SEAMUS' series of new and archival recordings of electro-acoustic music by its members continues, with this re-release of Volume 1 of its series, from 1992.
|Judith Kellock, soprano, Karl Paulnack, piano
|Improvisation on Strange Attractors v1.0b
Improvisation on Strange Attractors v1.0b
|Heung-Wing Lung, percussion
SEAMUS (The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) continues its series featuring electro-acoustic music composed by its members with the next re-release of a back catalogue from its archive, Music from SEAMUS, Volume 1. Leading off the collection is James Mobberley’s Spontaneous Combustion for saxophone and electronics. In a Davidovskian tradition, Mobberley generates all the electronic sounds from manipulation of pre-recorded saxophone sounds. Mobberley alludes to the strong association that saxophone has with jazz styles in this virtuosic work. In his electronics alone piece, James Phelps has essentially “covered” an aria by Rossini from La Cenerentola, using piano and vocal material from a previous recording as his source. Anna Rubin’s Remembering is a memorial to victims of the Holocaust, using names of significant World War II sites and the Hebrew memorial prayer for the text, as well as a wordless cantilena. Stephen David Beck’s Improvisation on Strange Attractors is a work for bassoon and live electronics, employing a patch that Beck developed that maps the bassoon’s sounds onto parameters from spatialization, distance, timbre, and volume. In his Still Life, Bernardo Feldman drew on a collage of sounds from recordings of his instrumental works to sound samples of his daughter speaking. Kwok-ping John Chen’s Ring Shades combines a live performance on a battery of Chinese and Balinese gongs with an electronic part comprised of timbres mimicking those percussion instruments.
Founded in 1984, The Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) is a non-profit national organization of composers, performers, and teachers of electro-acoustic music representing every part of the country and virtually every musical style. Electro-Acoustic music is a term used to describe those musics which are dependent on electronic technology for their creation and/or performance.
SEAMUS is committed to facilitating member interaction and the dissemination of their work through an annual national conference, juried recording projects, and the publication of Journal SEAMUS.
Timothy Timmons is Associate Professor of Saxophone and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is an active clinician, teacher, and performer.
Soprano Judith Kellock, is a renowned recitalist and interpreter of contemporary vocal music. She serves as performer and teacher on the faculty of Cornell University and the New England Conservatory.
Karl Paulnack has appeared in concert at (among others) the Hollywood Bowl, Library of Congress, Carnegie Hall and in broadcasts by National Public Radio and the BBC. He is presently an Assistant Professor of Piano and director of the accompanying program at Ithaca College.
William Ludwig holds concurrent faculty positions at the LSU School of Music and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has recorded with Centaur, Musical Heritage Society and Opus One.
Heung-Wing Lung studied at the Guildhall School of Music, London, the Juilliard School, New York, and received his Master degree from the University of Reading, England. He is the Principal Percussionist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and percussion teacher of the Hong Kong Baptist College, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Electro-acoustic music, in its "electronic music" and "musique concrete" incarnations, was one of New Music's most potent and advanced gestures from the '50s through the '70s. There were even best selling albums such as Walter (Wendy) Carlos' Switched on Bach. And then, almost as quickly, Electronic Music went out of fashion for a time, Nevertheless the Millennium and beyond has brought a resurgence. Music from SEAMUS (EAM-9301) documents the electronic pre-Renaissance, in a first volume of works released under the auspices of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States. It covers the period between 1980 and 1991, a somewhat dark time for the reception of such music but as we hear on this volume, a time when excellent work was still being produced.
The six compositions on the anthology give us a window on some state-of-the-art developments. Four works feature conventional instruments (and voice in one example) and processed and/or synthesized electric sounds. Two are works for electro-acoustic forces alone.
The stylistic parameters fall rather squarely into a high modernist and beyond sound color and open-form expansive orientation. On the works for instruments and electroacoustics there is a consistent attempt to extend the scope of acoustical instruments with synergies between the two realms. The all-electroacoustic works develop aural landscapes of varying densities.
For your information, the following is a round up of the composers, works and configurations: James Mobberley opens the program with his "Spontaneous Combustion" (1991) for alto saxophone and computer generated accompaniment; it is followed by James Phelps and his "Chordlines" (1991) for computer-generated tape; next up is Anna Rubin and her "Remembering" (1989, rev. 1993) for soprano, piano and tape; then follows Stephen David Beck and "Improvisation on Strange Attractors v1.0b" (1990) for bassoon and Virtual Instrument Paradigm; Bernardo Feldman and his "Still Life" (1986) for tape follows; the concluding work is Kwok-ping John Chen's "Ring Shades" (1990) for solo percussion with two-channel tape.
What we experience on this volume are a series of works that deserve fully a hearing today. They should not bask in the obscurity that has been the fate of much electro-acoustic work towards the end of the twentieth century. Anyone interested in the history of later New Music will find this enlightening. Anyone with open ears will find the hearing of it all pleasureable. Give it a listen, by all means.
- Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical Modern Music Review, 8.9.2017