Sunday, November 9, 2014

California Love

This week I'm in LA for a recital on the Outpost Concert Series Wednesday, 8pm at University of California Riverside and a visit to the CalArts percussion department. Sprawl, smog, tacos. I am seriously feeling the California Love.

Composer Christopher Cerrone made a big impression on the Los Angeles area with last fall's performances of his Pulitzer Prize nomination-nabbing creation Invisible Cities. What, you don't know about Invisible Cities? The large scale opera performed in LA's Union Station? The one where the audience wore headphones that piped in the orchestral score while the singers and dancers took over the terminal like some kind of glorious, high art flash mob? Yes, that Invisible Cities. I'd go into greater detail but instead you should just watch the opera's official trailer:



Wow, right? And guess what, Invisible Cities is now an album you can own! (If we can't plug our friends' astonishing projects what do we have left in this world?) As you might imagine, audiences and critics gave due praise to the whole thing.

On the heels of Chris's SoCal exploits I'm particularly excited to bring more of his sublime music to the area in the form of Memory Palace for solo percussion and electronics, a piece I commissioned in 2012. I've gone on about it here before but I will say that it's always a treat to share it with audiences as we explore the thick-and-thin marriage of music and memory together.

Here's a teaser from a live performance at Le Poisson Rouge:



Oh, but that's not all.

I'm also thrilled to play a piece I co-commissioned in 2011 from Ian Dicke while we were classmates (and bandmates) at the University of Texas. Eight oh Eight is a joyride back in time to when the now revered 808 drum machine was king. I guess it's still king, and may the sun never set on its rule. With a microphone, a modest battery of percussion instruments, and Ian's exceedingly deft MaxMSP software patch I'll build and deconstruct loop upon loop of next-level beats and scrambled sounds. Through it all the iconic sounds of the 808 prevail, although often twisted, layered, and stretched. "Drum machines have no soul," the bumper sticker reads. It behooves me to agree, but they sure do sound cool.

Speaking of the 80's, I will also play a solo for maracas! And the triangle! "Wait, that's a thing?" you ask. Yes. It's a thing. A wonderful thing.

Temazcal (1984) for solo maracas and electronics by Javier Alvarez is an old friend of mine. A frenetic, obsessive, dark-yet-folkloric friend. My handmade Venezuelan Joropo maracas and I have been through a lot the last five years but they've never let me down, despite the fact that I routinely throttle them in public.

Silver Streetcar for the Orchestra (1988) by Alvin Lucier will show you an expanse of sound contained within a metal rod, bent twice. The triangle occupies a low rung on the ladder of musical instruments but because of this underdog status, its strong geometric shape, and my comprehension of its true sonic power it has become one of my very favorites.

In addition to my recital on the Outpost Series I'm paying a visit to the CalArts percussion studio on Tuesday at 2pm to perform Temazcal and Memory Palace and discuss music, life, and all things elctroacoustic performance practices. CalArts is a storied place, a bastion of musical experimentation, technology, and forward thinking. The opportunity to do a show-and-tell there is a dream for me and I can't wait to meet everyone and snoop around.