The second day of Tectonics Festival turns attention to Harley Gaber, a complex American composer, filmmaker, artist, and tennis player. Gaber’s monumental work The Winds Rise in the North is performed by a quintet including extraordinary string players Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim, Esther Noh, Alex Waterman and Erin Wight. A pillar of American minimalism, the near-100 minute work is scored in four sections with amplified instruments largely performed sul ponticello (on or near the bridge of the instruments), yielding rich harmonic combinations and overtones.
Prior to this performance at 6pm, a panel discussion on the artist’s life and works is moderated by composer Eric Richards, with guests Paul Paccione, Ned Sublette and Bill Hellerman.
...to many, this is one of the holy grails of minimalism in music in the 20th century; it’s certainly a piece that should be talked about a hell of a lot more than it is (perhaps its rigorous adherence to a largely a-tonal / temporal / morphous form keeps it locked far away from the “palatable”minimalism of Glass / Reich / Riley et.al) ...either way, it’s a heavy piece that’s powerfully trance-inducing; one’s emergence from which always shapes everyday realities in an unsettling way…" - Keith Fullerton Whitman
Harley Gaber (1943-2011) does “harrowing yet peaceful” like no one else. His richly sonorous spectral drones sweep the soul along on its darkest night towards a dawn forever just beyond reach. Originally from Chicago, Gaber studied with Kenneth Gaburo and Darius Milhaud among others. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s he found his own unique compositional language that combined the intensity and extra-musical framing of certain post war, European Modernism with sparser, more obviously spiritual evocations of Eastern aesthetics as made manifest in such diverse expressions as Haiku poetry, Sumi-e painting, and even martial arts forms.
In 1978 he moved from New York City to La Jolla, Ca and stopped making music to devote himself to teaching and playing tennis. Following a two-year hiatus from the arts, he commenced on what was to become a twenty year period of creating an immense body of work in the plastic arts and photography. Much of the work done during that period was informed by his musical instincts and focused, as did much of his later music, on the unity and interrelatedness of things. His predilection for collage work in general reflects and confirms that focus. The years of making art culminated with his largest artistic and personal undertaking in the construction of DIE PLAGE, a photo-collage work of some 5,500 canvases detailing German history in the first half of the 20th Century.
With the completion of DIE PLAGE in the early part of 2002, Gaber turned to writing about the project and filmmaking, first using images from DIE PLAGE for his films and eventually moving on to other subjects. His return to music began with the creation of soundtracks for all his films. Initially, the soundtracks were (again) in a collaged form using, for the most part, music of others, but also incorporating his own music from old recordings and taped performances. His 2008 original soundtrack for “Mein Kamps: Akt V” (filmed in Berlin and named after the Berlin bakery chain Kamps), demonstrates a richer, more complex approach to crafting and shaping sound made possible by the use of the computer in composing the work along with the twenty years of rethinking his artistic outlook in general, and his musical thinking in particular. His “I Saw My Mother Ascending Mount Fuji” was completed in 2009 and released just weeks before his death by suicide in 2011.
Violinist Conrad Harris has performed new works for violin at the Darmstadt Ferrienkürse für Neue Musik, Gulbenkian Encounters of New Music, Radio France, Warsaw Autumn, and New York’s Sonic Boom Festival. In addition to being a member of the Flux Quartet, he is concertmaster of the New York based S.E.M. Ensemble and the Ostravska Banda, founded in the Czech Republic. He has performed and recorded with such artists as DJ Spooky, Jean-Claude Risset, and Tiny Tim, as featured violinist on his final recording “Prisoner of Love.” A solo CD featuring premiers by Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, Robert Ashley, and Gordon Mumma will soon be released on Mode Records. He has also recorded for Asphodel, Vandenburg, CRI, and Vinyl Retentive Records.
Hailed by the New York Times for her “lightning-fast reflexes” and “breathtaking” performances, Pauline Kim has been notably described as “a sorceress of the violin.” A Grammy-nominated artist (Universal/Decca), she engages her audiences world-wide in ground-breaking classical and genre-bending crossover, to the envelope-pushing experimental/ avant-garde.
Violinist Esther Noh performs with numerous groups, including Either/Or, Argento New Music Project, Ensemble Signal, Wordless Music Orchestra, and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). She has toured throughout the country with the ETHEL string quartet, eighth blackbird, Classical Jam, and the Meredith Monk Ensemble and has collaborated with John Zorn, Mark O’ Connor, and Bang on a Can, and has presented avant-garde music at Le Poisson Rouge, Roulette, The Stone, and the Cutting Room.
Alex Waterman is a cellist, composer, writer, and teacher. He has completed three books with typographer Will Holder: Agape, Between Thought and Sound, and The Tiger’s Mind. They are currently completing a new book on Robert Ashley’s notational scores: Robert Ashley: Yes, But is it Edible?. Beatrice Gibson and Waterman’s collectively written and scored film, A Necessary Music, won the Tiger Prize for Best Short Film at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2008. His writings have appeared in Dot Dot Dot, Paregon, BOMB, and ArtForum. He designed the sound installations for SHOW and PREMIERE by Maria Hassabi. He teaches at the Bard College MFA program, New York University, and has taught, alongside Will Holder, at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Violist Erin Wight is an active chamber musician and avid performer of new music. Described by the New York Times as “engrossing” and “surehanded,” she performs frequently as a member of the Red Light New Music Ensemble and Either/Or, has played with Talea, Signal, the Wordless Music Orchestra, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Axiom, the Juilliard Electric Ensemble, FiRE, and worked closely with members of the Ensemble Modern and Ensemble Intercontemporain.
Tectonics Festival New York was supported by New Music USA. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit our project page: https://www.newmusicusa.org/projects/tectonics-brooklyn/