The inaugural US iteration of Iceland’s acclaimed Tectonics Festival comes to New York in four events at ISSUE Project Room May 23rd through May 25th. A co-presentation of Tectonics and ISSUE, Tectonics Festival New York presents a rich program of new composition, improvisation and unique cross-genre collaborations exploring iconic voices in experimental composition. Founded in Reykjavík in 2012 by Ilan Volkov, Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, Tectonics Festival takes the quest for a radical classical music as its starting point.
The series opens on Friday May 23rd at 7pm with a special presentation of Alvin Lucier’s Criss Cross, featuring two pillars of experimental rock: Stephen O’Malley, a doom-metal legend of Sunn O)))) fame, and the celebrated guitarist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi. Originally premiered at Tectonics Glasgow in May 2013 and recently staged at Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival, this is the duo’s first NY appearance. Jessika Kenney, a composer and vocalist who draws on South East Asian and Persian vocal traditions— as well as participating in experimental and metal groups including Sunn 0)))— performs solo and also joins Hildur Guðnadóttir, O’Malley and Ambarchi in the World Premiere of Reverse Tree, a newly commissioned work for ensemble by Eyvind Kang. Kenney also performs two works by Italian avant-gardist Giacinto Scelsi, one in a duo with Kang on viola. An ensemble of O’Malley, Ambarchi, Eli Keszler & Alan Zimmerman perform South Pole by Iancu Dumitrescu, a pioneering Romanian composer still not known enough. Canadian sound artist Crys Cole performs solo, drawing subtle and imperfect sounds from simple, meditative gestures.
The second day of the festival turns attention to Harley Gaber, a complex American composer, filmmaker, artist, and tennis player. Saturday May 24th at 8pm, 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, Saturday May 24th at 6pm, a panel on the artist’s life and works is moderated by composer Eric Richards, with guests Paul Paccione, Ned Sublette and Bill Hellerman.
Sunday May 25th at 7pm, a diverse program highlights works by Eric Richards, a little-known but tremendously influential American avant-garde composer who came of age in the pervasively interdisciplinary counterculture of the 1960s. Two of Richard’s works are performed by percussionist Alan Zimmerman. Alvin Lucier returns for this final event of the festival, performing two works with pianist Jenny Lin. Baritone Jeffrey Gavett, a premiere vocalist of contemporary music, performs works by Lucier, Scelsi and two experimentalists of a younger generation— Aaron Cassidy and Evan Johnson. The festival closes with a solo set by Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir, an acclaimed Icelandic cellist at the forefront of experimental rock, best known for her collaborations with múm and Pan Sonic. With cello, voice and software manipulation, Guðnadóttir draws a broad spectrum of sounds from her instrument, ranging from intimate simplicity to huge soundscapes.
The New York edition of Tectonics Festival at ISSUE Project Room follows 2014 editions of the festival around the world— in Reykjavik with Iceland Symphony, Glasgow with BBC Scottish Symphony, Adelaide with Adelaide Symphony, and a final series in October 2014 in Tel-Aviv with the Israeli Contemporary Players.
All programs take place at ISSUE Project Room, 22 Boerum Place in Downtown Brooklyn.
Full Festival Program
Eyvind Kang: Reverse Tree
Performed by Oren Ambarchi, Jessika Kenney, Hildur Guðnadóttir & Stephen O’Malley
Iancu Dumitrescu: South Pole
Performed by Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, Eli Keszler & Alan Zimmerman
Alvin Lucier: Criss-Cross
Performed by Oren Ambarchi & Stephen O’Malley
Crys Cole: Solo performance
Jessika Kenney: Solo Performance
Giacinto Scelsi: Ho, for solo female voice
Giacinto Scelsi: Manto, for viola and voice
Performed by Evyind Kang & Jessika Kenney
Panel Discussion: The work of Harley Gaber
With Paul Paccione, Ned Sublette and Bill Hellerman; moderated by Eric Richards.
Harley Gaber: The Winds Rise in the North
Performed by Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim, Esther Noh, Alex Waterman & Erin Wight.
Eric Richards: Times Racing (with tape)
Eric Richards: Finalbells
Performed by Alan Zimmerman.
Alvin Lucier: Still Lives
Alvin Lucier: Nothing Is Real
Performed by Jenny Lin & Alvin Lucier.
Aaron Cassidy: I, Purples, Spat Blood, Laugh of Beautiful Lips
Evan Johnson: A General Interrupter to Ongoing Activity
Giacinto Scelsi: Three Latin Prayers
Alvin Lucier: Music for Baritone and Slow Sweep Pure Wave Oscillators
Performed by Jeffrey Gavett, Baritone.
Hildur Ingveldardóttir Guðnadóttir: Solo Performance
Ilan Volkov, curator of Tectonics music festival, made his debut with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and took on the post of Music Director and Chief Conductor in September 2011. He began his career as Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, and was Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 2003-2009. Volkov is very active in the new music scene and has premiered many contemporary orchestral works, including compositions by Jonathan Harvey, Hans Abrahamsen, Unsuk Chin and others. Volkov is a frequent guest conductor with international orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Orchestra, as well as playing violin in improv groups Mines and Lovers Ritual.