huge amount of music + friends lately. NYC, SF, Baltimore, DC. Pictured: Devin Maxwell, Jordan Dykstra, Laura Cetilia, Liz Prince, Ben Richter, Alvin Lucier, Beth Schenck, Matt Wrobel, Steve Horowitz, Mayank Sanganeria, Lucie Vítková, Teerapat Parnmongkol, James Ilgenfritz, Daniel Goode, Peter Gordon, Eileen Mack, Teodora Stepancic, Assaf Gidron, Zach Layton, Henry Frazier, Anna Roberts-Gevalt, Daniel Neumann, Travis Just + me, not pictured: a ton of other wonderful friends
Red Desert residency at Cornell University, Feb 2022. Feedback – feedback -feedback. We played new music by Maria Bulla, Miles Friday, Laura Cetilia, Han Xu, Josh Biggs and John Eagle. And I performed a little solo set of Giacinto Scelsi & Johanna Beyer. It was so great. Thanks Laura Cetilia and the Cornell composition department for inviting us!!!
Here are some of the shows and projects I have coming up, updated and unfolding slowly on my SHOWS page. I would love to see you!
Oct 23, 2021 Avant GaRAWge, Provo, Utah. 8PM Katie Porter solo bass clarinet and electronics: Michelle Lou, Phill Niblock, John Lely, improvisations on Alice Coltrane. With Larsplund.
Oct 28, 2021 Interstitials Newtown Creek, Queens, NYC. 10:30AM Katie Porter, John Hastings, Aaron Meicht – a short performance activating our urban environment / infrastructure. https://www.johnphastings.org/interstitials
Oct 29, 2021 Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC. Piano+ Winds Concert #29 St. Paul’s Church. New works for piano and winds by Teodora Stepancic, Laura Cetilia and Assaf Gidron. Katie Porter, Lester St. Louis, Erin Rogers, Assaf Gidron, Douglas Farrand, Weston Olencki
Nov 14, 2021 NOVA Chamber Music Series, Songs of Life, Libby Gardner Hall, SLC, UT 3PM Alfred Schnittke, Serenade for 5 Instruments and Devin Maxwell’s Get Along Little Dogies
Nov 19-20, 2021 High Desert Soundings Festival. Joshua Tree, California. Malosma, Katie Porter and Christine Tavolacci duo.
Dec 6, 2021 Pamela Z’s Twenty Answers with the Westminster Chamber Players at Westminster College, SLC
Dec 15, 2021 QUBIT at Trans-Pecos in NYC https://qubitmusic.com/. Quartet: Katie Porter, James Ilgenfritz, Lucie Vitkova, Teerapat Parnmongkol
Jan 6, 2022 Flexible Orchestra in NYC. Katie Porter premieres Daniel Goode’s Bridges of Pittsburgh duet -POSTPONED-
Jan 31, 2022 Abravanel Series, SLC, UT. Manuela Meier ‘iterate no trace‘ bass clarinet solo -POSTPONED-
Feb 10-14, 2022 Red Desert Ensemble residency at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Cornell Contemporary Chamber Players
April 3, 2022 Westminster College School of Music. SLC, UT 3-6PM. Red Desert plays Nina C. Young and Michelle Lou/ FILM SCREENING: Sisters with Transistors / Eliane Radigue Tryptich
April 4, 2022 Abravanel Series Concert, SLC, Ut
April 10, 2022 NOVA Chamber Music Series, Songs of the Americas, Libby Gardner Hall, SLC, UT 3PM
April 2022 West Coast Tour dates TBD with James Ilgenfritz
May 3-6, 2022 Red Desert Ensemble residency at San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA
May 2022 EU Tour dates TBD with Phase to Phase/ Lucio Capece
TEMPO The Quarterly Review of New Music Vol. 75 No.297 Review by Roger Heaton
This issue of TEMPO, July 2021, spends a -good- two pages on our Red Desert album, who we are, and what this music might be about. I’m so pleased. Thank you Roger Heaton and Heather Roche.#andrecormier @thedevinmaxwell @lucie__vitkova @mpisaroliu #reddesertensemble @infrequent_seams
“One begins to see that the Wandelweiser aesthetic (wide-ranging as it is), with it’s Cagean/Wolffian roots, the importance of silence, space and sounds in space, seems, on the evidence of this disc and the pair’s extraordinarily devoted work in the performance and promotion of experimental music, to be particularly important to Red Desert, not least in the way they have presented new work in small-scale, informal and unusual spaces.”
“It is a striking and dramatic piece [Andre Cormier], played with great control and intensity by both players, which would benefit greatly from the drama of live performance.”
This is not superficial ambient music: [Lucie Vitkova] these are carefully heard sounds that are really well controlled, particularly in the clarinet playing.”
RED DESERT ENSEMBLE – CHOROCHRONOS
By Audrey Lockie
February 24, 2021
CHOROCHRONOS lives in the crevices in between sounds; in the space between an incidental grumble and an actualized statement. But rather than drift toward ambience or sonic wallpaper, the duo of Katie Porter (clarinet and bass clarinet) and Devin Maxwell (percussion and electronics) favor a balanced determinism and provide each sound here with the force of intention—even if such a sound barely rises into audibility. Whether through auditory illusions such as pitch and timbre matching or an expert approach to contrast, Porter and Maxwell take the admittedly strange instrumentation of their duo and the even more obviously strange content of these four compositions and approach a unity full of naturalism and stoicism.
The apex of this synchronicity arrives through Maxwell’s own “Bonneville Park 3,” a piece for clarinet and electronics. A majority of the piece’s 11-minute runtime finds Porter’s clarinet tones in harmony with the sparkling electronics of Maxwell’s synths. Its most stunning moments blend the competing sounds into a vibrant mass, forming a choir of coalescing tones without obvious source or reference point. As the piece drives toward its final minutes, though, Porter’s long tones morph into a cyclical melodic pattern while Maxwell’s swirl of synthesizers grows in intensity. The entrance of a thunderous bass tone grounds the previously airy piece, and “Bonneville Park 3” reaches a moment of climactic reward unlike any other on the album.
The unexpected fervor found in the conclusion of “Bonneville Park 3” points toward Red Desert’s underlying mischievousness—a willingness to subvert expectations. André Cormier’s “Sommeil” begins with a stumbling barrage of percussion sounds and a jester-like clarinet melody, a passage of thuds and flits that stands apart from the whispered nature of the rest of the record. This bombast almost immediately dissolves into steady timpani rolls and low-volume clarinet moans for most of the piece’s runtime, only for the duo to hard cut the drones off with what sounds like an elevator-door chime and close out with an unexpected return to the sonic carnival of its opening.
If these two opening pieces provide a wealth of structural experimentation, their counterparts on CHOROCHRONOS’ second side embrace repetition and austerity. Both Lucie Vitková’s “Choral No. 13” and Michael Pisaro’s “Turning” follow a similar structure: single bursts of sound interspersed between bouts of silence. “Choral No. 13” works with more overt variety, differentiating each sonic stopgap with a grab-bag of warbling percussion sounds and some delightfully eyebrow-raising harmonies. “Turning” burrows further toward an idiosyncratic limit point, stretching out the silent interludes while each instance of feather-light clarinet notes and percussion rustlings speak only through whispered rasps. Without the structural surprises of the preceding tracks, “Choral No. 13” and, especially, “Turning” lay bare the beauty of sound for the sake of the beauty of sound.
If the surface of CHOROCHRONOS presents a record full of placid sounds and an almost self-flagellating embrace of repetition and near-silence, the deeper layers reveal a novel approach to subtlety and musical care that makes minute changes in decibel or pitch feel like exercises in long-distance running. In their performance of these four works, Porter and Maxwell showcase an empathetic approach to the art of the avant-garde duo—never does either musician envelop the other, and never does anyone attempt to wrangle these beguiling, glass-fragile compositions out of their always-disappearing outlines. –Audrey Lockie
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
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.