PRINT December 2013

Music: Best of 2013

Alvin Lucier

Bruce Odland rigging a microphone on top of the Tank, Rangely, CO, June 28, 2013.

1 SAVE THE TANK With the guidance and energy of sound artist Bruce Odland, a group of supporters raised more than $40,000 last spring to purchase a rusted, disused water tank in Rangely, Colorado. The structure has amazing acoustics, and now musicians from all over will have the opportunity to explore this singularly resonant space.

2 “SYNTH NIGHTS” (The Kitchen, New York, March 22–23) For the second installment of this intermittent music series, distinguished composer David Behrman performed, among other pieces, his vintage Runthrough (1968), for homemade synthesizers and controlled mixers, and more recent works, such as Open Space with Brass (2011).

3 KYLE GANN, ROBERT ASHLEY (University of Illinois Press) This is an engaging book by a remarkable writer on music. At 184 pages, it is short, but it wonderfully elucidates the layered complexity of Ashley’s groundbreaking compositions.

4 DAVID BEHRMAN, BOB DIAMOND, ROBERT WATTS, CLOUD MUSIC, 1974–79 In this rarely exhibited audio/video installation, which was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum this past year, a video camera scans the sky and translates real- time changes in cloud formations into shifting harmonic textures.

5 TED APEL, CALL AND RESONANCE, 2012 Consisting of five large test tubes containing speakers, microphones, and circuitry, this sound installation produces a continuous stream of harmonious musical gurgles. (Full disclosure: I selected this work for the Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts Prize in Sound Art this past year.)

Charles Curtis, Issue Project Room, New York, Sept. 20, 2013. Photo: Bradley Buehring.

6 ARTISTS FOR ARTISTS: 50 YEARS OF THE FOUNDATION FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS (self-published) This sumptuous book includes a complete list of the grants the Foundation for Contemporary Arts has given to artists over the past fifty years, as well as photographs of primary movers such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns, and the texts of lectures delivered by N. O. Brown, Buckminster Fuller, and Marshall McLuhan.

7 OSTRAVA DAYS FESTIVAL (Ostrava, Czech Republic, August 16–31) This year’s program included two iconic long-duration works—Petr Kotik’s Many Many Women (1975–78), and Philip Glass’s Music in Twelve Parts (1971–74)—and a quirky new orchestral piece by Christian Wolff.

8 CHARLES CURTIS (Issue Project Room, New York, September 20) Curtis played works by Alison Knowles, Éliane Radigue, and Christian Wolff—whose One Cellist (2013), written specifically for this astonishing performer, was a highlight of the season.

9 ALARM WILL SOUND (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 16) The twenty-member ensemble performed an adventurous program of some of Steve Reich’s old and new works, including Four Genesis Settings (1990–93), New York Counterpoint (1985), and the New York premiere of Radio Rewrite (2012), based on a pair of songs by Radiohead.

10 ROBERT BLACK, Possessed (Cantaloupe Music) A founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Black is a great double bassist. This past August, he gave a series of improvisatory outdoor performances against the primal red rock of Moab, Utah; video footage and audio recordings will be released early next year.

Composer Alvin Lucier is John Spencer Camp Professor Emeritus of Music at Wesleyan University. On December 10, Ensemble Pamplemousse will perform a new chamber work by Lucier at Issue Project Room in New York.