Modern Composition By Julian Cowley, The Wire, Issue 443, January 2021 https://www.thewire.co.uk/issues/443
Red Desert Ensemble, Chorochronos, Infrequent Seams, CD/DL/LP
Splitting their time between New York Brooklyn and a mountain cabin in Utah, percussionist Devin Maxwell and clarinettist Katie Porter have been honing their finely poised musical partnership for the best part of two decades. They came together as a duo when Michael Pisaro wrote Turning for them in 2002. It is revived here, sparse and tense, a prolonged, palpably gradual and finely balanced rotation around the threshold of audibility. Three other pieces fill out the picture. In Andre Cormier’s Sommeil, trills and chimes are interspersed with muted tones and rumblings. Lucie Vitkova’s Choral No. 13 is luminous and graceful. Maxwell’s own Bonneville Park 3 is a spectral tour de force pitching acoustic instruments against textured electronics. Performances that testify to the deep affinity and meshed horizons that unite and energise Red Desert Ensemble.
CHOROCHRONOS is a collection of four gorgeous experimental works for clarinet, percussion and electronics. Red Desert Ensemble (Katie Porter and Devin Maxwell) lovingly recorded duos they’ve performed for almost two decades in small spaces, for even smaller audiences all over the US (and Canada) by composers André Cormier, Lucie Vítková and Michael Pisaro alongside a huge new spectral work for clarinet and electronics by Maxwell. The result is exceptional, a document of music trapped in ether or volcanic rock, both unearthed stillness and totally jarring, a perfect music-as-art for our time. With cover artwork by Christine Heindl, liner notes by Adam Tinkle, design by Phillip Niemeyer and video art by Svavar Jónatansson and Dev Harlan, the album is released on vinyl, CD and digital download by the label Infrequent Seams. CHOROCHRONOS follows Red Desert Ensemble’s tradition of inviting audiences into the sound world of avant-garde music with practiced interpretations, attentive curation, and insightful performances.
Katie Porter, clarinet, bass clarinet
Devin Maxwell, percussion, electronics
1. ANDRÉ CORMIER – Sommeil (11:17)
for clarinet and percussion (2002)
2. DEVIN MAXWELL – Bonneville Park 3 (11:20)
for solo clarinet and electronics (2020)
3. LUCIE VÍTKOVÁ – Choral No. 13 (5:07)
for clarinet/bass clarinet and vibraphone/percussion (2016)
4. MICHAEL PISARO – Turning (15:43)
for bass clarinet and percussion (2001)
RELEASE DATE December 18, 2020 on Infrequent Seams, pre-order now
Yesterday we performed Teodora’s duet for clarinet and casios. I was livestreamed in to Mise-En_Place in Brooklyn, my sounds broadcast over the speakers inside the space, along with other clarinet recordings, some from my speakers too, and Teodora performed her part in the space. It took several rehearsals for Teodora and I to coordinate how to work over zoom at the same time as performing with a delayed livestream. But we did it. A cacophony of clarinets and casios, but the actual sound was just a gorgeous bathtub of us. Also I get to sing and play. I love that. All three works on the concert were so beautiful, a duo with Erin Rogers on sax and Rachel Mangold on bass. So happy to be a part of this project, the recording comes out on Love Records in the spring and it’s all supported by a NYFA grant for women. HERE IS THE SHOW- It starts at about 15 minutes in, my piece is first. xo
Acoustic+ | Teodora Stepančić | mise-en place
Date: October 29, 2020Time: 2:30 pm
Duets with Erin Rogers, Rachel Mangold and Katie Porter.
THURSDAY, October 29, 2020 // 2:30 PM EST
More information HERE.
I recorded bass clarinet sounds to this surreal video score by Andy Graydon, and ended up in a quartet with France Jobin (Montreal), Pierre Gerard (Liege) and Klaus Janek (Berlin). It’s a beauty. And there are SEVEN versions, with artists from all over the world, enjoying many of the same things that I do about time, space and music, and reminding me that community is bigger than this weirdness we’re living through.
Various Artists, seven interpretations of a moving image score by Andy Graydon Bandcamp Pre-Order at https://andygraydon.bandcamp.com Begins Friday, October 2nd (a Bandcamp fee-waive day)
A*rray Listening Party Hosted by Non-EventThursday, October 1st, 8:00 PM ESThttps://youtu.be/W4lm9fSTGPM
A*rray is a new series of music compositions based on a moving image score by Andy Graydon. In response to the isolation and distancing imposed by the pandemic, Graydon began in April, 2020 to invite musicians and artists from around the world to play their own solo interpretations of the score, a four-channel video that forms the basis of his installation A* (2019). Graydon gathered these contributions into four-player ensembles, creating seven new 30-minute works. A central theme of the video score is the productive complexity of voices in conflict, and the necessity of dissonance in making meaningful connections. Each piece explores this terrain in unexpected and exciting ways, resulting in the lively variety across the series.
A*rray is being released on Bandcamp through Graydon’s own Internegative imprint, with a special pre-order starting October 2nd. The release includes all seven compositions, high resolution cover images, and a special download of the A* video score with the original installation soundtrack.
contributing artists: Cecilia Lopez, Ryan Choi, sawako, Jan St Werner, Barbara Held, Luke Martin, France Jobin, Delia Gonzalez, Stephen Vitiello, Pierre Gerard, Katie Porter, Gil Sansón, Kris Limbach, Richard Garet, José Rivera, Klaus Janek, Jonathan Zorn, Eden Girma, Amnon Wolman, Ensemble Musica Nova (Shira Legmann, Maayan Tsadka, Tom Soloveitzik, Yoni Niv), Edwin Lo, Takeshi Nishimoto, David Sani, Jenn Grossman, Wendy Eisenberg
On Thursday Sept 10, 2020 Red Desert Ensemble played a concert at the Summit Community Garden in Park City, Utah, a benefit for the garden’s COVID19 effort to provide fresh food to those in need in our community. We performed solo works by Teodora Stepancic, Daniel Goode, Tim Parkinson, Devin Maxwell and Iannis Xenakis. We also played Having Never Written A Note for Percussion by Jim Tenney with our audience. It was a little cold but very special to share music with people in real life.
Several installations and soundwalks were also placed around the garden, including text scores by Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Christian Wolff, David Dunn, a soundwalk a la Hildegard Westerkamp and several listening stations facing various vistas, a la Max Neuhaus. I wanted to curate a way to experience experimental music and sound in a safe and open way, an invitation to listen. You can read more about the project here: www.reddesertensemble.org/garden
Some nice projects are coming out of this time:
On May 27th, 2020 (7PM Istanbul/10AM Utah) I’ll be playing live with bassist Sebastian Gramss (Cologne), Jeremy Woodruff (Istanbul/Berlin), cellist Anil Eraslin (Istanbul) and the incredible BC Manjunath (Bangalore) for a zoom livestream through the Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, the first iteration of the International Online Orchestra. Here is the link
On June 6, 2020 (6PM PDT/7PM Utah) I’ll be performing in Daniel Corral’s Sextet for Similar Sounds as part of Culture Hub Re-Fest, a global art & technology community founded by SeoulArts & La MaMa. (POSTPONED)
9/10/2020 Red Desert Ensemble at the Summit Community Gardens, a benefit for the garden’s COVID 19 effort. We’ll perform works from the avant-garde outdoors, including multiple percussion with audience participation encouraged! BYO Dinner/Drinks, grab veggies from the garden! TICKETS
RECORDINGS & COLLABORATIONS
I’ll be working with composer Teodora Stepančić to record a new work for clarinet + synth. We were supposed to record together in NYC this summer, but instead we’ll record apart, in special places. This project is supported by a NYFA grant and includes new duos written for Teodora and myself, Lucie Vítková, Rachel Mangold and Erin Rogers. She says it will be a “journey through spaces” which sounds perfect.
I spent some time recording clarinet and bass clarinet parts for composer Brian Harnetty‘s new project based on the writings of the 20th c Cistercian monk and prolific writer from Kentucky, Thomas Merton.
And I recorded around 30 minutes of bass clarinet for Andy Graydon‘s A*Array, a sound and video installation, a collaboration of musicians across far distances, much like the international astronomy project connecting observatories around the world that the piece is based on.
I’m also excited to collaborate far and wide. The projects are just starting and we will see where they go- an ongoing bass clarinet duo with Lucio Capece in Berlin, a Cardew project with cellist Juho Laitinen in Helsinki, zooms with composer Daniel Goode in NYC to learn the rest of his beautiful Clarinet Songs, the beginnings of a collaboration with the sculptor Kelsey Harrison here in Utah, a duo by André Cormier with the London-based soprano and curator Juliet Frazer. Also! Devin Maxwell is writing an OPERA based on Hector running from Achilles in the Illiad, the score is for bass clarinet, string quartet and electronics, with four voices, and it looks like we will start workshopping it virtually this month. So glad for music.
Well, I hope you are all OK. We are OK.
New release on Love Records: on the first day of 2020 we played a new year’s concert at Teodora Stepančić and Assaf Gidron’s home in Brooklyn, NY. This is a selection of solo pieces for clarinet and snare drum recorded that day, part of a larger program. Works by Lucie Vítková, Johanna Beyer, Pauline Oliveros, Susanna Gartmayer and Tim Parkinson.
We didn’t expect our residency to end this way, but I don’t think anyone anticipated this moment where the whole world has seemingly stopped, and we all wait together (but not together) for a more hopeful future. It’s a strange and scary time and we are mostly enjoying holding our kids tight and slowing down time, today is guacamole, tomorrow some more legos. Things like that.
But also, in a week, we will play a LIVE show, from our living room. I’ve thought a lot about what works I want to present- thoughtful, quiet, patient works, maybe even playful. I’ve been spending time with Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit scores (- burn this book after you read it-) and will be realizing a work or two here in isolation- Imagine a thousand suns… make a tunafish sandwich- and another – Listen to a heart beat- . These works are really speaking to me right now, because they are basically how we are spending our days. I’ll also play a bass clarinet solo by Michelle Lou called Telegrams, another piece I feel is perfect for this moment, I tap out morse code with my foot on a rattling tin can in the bell of my bass clarinet, and play these beautiful soft soft soft multiphonics, in a near-dark room, just a small colorful light to accompany me. And I’ll play Scelsi’s MAKNONGAN for any bass instrument, a slow drone on a few low notes (with some screaming)- when I learned the piece in Italy with trombonist Giancarlo Schiaffini, he told us to play like we were tearing down the walls of Jehrico, so that’s what I’ll do, also appropriate for this time. Devin will play a work we love, Alvin Lucier’s Music for Snare Drum, Pure Wave Oscillator, and One or More Reflective Surfaces . He’ll also play Pauline Oliveros’ Single Stroke Roll Meditation, which is just what it says it is, a meditation on a roll, just rolling on different surfaces and objects around our house.
Then we plan to play a brand new piece that Devin is writing, Bonneville Park 4, hopefully not taxing our crappy internet too badly to get Eric KM Clark and Christine Tavolacci beamed in from Los Angeles to play a quartet together. Fingers crossed.
Finally, we will re-visit Michael Pisaro’s Averer Local a 43 minute work in five movements for clarinet & percussion, with beautiful soft electronics and white noise. Pisaro hid this piece for us in a bottle of scotch, a wedding present, and the second duo ever written for us, back in 2002. We’ve only performed this piece once before, in late 2009 in Listen/Space Brooklyn, it was lovely then and somehow even more lovely now, it’s aged well. 🙂
All of this to say: Please come hang out with us virtually, in our living room, we’ll be playing a very quiet concert for you.
RED DESERT (Katie Porter, clarinets and Devin Maxwell, percussion/composer) Artists-in-Residence at the Florence J Gillmor School of Music, Westminster College play Yoko Ono, Giacinto Scelsi, Michelle Lou, Alvin Lucier, Pauline Oliveros, Devin Maxwell and Michael Pisaro with guests Eric KM Clark, violin and Christine Tavolacci, flute.
April 13, 2020 7:30PM (mountain standard time) – livestream link below!
We’ve also been invited to perform live on Chicago’s EXPERIMENTAL SOUND STUDIOS The Quarantine Concerts, on April 19 at 2PM (MST) curated by Nomi Epstein, we’ll be playing a set of duos alongside other isolated artistic duos- Angharad Davies/Tim Parkinson and Cherlyn Hsing Hsin Pisaro-Liu/Michael Pisaro https://ess.org/the-quarantine-concerts
I imagine there will be more and more of these online projects. I thought it would be a difficult adjustment for me, I had tons and tons of travel planned, a summer in Europe, concerts in Iceland and Berlin, a record release show in NYC, BIG THINGS. Well, the world has different plans. We’ll do those plans later. For now, we’ll just stop being so productive and be thankful for our little family and this beautiful music. I sincerely hope you are all OK during this time and I miss you dearly.