Denison Concert Presents Music by Minimalist Composers
Posted: November 6, 2006
Denison students taking an Honors Program course on "Minimalism in Music and Culture" will present a concert featuring some of the leading composers of the movement as well as some student compositions at 8 p.m. on Thursday (Nov. 16) in Burke Recital Hall. All of the students in the course are participating -- not just those with music majors and minors, says Assistant Professor Jeremy Grimshaw, who is teaching the course. The concert is free and open to the public.
Minimalism emerged in American music in the 1960s and began as an iconoclastic downtown New York movement becoming an aural symbol of commercialism and consumerism in the media culture of the 1980s and 1990s.
Alvin Lucier's "Music on a Long Thin Wire" is among the works that will be performed. A 44-foot piano wire is stretched across the entire width of Burke Hall. A low-voltage, variable-frequency current is sent through the wire; a strong magnet near the wire creates interference with the current and produces vibration in the wire. Amplifying the resulting sounds from the wire and picking up ambient vibrations from the room creates the music. Another of Lucier's works, "I Am Sitting in a Room," has two students recording themselves reading a passage, then playing it back and re-recording it many times. With each recording it picks up more and more of the natural reverberating tones of the room until the sound of the original speech is entirely obscured and the sound consists entirely of ethereal hums and whistles. Grimshaw describes the eventual result of performing this work in Burke Hall, having started with dialogue from the play "Waiting for Godot," as "a giant finger rubbing the rim of a giant crystal glass."
Also on the program are excerpts from works by Philip Glass -- "Einstein on the Beach," "Spaceship," and "Knee Play #5" -- and a work by Steve Reich. "Einstein on the Beach" is a classic work of musical minimalism and is the piece that made Glass famous after its premiere in 1975. Reich's "Clapping Music," perhaps the most pared-down example of his "phasing" technique, has two performers clap a syncopated 12-beat pattern. Gradually, one performer inches ahead, beat by beat, creating a new composite rhythm with each shift, until finally after 12 shifts, the two patterns meet up again.
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- Honors students present works by minimalist composers, including Alvin Lucier, Philip Glass and Steve Reich; 8 p.m., Thursday (Nov. 16), Burke Recital Hall. Free and open to the public. Call 740-587-6220 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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