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Suzanne Ciani

Suzanne Ciani is a California-based composer, recording artist, and pioneer in the field of electronic music and sound design. Since 1982 she has produced seventeen albums, for which she has received five Grammy nominations, for Best New Age Album, and a Golden Globe award; in 1995 she founded the record label Seventh Wave. A Life in Waves, a documentary about Ciani’s life and work by filmmakers Brett Whitcomb and Bradford Thomason, is currently in production.

  1. GLENN GOULD, BACH: THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS (COLUMBIA)

    Gould recorded Bach’s seminal work twice: as his debut album in 1955 and again in 1981. Both recordings were made at the Church, the famous CBS 30th Street Studio in New York. When I was in high school, I would hold my breath listening to Gould play solo piano at Boston’s Symphony Hall. His precise and reverential approach to Bach brings me total joy; it bridges the gap between human and machine.

  2. SKIING IN THE DOLOMITES

    Spend a day on the long Sella Ronda route around this northeast Italian mountain range. Take the Armentarola slope from Lagazuoi to the restaurant Rifugio Scotoni, where you will find sizzling game and conviviality, singing and the clinking of glasses. After lunch, for a small fee, you can be pulled along the flat valley floor by a horse-drawn sled all the way to the next ski lift.

  3. DON BUCHLA

    I met Don in 1969 while I was pursuing my master’s degree in music composition at Berkeley; my life as an artist seismically shifted when I began working with his electronic-music-instrument designs. His synthesizer is played without a traditional keyboard, using knobs, dials, sliders, touch plates, and patch cords. This year, Finders Keepers Records will release some of my early live performances using Buchla’s System 200, which features at its heart the inimitable Multiple Arbitrary Function Generator.

  4. EURORACK MODULAR SYNTHESIZERS BY MAKE NOISE

    There is a revolution under way in modular electronic-music instruments, inspired by a new generation of musicians who want the hands-on experience that early voltage-controlled systems provided. Tony Rolando, the founder of Make Noise, is one of my favorite young independent designers; his philosophy and user interfaces owe a great deal to Buchla, who will forever be the consummate master.

    *Make Noise Shared System Eurorack modular synthesizer with patch cords, Asheville, NC, May 11, 2015.* Photo: Anthony T. Rolando. Make Noise Shared System Eurorack modular synthesizer with patch cords, Asheville, NC, May 11, 2015. Photo: Anthony T. Rolando.
  5. ROXY MUSIC, AVALON (E. G. RECORDS/POLYDOR)

    Released in 1982, this Bryan Ferry masterpiece has since accompanied me on many journeys to the beach and to the mountains; its sound—a smooth layering of vocals, synth, and sax—reconnects me with my younger, sensual self. Bob Clearmountain’s lushmix is perfection.

    *Cover of Roxy Music’s _Avalon_* (E. G. Records/Polydor, 1982). Cover of Roxy Music’s Avalon (E. G. Records/Polydor, 1982).
  6. JEAN-GEORGES VONGERICHTEN’S CRAB-BALL RECIPE . . .

    but without the grapefruit. If you need a divine hors d’oeuvre for a special occasion, these crab balls will overwhelm your guests. We have a really long crab season in the Bay Area and are always looking for new ways to enjoy it.

  7. UNIQLO HEATTECH SHIRTS AND ULTRA LIGHT DOWN JACKETS

    The shirts are cheap (under fifteen dollars), soft, and warm, and they work at sports events and elegant dinners. The jackets can be layered, come in a spectrum of colors, and can be squished down to palm size, making them ideal for traveling.

  8. ILSE BING

    I was immediately drawn to Ilse’s lyrical images when I began collecting photography in the 1980s. Her work, which sensitively bridged art and technology in the ’20s and ’30s, earned her the title “Queen of the Leica.” I used to visit Ilse on Riverside Drive when I lived in New York, and we would have energetic discussions about art. She was a mentor and—as I was called the “Diva of the Diode”—it seemed our careers had many parallels. We even collaborated: She wrote a poem in the shape of a wave for one of my compositions, “Lumière.” I feel a deep responsibility for Ilse’s work. In November, I will mount an exhibition of her prints and memorabilia at the Bolinas Museum in California.

    *Ilse Bing, _Self-Portrait in Mirrors_, 1931*, gelatin silver print, 10 1/2 × 12". Ilse Bing, Self-Portrait in Mirrors, 1931, gelatin silver print, 10 1/2 × 12".
  9. OCEAN CONSERVANCY

    The ocean has always been my musical inspiration. Sadly, the mysterious, once-pristine zone is now teeming with lurking gyres of plastic. In March, the Ocean Conservancy reported that “17 billion pounds of plastic spew into the ocean from all over the world” every year; according to a 2009 TED talk by oceanographer Charles Moore, we use two million plastic beverage bottles in the US every five minutes. We need to stop using plastics!

    *Floating garbage, Cardiff Bay, UK, April 12, 2015.* Photo: Charos Pix/Flickr. Floating garbage, Cardiff Bay, UK, April 12, 2015. Photo: Charos Pix/Flickr.
  10. BNP PARIBAS OPEN

    I’m a tennis buff, and I love this annual tournament in Indian Wells, California, because, though it’s the most popular tennis tournament after the four majors, it has an incredibly intimate feel. All of the top players show up, and you can practically touch them! It is simply great tennis up close.