Commission Music

Commission Music
Bespoke Noise!!

Wednesday, 12 March 2003

Thursday

skipping back to the OM festival....

I went with Christi to work, then went over to the Palace of Fine Arts for a TV thing. Evening Magazine was filming some of the wineglass ensemble for their show, and I was a in the ensemble. So I sat at a table, with the TV camera and obnoxious TV personalities to my back, and played a wine glass tuned too full of fluid to be audible. The wrid thing about playing wineglass, is that it creates standing waves in the fluid. SO if you're playing and can't hear yourself for some reason, like because you're on a stage and the monitor speakers are pointing at you and there's a mic right over your glass, you can look at the fluid and see if you're getting sound out. In really full glasses, drops of water spring up, creating a mist. These glasses were filled with very cheap wine, so a mist of something like redwine vinegar was spraying up at my hand.

The pitch wasn't audible, though, so the guy sitting next to me said that you could raise the amplitude by running your finger along the outside of the glass, rather than rim. He then demonstrated this. It was like a nice physicics lecture, because the raised amplitude of sound, directly corresponded to a raised amplitude of waves in the fluid and red wine got sprayed out all over me. Fortunately, I wore clothes that would bear this, just in case.

So we sat and played wine glasses in the background, while the TV people had inane banter encouraging alcholholism. Why would you play a wineglass, when you could drink the contents??!! Well don't drink and drive, folks, but be sure to drink a lot. Certainly, drink alll the wine in front of you rather than linger over it or make music! Um, actually, the "why would you play a wineglass..." sentence is a direct quote.

Then my stand partner showed the TV people how to play the wineglasses. The male announcer said, "Oh I think mine's a bit sharp." and then drank some. Ha ha ha. Go alchoholism. Anyway, he has acting skills, because he didn't gag on the auful wine.

Then the TV folks went to talk to Charles about the score auction. He pointed at the handwritten, signed scored by Lou Harrison and explained about them. Then, out of the blue, the host asked him if he watched Survivor. Charles looked startled and the female host said that whoever of Survivor has "finally met his match. ME!"

Clearly I'm not missing any life-enrichment by skipping the Tv medium. After this utterly meaningless bit of publicity was over (would anyone who want to watch that TV show want to come to our concert??), I asked Charles if he needed me to do anything. He said yes and had me watch a rehersal with him. I think he wants or needs a personal assistant or something.

After watching Amy X reherse, I went back to the OM office, where I did some kind of grunt work, then back to the PFA, where I sat at the auction information table and missed the composerss pre-concert talk. A lot of people wanted to look at the scores, but nobody was taking bid forms.

the concert was a world premiere of a new work by Ge Gan-ru that was studies of Peking Opera. It had a lot of fast plucking in the String Quartet and a piano part. The plucking seemed to flow from one instrument to another. They also did slides up and down the strongs. It definitely evoked Peking Opera, while also definitely New Music. Very interesting. Amy Cook and Mario were in the audience and so were Tiffany and Ed and Mitch and Mitch's chew toy Stacey. Saw all of them at intermission.

Then Amy X Neuburg played. She did the same set that I saw her do over the summer at the San Jose Museum of Art. Her songs are pop-y and entertaining and use Bel Cant opera singing techniques, which means that she can sing really well in a flat or in an operatic style. All of her songs use vocal loops. So she'll sing one thing and loop it and then sing with herself and loop that. Bobby McFerrin uses this technique too, but Amy X is cooler.

The audience thought she was the bomb. I don't think many of them knew of her work before. She sold more CDs than anyone else at the festival.

then Evelyn Glennie played two songs for solo snare drum and several songs for solo marimba. She wrote one of the songs that she played, but the rest were written by other folks. You wouldn't think that anyone would want to listen to songs for solo snare drum, but she was so amazing, I could have listened to another hour of snare drum. And the marimba was also incredible. At one point, she was singing the same pitches that she was playing on the marimba. What makes this an especially amazing feat is that she's been profoundly deaf since age 8. She plays with tremendous warmth and sensitivity and with great care. She has an incredible dynamic range (the ability to play very loudly, very softly and in between) and is probably the world's best percussionist. Apparently, she's also very gifted at reading lips, but obviously cannot dect sounds that she doesn't visually witness. Christi says that she went to the artist retreat one day and there was a loud noise outside. Everyone jumped except Glennie, who asked what happened. Anyway her performance was inspiring and changed the way I view the snare drum.

One of the Board of Directors had a party afterwards, so we headed over, as did Mitch, Stacey, Tiffany and Ed. It was in her five story warehouse/loft thingee. All of us unimportant hangers-on tried to look as if we belonged and tried not to be intimidated by the decor. Oh yes, I always go to parties at houses with Lichtenstein and Warhol hanging on the wall. Wanted to inpect them to see if they were real or prints, but didn't want to be uncool. Wanted to talk to the composers but didn't know then and hadn't been introduced and didn't want to be uncool. Christi introduced me to the hostess. People started going home. As it got less croweded, I started being less cool and talked to a bunch of nifty folks. Some guy on his way out said "Gxis la revido!" I said "Cxu vi parolas esperanton?"

the guy took esperanto with Ed Williger at Stanford but had quit just weeks before Tiffany, Christi, Mitch and I had started. He was amazed to learn that several esperantists had been at the party. He was kind of drunk though and tried to engage everyone in a game of charades. We were parking on a tow-away after 2:00 AM spot, so we took off and then spent more than an hour on the bridge trying to get home.

Overall, great concert. Great party. I haven't been to party that cool since the era of dot com launches ended. I just heard today that thursday actually had the best turnout of all the nights. Also, I leanred that the symphony opening was scheduled for wednesday also (poor planning, really) and the Chronicle reviewer skipped it to come to the OM concert! Unheard-of!!

More later

No comments: