Sunday, October 14, 2012

"1962": Ligeti, Xenakis, Tenney, Feldman, Riley, Brown, Scelsi & John Cage at Seattle Symphony & Frye Art Museum: Oct 19 & 21 Olivier Messiaen "Turangalîla" Jan 31 & Feb 2

A lot is going on mid-October here in the way of Modern Classical. Foremost in my mind is the "1962" concert by that most progressive of modern ensembles ICE, performing with the Seattle Symphony. We've not seen something of this caliber/focus since the demise of Seattle Symphony's brilliant "Music of Our Time" seasonal showcase. By this evidence, the symphony's new conductor, Ludovic Morlot looks to be making good on his proposed late-night [untitled] Modern Composer chamber series. Funny to see this first installment in celebration of the anniversary of the World's Fair and features work of that year's event hosted here in Seattle. We get a Modernist wormhole back to an time when the avant-experiments of the post-war era rubbed shoulders with popular culture a bit more and our future hadn't yet been resigned to the bipolarism of cynically aggrandized Apocalyptic visions or self aware Retro-Ironic rehashes. Instead the future was the unknown, the challenging, the risk taking, the as-yet-tried and often enough; the iconoclastic. Which is exactly the word I'd use to inclusively describe the work of the composers featured on this bill. Which includes György Ligeti's "Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes", Iannis Xenakis' "Atrées", James Tenney's "Entrance/Exit Music for Tape", John Cage's "Variations III", Morton Feldman's "For Franz Kline", Terry Riley's "Mescaline Mix for Tape", Earle Brown's "Novara" and Giacinto Scelsi's "Khoom". Also of note, the "9pm for a pre-concert performance of Gabriel Prokofiev's Concerto for Turntables and the Orchestra" whatever that entails. Her in-person performing with orchestral accompaniment? Turntablism performance of her work with accompaniment? I guess we'll find out! And while we're here, it's probably wise to look into tickets for the performance of Olivier Messiaen's organ works "Chants d’Oiseaux", "Le Banquet Céleste", "Le Fils Verbe et Lumière from Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité" & "Livre du Saint-Sacrement" coming next January and at the end of that same month Messiaen's massive (exceedingly rare in it's performance) symphonic work, "Turangalîla".

All of that alone is more modern works at the Seattle Symphony than we've seen cumulatively over the course of the past half-decade, and yet, there's more! In recognition of this year's John Cage Centennial the 1962 concert contains Cage's "Variations III" coming at the end of a month of events/celebrations throughout September, reaching almost fever-pitch the week of his Birthday. These Cagean events continue into October with the Frye Art Museum presenting Jarrad Powell's performance of Cage's 4'33'' followed by Film Comment's Robert Horton hosting a lecture and screening of Elliot Caplan's "Cage/Cunningham". The documentary, filmed over the course of 8 years, explores the totality of their 50 year collaboration as friend, composer and choreographer. Depicting two of the 20th Century's great moderns through performances, rehearsals, interviews by them and their cohorts and contemporaries including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Nam June Paik, Carolyn Brown, David Tudor and other luminaries of the Abstract Expressionist, Minimalism and Fluxus movements. Continuing into November, the most significant of the Cage festivities this Fall, Seattle Modern Orchestra make his centennial the focus of their seasonal performance at Chapel Performance Space, with their own one-night John Cage Festival. From the Frye: "The Frye Art Museum celebrates the 100th birthday of composer John Cage (1912-1992) with a special program of music and film demonstrating ways this genius composer/artist/essayist revolutionized music, art, and performance. Cage lived in Seattle from fall 1938 through spring 1940 where he composed and worked at Cornish College of the Arts as a dance accompanist and teacher. The program begins with a performance by Jarrad Powell of 4’33” (1952), Cage’s most well-known and controversial work. Powell is a composer, professor of composition at Cornish College of the Arts, and director of the ensemble Gamelan Pacifica. He fondly remembers walking the beach at Deception Pass with Cage to gather stones for the composition Ryoangi. "Following the performance, film critic Robert Horton hosts a screening of films that introduce the wide-ranging work of Cage and his circle. Highlights include a groundbreaking television appearance and candid footage of Cage with choreographer Merce Cunningham and other luminaries whose profound influence on post-war twentieth-century music and art still resonates today."