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Mar 11

Tribute to John Cage: Alvin Curran – Richard Teitelbaum – Ralph Samuelson

With Alvin Curran, Ralph Samuelson and Richard Teitelbaum at echoraum

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Sunday 11 March 2012 at 8:00pm


Sechshauser Straße 66, Wien, A-1150, Austria


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Tribute to John Cage

Alvin Curran – Richard Teitelbaum – Ralph Samuelson

Two gurus of “comprovising” with virtuoso shakuhachi player in a program dedicated to John Cage.

Alvin Curran – keyboards and electronics;

Richard Teitelbaum – keyboards and electronics;

Ralph Samuelson – shakuhachi;

In collaboration with Tonspur Wien as a part of the “Membra disjecta for John Cage” show.

Alvin Curran

Democratic, irreverent and traditionally experimental, Alvin Curran travels in a computerized covered wagon between the Golden Gate and the Tiber River, and makes music for every occasion with any sounding phenomena – a volatile mix of lyricism and chaos, structure and indeterminacy, fog horns, fiddles and fiddle heads. He is dedicated to the restoration of dignity to the profession of making non-commercial music as part of a personal search for future social, political and spiritual forms.

Curran’s music-making embraces all the contradictions (composed/improvised, tonal/atonal, maximal/minimal...) in a serene dialectical encounter. His more than 150 works feature taped/sampled natural sounds, piano, synthesizers, computers, violin, percussion, shofar, ship horns, accordion and chorus. Whether in the intimate form of his well-known solo performances, or pure chamber music, experimental radio works or large-scale site-specific sound environments and installations, all forge a very personal language from all the languages through dedicated research and recombinant invention.

Alvin Curran studied composition with Ron Nelson (Brown University) and with Elliott Carter and Mel Powell (Yale School of Music). With a fortuitous bang, he began his musical journey (1965 in Rome) as co-founder of the radical music collective Musica Elettronica Viva, as a solo performer, and as a composer for Rome’s avantgarde theatre scene. In the 70’s, he created a poetic series of solo works for synthesizer, voice, taped sounds and found objects. Seeking to develop new musical spaces he developed a series of concerts for lakes, ports, parks, buildings, quarries and caves – his natural laboratories. In the 1980’s, he extended the ideas of musical geography by creating simultaneous radio concerts for three, then six large ensembles performing together from many European Capitals. By connecting digital samplers to MIDI Grands (Diskklavier) and computers, since 1987, he produced an enriched body of solo performance works – an ideal synthesis between the concert hall and all sounding phenomena in the world. He created a visually striking series of sound installations, some of them in collaboration with visual artists including Paul Klerr, Melissa Gould, Kristin Jones, Pietro Fortuna, Umberto Bignardi, Uli Sigg. Throughout these years he continued to write numerous pieces for radio and for acoustic instruments.

During his career Curran made significant artistic encounters with Giuseppe Chiari, Edith Schloss, AMM, Cornelius Cardew, Steve Lacy, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Steve ben Israel, Anthony Braxton, Simone Forti, Steve Reich, Joan La Barbara, Michael Nyman, La Monte Young, Trisha Brown, Robert Ashley, David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier, Larry Austin, Bill Smith, Paolo Ketoff, Robert Moog, Nuova Consonanza, MEV2, Meme Perlini, Mario Ricci, Maria Monti, Prima Materia, Ron Bunzl, Phil Glass, Charlemagne Palestine, Terry Riley, George Lewis, Evan Parker, Gregory Reeves, Serge Tcherepnin, Takehisa Kosugi, Pulsa, Maryanne Amacher, John Cage, David Tudor, Morton Feldman. Giacinto Scelsi became his friend and mentor. Curran’s works were performed and recorded by Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio, Arditti Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, The EAR Unit, Eve Egoyan, Ensemble Modern, Cenk Ergün, Fred Frith, Huddersfield Choral Society, Joan Jeanrenaud, Kronos Quartet, Joan La Barbara, Steve Lacy, Yvar Mikhashoff, and Ursula Oppens.

From 1975 to 1980 Curran taught vocal improvisation at the Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica (Rome) and from 1991 to 2006 was the Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California. Currently he is teaching privately in Rome in addition to master classes, residencies, and lectures at Oberlin, Peabody, Brown, Berkeley, The Hague, Haifa, Bolzano, Northwestern, Yale, Beijing, etc. His music was awarded with many prizes and commissioned by many funds and residencies, including Bearns Prize, BMI award, National Endowment for the Arts, DAAD, WDR Ars Acustica International, Prix Italia, the city of Pisa Premio Novecento, Fromm Foundation, Hass Family Award, Meet the Composer, Leonardo Award for Excellence, Guggenheim Foundation, Ars Electronica, Phonurgia Nova, Experimental Music Studio, and Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Gutenberg Fellowship.

Richard Teitelbaum

Richard Teitelbaum has been active as a composer and performer for more than four decades, performing throughout Europe, North and South America, and the Far East.

After receiving his Master of Music degree from Yale in 1964 he spent two years on a Fulbright in Italy where he studied with Gofreddo Petrassi and Luigi Nono. While there he co-founded the pioneering live electronic music group Musica Elettronica Viva with Frederic Rzewski and Alvin Curran in Rome, performing in several hundred concerts across Western Europe. In addition to MEV’s collective improvisation and free open audience participation pieces, his early electronic works included biofeedback techniques that employed brainwaves, heartbeats and other signals from the human body in live performance.

Returning from Europe in 1970, he formed one of the first intercultural improvisation groups, The World Band, at Wesleyan University. He has continued to compose for and perform with traditional musicians from many cultures, including Japan, India, Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Palestine, Cuba, and elsewhere. In 1976-77 he spent a year in Tokyo on a Fulbright, studying shakuhachi with the great late master Katsuya Yokoyama, while composing Blends, for shakuhachi, Moog synthesizers and percussion.

Much of Teitelbaum’s work has demonstrated his interest in combining and blending diverse and far-flung techniques, styles and cultures in order to break down apparent barriers and integrate them into a cohesive whole. His music includes notated compositions and free and structured improvisations in acoustic, electronic and electroacoustic media, often combining traditional western and non-western instruments with electronics. In addition to working extensively with American and European jazz players and improvisers such as Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Jimmy Garrison, Lee Konitz, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Carlos Zingaro, Shelly Hirsch, Michel Waiswicz, Fred Frith, John Zorn, Andrew Cyrille, David Krakauer, Otomo Yoshihide and Joelle Leandre, over the years he has also performed or collaborated with John Cage, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Merce Cunningham, Nam June Paik, Yuji Takahashi, Takehisa Kosugi, The Living Theater, Joan Jonas, and many others.

In 1974 he began a series of works collectively titled “Threshold Music” in which the performed sounds are blended imperceptively with those of the environment, hovering barely about the threshold of audibility. This concept has continued to inform much of his compositional and performance approach ever since. Beginning in the late 70’s he began to work with small single board digital computers in live, interactive performance. His “digital piano system” combined mechanically-played acoustic pianos with computers to allow him to perform complex “acoustic computer music” simultaneously on three grand pianos. He performed with this system in the Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, The Pompidou Center in Paris, Almeida Theater in London, and many other venues. While on a DAAD residency in Berlin, a commission from the West German Radio in Cologne enabled him to compose his Concerto Grosso (1985), which expanded the piano system by adding synthesizers and two wind players as part of the interactive mix. The piece was awarded a prize from the Austrian Radio and the Ars Electronica Festival, and a recording released on the Hat Art label.

Teitelbaum has created two operas dealing with Jewish mystical expressions of redemptive hopes: Golem, An interactive Opera (1989), and Z’vi, (2002) based on the 17th Century Jewish-Moslem Messiah figure Sabbatai Z’vi. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship to create this piece, which has since been performed at Bard College’s Fisher Center, the Venice Biennale and the Center for Jewish History in New York City. He has also composed interactive computer and piano works for pianists Aki Takahashi and Ursula Oppens, the latter with the support of the Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Fund, and SoundPaths for chamber group and computer which was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation and the Da Capo Chamber players and premiered at New York’s Merkin Hall in 2009.

In addition to the labels mentioned above, Teitelbaum has recorded for Arista-Freedom, BYG, Centaur, Ellipsis Arts, Incus, Matchless, Moers, Music and Arts, Nippon Columbia, Silkheart, Tzadik, Victo, Wergo and others. A new recording of a recent live solo concert will be released on the Mutable Music label this winter.

Teitelbaum is a Professor of Music at Bard College, where he has taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs for more than twenty years.

Ralph Samuelson

Ralph Samuelson is a performer and teacher of the Japanese bamboo flute, shakuhachi. He was trained in the classical tradition of the Kinko School under the tutelage of the late Living National Treasure Goro Yamaguchi, as well as by Shudo Yamato and Kodo Araki V. He began shakuhachi studies in 1969 as a graduate student in the World Music Program at Wesleyan University and studied traditional music in Tokyo in the 1970s under the guidance of the distinguished musicologist Fumio Koizumi. Samuelson has performed in leading concert venues in New York, around the United States, and in Europe and Asia. He has been presented in live radio and television broadcasts in the US and Japan and has recorded for Music of the World, Lyrichord Records, CBS Masterworks, Axiom, Tzadik, and other labels. In 1991 and in 2008 he was the featured shakuhachi soloist in the New York City Ballet’s production of Jerome Robbins’ Watermill, with music by Teiji Ito. In spring 2011 he was an artist-in-residence at the Lou Harrison House in Joshua Tree, California; and in fall 2011 he was a guest artist at the Seoul Institute of the Arts in Korea. Since 1976 Samuelson has also worked as a foundation professional facilitating and supporting international cultural exchange, and from 1991 to 2008 he served as director of the Asian Cultural Council, a foundation supporting exchanges in the arts and humanities between the United States and Asia.

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