Four Meditations

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Collaboration between New Music Co-op, Pauline Oliveros Foundation Houston and Epistrophy Arts will culminate in a spectacular 31 piece orchestra performance of Oliveros' "Four Meditations" along with premieres of three new works by local composers.

THURSDAY, MAY 29TH 2003 8:00PM

Austin, TX - World renowned composer, performer and educator Pauline Oliveros will work with the New Music Co-op ensemble and attend the performance of her "Four Meditations for Orchestra" along with three premieres of new works by local composers. Program length will be roughly two hours and will include a short intermission. The eighteen piece NMC ensemble, culled from Austin projects such as Cinders, e.c.f.a., Golden Hornet Project, Gates Ensemble and the Imbroglio String Quartet, have been preparing this phenomenal event since early March. They will be joined by thirteen skilled musicians from the Houston branch of the Pauline Oliveros Foundation to create a tremendous thirty-one piece orchestra. Pauline Oliveros will be in residence to guide the ensemble through this collaboration.

"Four Meditations for Orchestra" is a multifaceted work which requires focused concentration, skilled musicianship and strong improvisational skills; all the hallmarks of Oliveros' form. Each of the four meditations have their own distinctive character ranging from dynamic ripples of electricity to delicate clouds of sound. A unique combination of listening and playing strategies allow each realization of the score to evolve through real-time interaction between members of the orchestra, blurring the lines between composer and performer. This coordinated approach requires no conductor. During a composer supervised rehearsal and workshop, the collaborative orchestra will work with Oliveros to explore the interpretation of her landmark piece. "My work is intended to share and facilitate the musical creative process through deep listening and co-creation" says Oliveros of her "Four Meditations."

Pauline Oliveros is a Texas native who has worked around the world inspiring and advocating new ideas in music for half a century. Her life as a composer, performer and humanitarian is about opening her own and others' sensibilities to the many facets of sound. Since the 1960's she has influenced American Music profoundly through her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth and ritual. John Cage said "Through Pauline Oliveros and Deep Listening I finally know what harmony is... It's about the pleasure of making music." All of Oliveros' work emphasizes musicianship, attention strategies, and improvisational skills. She has collaborated with Austin artists on many occasions such as Sharir Dance Company, Ellen Fullman, Heloise Gold, and Deborah Hay.

She has been celebrated worldwide. During the 1960's John Rockwell named her work Bye Bye Butterfly as one of the most significant of that decade. In the 70's she represented the U.S. at the World's Fair in Osaka, Japan; during the 80's she was honored with a retrospective at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.; the 1990's began with a letter of distinction from the American Music Center; In 2000 the 50th anniversary of her work was celebrated with a commission and performance. Oliveros' work is available on numerous recordings produced by companies internationally.

In keeping with their emphasis on creating and performing compelling new works, the NMC will present three new pieces by member composers. The program will feature Brent Fariss' octet "Shining White Air" for flute, oboe, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, bassoon, trombone, vibraphone, and live electronics. Sarah Norris will present a quartet for bassoon, cello, contrabass, and bass clarinet. Also on the program is "To move gracefully, forward to break through" for twelve piece chamber orchestra by Travis Weller. All three premiere works were composed this year and chosen specifically for this event.

* Advance tickets available now at Thirty Three Degrees (4017 Guadalupe)

* Members of the ensemble will play an excerpt from "Four Meditations" live on KUT 90.5 Radio's "Eklektikos" Wednesday May 28th during the noon hour.

About the New Music Co-op

About Epistrophy Arts Epistrophy Arts is a grass roots cultural organization dedicated to expanding Austin's musical horizons. They present music that is on the cutting edge of American and World culture but is seldom showcased in the "Live Music Capital of the World." Epistrophy Arts wants to create a home for adventurous music in Austin by presenting concerts by living legends, unsung heroes, and rising talents in the field of creative and improvised music.

About the Pauline Oliveros Foundation, Houston Pauline Oliveros Foundation Houston was established in Spring 2001 to present the cutting edge of creative music and to support the exploration of new methods in arts education. POF Houston presents the inspiring, the spontaneous, the serene, the provocative, and the ecstatic in contemporary music. Artists from around the world are pushing boundaries to discover new sounds, new areas of expression, new forms, and new methods of making music.

Review of the Concert:
"Rank and Review"
Thursday June 5th

Three New Works by the New Music Cooperative - Ceremony Hall May 29

The New Music Cooperative is an association of Austin composers and musicians dedicated to finding new ground and exploring uncharted methods of song crafting, instrumentation and performance. On Thursday, May 29th they came together with Houston's Pauline Oliveros Foundation to pay tribute to Oliveros, an internationally renowned modern composer with Texas roots, and to present three new works constructed and performed by members of the group.

This is not your daddy's punk rock. Often disregarding static scores and established musical structure for a more improvisational, collaborative approach, the three local composers and 16 musicians who performed these works absolutely gave the audience something new.

The first selection, "Shining Like White Air", featured brass, winds, a vibraphone and live electronic processing in a presentation by composer Brent Fariss. This meditative, slow piece began with a play on the harmonies and textures found within the instruments. The tension in the ensemble came not from what was played, but what was not, until the sound broke. Then the agitated harmonies erupted into new directions, but found a sort of resolve and were calmed. The vibraphone was both struck and bowed and the listener was deposited into a new, eerie realm at the end.

"Quartet for Three Months" by Sarah Norris followed. The cello, contrabass, bass clarinet and bassoon initiated a conversation among themselves in what felt like an effort to describe something, to come to some sort of consensus. Going forward as a group, making decisions, at times returning to a theme to recapture its truth, slowly the clarinet began to make its voice heard above the discussion. The other instruments fell back to let it be expressed and it led them on to new themes. With each voice teaching and learning from the others new ideas were uncovered until an uneasy consensus was reached.

Musical Swiss Army Knife Travis Weller designed the last piece, "To move gracefully, Forward to break through" with musicians placed at odd angles on the stage, many not facing the audience. The twelve instruments came together to a fractured sound with many elements going different places. Paths crossed with two, three or sometimes all the voices uniting for an expression then moving on to their interpretation. Discordant, but not tense; haunting, but corporeal, the piece succeeded in its cerebral, rather than emotional, evocation.

This new music presents a challenge to the listener. Rarely do questions lead to traditional resolve, but instead often to more questions. It is a very subjective experience and my observations may totally miss the mark, but I applaud and am excited by the effort and, if you're up to having your ideas of music stretched, urge you to see their next performance.

Kerry Payne
Rank and Review Magazine