonic Space placed the musicians spatially around the chapel. The trumpet in the balcony, the violin in the pulpit, the viola to the side near the pews and so on. Culver’s purely minimalistic held tones disregard the obsessive rhythmic cells favored by most minimalists, the primary influences seem to be John Cage and La Monte Young.

A Tuning Digest buddy said that listening to Architectonic Space was like watching paint dry. I happen to like this kind of zen minimalism, but think that the composer missed a great opportunity to explore the rich resources of higher limit just intonation systems. NY premiere.

alto flute – Andrew Bolotowsky
bass clarinet – Ron Kozak
bassoon – Johnny Reinhard
violin – Dan Auerbach
viola – Anastasia Solberg
cello – Jodi Beder
trumpet – John Charles Thomas

The Quarter tone Preludio a Colon by Julian Carrillo also used occasional eighth tones. It’s pieces like this that spark up a festival like this, the tuning is so far out that there’s no doubt that it’s not in the much too common 12 tone equal temperament. Icing on the cake!

soprano – Meredith Borden
flute – Andrew Bolotowsky
violins – Dan Auerbach, Tina Cho
viola – Anastasia Solberg
cello – Jodi Beder
24 tone equal temperament guitar – Wim Hoogewerf
96 tone equal temperament harp – Skip LaPlante
conductor – Johnny Reinhard

My picks: Barstow, Preludio A Colon and Eye of Newt. Not that there was anything wrong with the other works. Just my personal highlights.

Stay tuned for more…


Originally published on line at Juxtaposion Ezine.


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