Pauline Oliveros: “Primordial Lift” / Olivia Block

Sat, September 14, 2013 - 8:00pm
ISSUE Project Room, 22 Boerum Place, Brooklyn
$15 
/ $12 members + students

Pauline Oliveros by Vinciane Verguethen

Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer, author and philosopher, has left a profound imprint American music through her decades of work with improvisation, electronic music, teaching, myth, ritual and meditation. Now celebrating her 81st year, Oliveros returns to ISSUE as part of Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain for a performance of Primordial Lift (1998), a surreal work centered around a low frequency oscillator, mirroring the resonant frequency of the earth. The large ensemble work includes performers Anne Bourne , David Grubbs, Miguel Frasconi, Shelly Burgon, Jason Hwang, and Matthew Cullen. Chicago-based composer Olivia Block presents the World Premiere of Dissolution (2013), a solo performance crossing field recordings, recorded dialogues, and live processing in a meditation on mistranslation, interference, and disruption.

Pauline Oliveros' Primordial Lift (1998) structures the musicians' performances around a low frequency oscillator, a mirror to the resonate frequency of the earth in its acceleration from 7.8 to 13hz and beyond— at which point the magnetic fields of the earth pass through a zero point and a polar shift will occur. The performers play an abstract mass of guitar, violin, glass drones and accordion as the oscillator matches a steady, imperceptible shift in amplitude in step from 7.8hz through 13hz (“Primordial”) for the first 45 minutes, then plateaus for a further 30 (“Lift”). Tonight marks the third performance of this complex and surreal work. Primordial Lift was last performed at ISSUE in 2010, released as a double-LP on Tiaga in 2012.

Dissolution (2013, World Premiere) is a solo performance piece by Olivia Block, composed mainly of pre-recorded unscripted conversations that are layered, obscured and revealed through various live processing techniques. There are few decipherable words, only somewhat recognizable linguistic and emotional sound-patterns and inflections. These fleeting glimpses of language are submerged in a haze of patterns and field recordings. Vintage walkie talkies, analog processing devices, and micro-cassette recorders are paired with a single white cathode light. Other instruments in the piece include amplified autoharp, metal objects, and small electronic instruments. Dissolution is both a sound/musical performance and a personal meditation about the failings and complications of sound-communication--the misunderstandings and mistranslations, interference and disruptions.

Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain– a two-month festival celebrating ISSUE Project Room's 10th anniversary– revisits seminal past projects and initiates new relationships with over 60 artists working across disciplines of sound, dance, performance, and literature. Presented as a series of 24 evenings of provocative double billings, Ten Years Alive blurs the boundaries between divergent disciplines and practices and celebrating the vibrancy of the Brooklyn experimental arts community.



Pauline Oliveros is a senior figure in contemporary American music. Her career spans fifty years of boundary dissolving music making. In the '50s she was part of a circle of iconoclastic composers, artists, poets gathered together in San Francisco. Recently awarded the John Cage award for 2012 from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, Oliveros is Distinguished Research Professor of Music at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and Darius Milhaud Artist-in-Residence at Mills College. Oliveros has been as interested in finding new sounds as in finding new uses for old ones --her primary instrument is the accordion, an unexpected visitor perhaps to musical cutting edge, but one which she approaches in much the same way that a Zen musician might approach the Japanese shakuhachi. Pauline Oliveros' life as a composer, performer and humanitarian is about opening her own and others' sensibilities to the universe and facets of sounds. Since the 1960's she has influenced American music profoundly through her work with improvisation, meditation, electronic music, myth and ritual. Pauline Oliveros is the founder of "Deep Listening," which comes from her childhood fascination with sounds and from her works in concert music with composition, improvisation and electro-acoustics. Pauline Oliveros describes Deep Listening as a way of listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one's own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep Listening is my life practice," she explains, simply. Oliveros is founder of Deep Listening Institute, formerly Pauline Oliveros Foundation.

Olivia Block creates original sound compositions for concerts, site-specific multi-speaker installations, live cinema, and performance. In a 2011 feature article in The Wire, Julian Cowley describes Block’s compositions as “finely nuanced textures of environmental material and occasional surges of sonic power blended with an elegant instrumental architecture.” Her compositions often include field recordings, scored segments for chamber instruments, and electronic textures. Additionally, she performs her own partially improvised compositions for inside piano and electronics. She has performed throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours and festivals including Sonic Light, Dissonanze, Archipel, Angelica, Sunoni per il Popolo, Outer Ear, and many others. Her works have premiered at La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, and she has completed residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music and The Berklee College of Music. She has taught master classes at several additional universities. Block has created sound installations for public sites and exhibition spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the library at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Lincoln Conservatory Fern Room in Chicago, and at the “Echoes Through the Mountains” exhibit at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain is made possible, in part, by “Lead Presenter” support from Robert Bielecki and HBO; “Festival Sponsor” support from Robert Longo, Margo Somma & John Hamilton, and Sixpoint Brewery; with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and with the support of ISSUE Project Room’s Members.