Iannis Xenakis had a long-standing interest in the U.S., but given the five years he spent here, little has been written about his experiences. Charles Turner’s study attempts, through archival research and interviews, to document Xenakis’ time in the United States. Its subject is his relationship to American cultural institutions, and in what lured Xenakis here for musical composition and research.
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Palimpsest (1979) for piano & ensemble
Cory Smythe, piano
Échange (1989) for bass-clarinet & ensemble
Joshua Rubin, bass-clarinet
Akanthos (1977) for soprano & ensemble
Tony Arnold, soprano
Thalleïn (1984) for 16 instruments
O-Mega (1997) for percussion & ensemble
Steven Schick, percussion & conductor
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
Steven Schick, conductor
for trombone & 6 marimbas
Benny Sluchin, trombone – red fish blue fish
An exhilarating Xenakis progran, built around works for soloist and ensemble. Most of the soloists are from the acclaimed International Contemporary Ensemble led by their resident guest conductor, Steven Schick. Zythos and O-Mega are among Xenakis’s final compositions. In the Xenakis oeuvre these constitute a new and plaintive percussion music. Yet there is a strange power in these stark landscapes. In Zythos, long trombone lines are wound round the threading of six marimba parts. It receives its first recording here, featuring trombonist Benny Sluchin of Ensemble Intercontemporain. O-Mega, a fitting name for Xenakis’s final work, is a short offering for percussion soloist and chamber group.
Palimpsest is essentially a piano concerto, but the piano along with a set of drums is placed behind a row of nine string and wind instruments. Thus a listener often needs to hear (and see) through the musicians in the front row to hear the soloist in the back. The title implies that what is nearer and more apparent is more recent than what is farther away.
Échange is a mysterious work exploring rhythm and texture. A solo bass clarinet spans a spectrum of textural possibility from the long, liquid tones of its low register to the percussive jolt of slap tonguing and key clicks.
Akanthos is music built by the rapid exchange of oppositions along with a supple line for female voice.
Thalleïn, a long work for large ensemble, echoes the theme of newness. From a basic rhythmic substrate multiple and complex layers of sound issue forth – each an elaboration of the previous one until the sounding space is saturated
This exhibition presented by the Frac (Regional Collection of Contemporary Art) of the Région Centre pays tribute to Michel Ragon who, in Où vivrons-nous demain (Where will we live tomorrow – 1963) and Prospective et Futurologie (Prospective and Futurology - 1978) introduiced the challenges of experimental architecture of that time.
At the heart of this panorama of experimental and even utopic architecture from the mid-20th century to the 21st the Ville cosmique thought and drawn by Iannis Xenakis in 1965 will be emphasized as one of the most spectacular examples of a prospective insight about the future of our civilization.
During the remodelling of the main stage the Deutsche Oper will be mounting Oresteia in the rather unusual setting of the upper deck of its multi-storey car park. Iannis Xenakis’ composition for Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy s conceived as an out-doors spectacle.
The elevated car park of the Deutsche Oper Berlin is at once a functional urban space and an artificial setting whose very nature and appearance raise issues of the process of social civilization, of protection and shelter, of uncertainty and disconcertedness.
The staging of this extraordinary work of opera lies in the hands of director David Hermann and set designer Christoph Hetzer. The chorus and orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin are to be conducted by Moritz Gnann, with Michael Hofmeister singing the monologue of Cassandra and Seth Carico featuring Athena.
International symposium and concerts
May 23, 24, 25
Paris 8 University
Xenakis' electroacoustic music represents only 10 % of his work but it punctuates his production and the history of music in the second half of XXth century with major and deeply innovative masterpieces.
This international symposium, along with four concerts, is totally dedicated to this little-explored aspect of Xenakis' production.
Program and informations:
Pendragon Press has just released a new and consistent book about Xenakis's instrumental music that we owe to our friend Benoît Gibson, a distinguished musicologist and a member of the Friends of Xenakis.
The instrumental Music of Xenakis: Theory, Practice, Self-Borrowing presents Xenakis's main theories from an analytical perspective without calling for special knowledge of mathematics. It features numerous examples and relies on detailed analyses to explain Xenakis's compositional procedures, yielding new insight into the relation between theory and practice in the composer's music. As a comprehensive study, it also reveals for the first time the extent to which Xenakis borrowed from his earlier works. The use of montage is examined as a compositional device, challenging the view that mathematics plays a dominant role in his music.
From November 3rd to 5th the Department of Arts, School of Arts and Education Science of the European University Cyprus hosts in Nicosia the Iannis Xenakis – in Memoriam, International Conference in order to pay tribute to this celebrated composer, iconic figure and great thinker of the twentieth century. The conference coincides with the ten-year anniversary of his death, and it aims to shed light on lesser-known aspects of his life and work. In particular, the conference will investigate several strata related to Xenakis, involving not only biographical references to his life but also the evolution of his compositions. Moreover, the thematology will expand and include subjects concerned with the relationship between music and architecture and issues related to performing Xenakis' music.
The conference brings to Cyprus many distinguished keynote speakers and artists such as Sharon Kanach, Nouritza Matossia, Spyros Sakkas, Makis Solomos, Rohan de Saram and Ermis Theodorakis.
The Pharos Arts Foundation supports the conference and hosts the concerts that will be given at the Shoe Factory.
More details at www.euc.ac.cy
The Casa da Musica in Porto is hosting on 9th and 10th of September an international symposium entitled "A Musica No Espaço – Dialogos entre Musica e Arquitectura". The last conference, "Evocando Xenakis", is a conversation between two famous Portuguese architects, Nuno Grande and Eduardo Souto Moura, and Alain Surrans, President of Les Amis de Xenakis. This event ends with a concert given by the Porto Symphony Orchestra. Takuo Yuasa conducts Terretektorh and Nomos Gamma, two orchestral works in which musicians are disseminated among the audience.
More than 20 concerts in six days and a total of 50 Xenakis works performed in less than one week: the Festival "Les Flâneries Musicales" in Reims, the heart of Champagne, is devoting to the composer the biggest festival ever dedicated to his music. Several artists who were among the first performers of Xenakis works have been invited: conductor Arturo Tamayo, harpsichordist Elisabeth Chojnacka, pianist Roger Woodward, Les Percussions de Strasbourg, the Orchestre National de Lille. New ensembles such as the Jack Quartet, Asko/Schoenbner, the (vocal) Solistes XXI, conducted by Rachid Safir, will also perform major Xenakis works but also some pieces less known: Persepolis revived by Daniel Teige, the original version of Metastasis and the French premiere of the concerto Troorkh by trombonist Benny Sluchin. The major event of the festival will be the performance of Oresteïa on Saturday 16th, Daniel Tosi conducting soloists, choir and orchestra from Montpellier Méditerranée.
A few days later, on Monday 18th, Oresteïa will be again celebrated in another major French festival, in Montpellier. Musical ensembles coming from Montpellier, but mostly form Greece and Turkey will gather for a performance of Xenakis' masterpiece under the baton of Gürer Aykal. This project has been initiated by baritone Spyros Sakkas who will perform again the monologue of Kassandra which he sang for the first time 25 years ago.
Why does a person kill another person? This is the theme of the Oresteïa. This trilogy of tragedies weaves a web of family-related, political and religious references to explain the spade of killings within one family, the house of the glorious general Agamemnon. Bloody violence dominates the stage, and what remains at the close is a question: will there ever be an end to the conflicts? Aeschylus’ drama, first performed in 458 B.C., impresses with its subtle exploration of the abyss lurking behind human actions. In his Oresteïa, Xenakis demonstrates intimate familiarity with ancient Greek drama. His composition is dominated by percussion, virtuoso baritone solos and the choir as protagonist. The unique archaising effect of his Oresteïa derives in particular from his focus on striking rhythms and the use of micro intervals.
In their approach to Aeschylus and Xenakis, director Carlus Padrissa, stage designer Roland Olbeter and Greek scholar Sabine Follinger aim both at the uncovering of historic traces and a contemporary interpretation of this ancient Greek tragedy in public space. The dramatisation by Carlus Padrissa, a member of the legendary, radical Catalan theatre group La Fura dels Baus, opts for effective pyrotechnics as a central design element.
Surrounded by Percussion (pdf)
The Iannis Xenakis International Conference London 2011 is organised at the Southbank Centre (Weston Pavilion) by the Centre for Contemporary Music Cultures of Goldsmiths, University of London, on the tenth anniversary of Xenakis' death in 1-3 April 2011.
The conference will accommodate the interest of an international community of researchers, artists and audience. Distinguished scholars Benoît Gibson, Peter Hoffmann and Makis Solomos have been invited to provide keynote talks.
The programme includes talks from researchers around the world, as well as a master class, and is contextualised with performances of Xenakis' music.
Workshops are also proposed in Sunley Pavilion by composer and Xenakis expert Rodolphe Bourotte to musicians who would like to try composing on UPIC. A computerised music composition tool created by Xenakis in the late 70s'. UPIC is based on the premise that drawing can be fundamental gesture for creation, in any domain. It has been effectively utilised by a range of users, from children to composers and sound artists. Nowadays music can be composed with UPIC using either a mouse or a graphic tablet to draw curves.
The new contemporary art exhibition that will take place at the Museum of Cycladic Art from April to October 2011 will bring together for the first time work by many of the internationally renowned artists who have lived and worked in Greece during the twentieth century. Looking at Greece as a site of inspiration over the past seventy years, works to be included reflect the various ways in which the country, its long cultural history and geographic characteristics have continued to be a source for artistic innovation.
Among the questions that the exhibition will raise are how has the role of ancient culture changed in contemporary art and at what point did artists cease to travel to Greece for extended periods of time. The exhibition brings to light the striking shift in contemporary culture that has seemingly witnessed an end to the traditional ‘Grand Tour’ so closely associated with Byron and his fellow Romantic artists. Where do artists seek inspiration now and what parallel can be drawn with the current globalised age of hyper-mobility and the travel and cultural explorations of previous generations of artists? The Greek-born Lucas Samaras, Iannis Xenakis and Jannis Kounellis, each of whom left the country in their youth but continued to make works intimately connected to its history and culture, will be represented by key works that reveal their often complex relationship to their homeland.
Mycènes Alpha, electronic work premiered in Mycens in 1978, will be performed in within the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by Jessica Morgan, Tate Modern, London.
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens – April 15 to October 2011 - www.cycladic.gr
Co-presented with the Center for Experiments in Art, Information and Technology
Three scintillating concerts mix electronic and high-tech sound events with extraordinary instrumental pieces by Iannis Xenakis, the legendary pioneer of music and architecture. Celebrating the way Xenakis forged new paths of hearing and seeing, these three different programs feature new pieces by composers inspired by Xenakis along with the artist’s own multi-channel electronic works, game strategy pieces, landmark instrumental compositions, and his arresting Pour la Paix, a gripping statement about war for actors with choir and electronic sounds. Guest artists include renowned cellist Rohan de Saram, composer Curtis Roads, and remix and sound artist Takuro Mizuta Lippit (aka dj sniff).
>Friday, January 28
Dmaathen (1976): Claire Chenette, oboe; Matthew Cook, percussion
Linaia-Agon (1972): Trio Kobayashi, brass trio game piece
Takuro Mizuta Lippit (dj sniff): New Work
Orient-Occident (1991): Electroacoustic, mixed by Maggi Payne
Diamorphoses (1957): Electroacoustic, mixed by Maggi Payne
>Saturday, January 29 (Not in final program order)
Achorripsis (1957): Chamber orchestra
Nomos Alpha (1966): Rohan de Saram, cello
Charisma (1971): Rohan de Saram, cello
Kottos (1977): Rohan de Saram, cello
Analogique A + B (1958/9); Violins, celli, basses and tape (Analogique B)
Pour la Paix (1981): Speakers, chorus, and electroacoustics
>Sunday, January 30 (Not in final program order)
Curtis Roads: New Work, with Brian O’Reilly, video
Akanthos (1977); Maurita Thornburgh, soprano and chamber ensemble
Polytope de Cluny (1972); Electroacoustic; mixed by Curtis Roads
Dikhthas (1979); Mark Menzies, violin; Dzovig Markarian, piano
Epicycle (1989); Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, solo cello and ensemble
In addition to the performances, A Forum: Hearing and Seeing Xenakis features guest speakers interspersed with world-premiere videos of Xenakis’ own commentary and demonstrations. These pre-concert presentations take place January 29 and 30 in the
Ahmanson Auditorium, MOCA Grand Avenue. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary at MOCA Pacific Design Center. Funded in part with generous support by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the
Consulate General of Greece in Los Angeles.
In 2011 we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Iannis Xenakis' death. Many events will celebrate that anniversary. Students of the Conservatoire Supérieur de Lyon will thus perform the almost complete works for and with percussion on February
This volume, the second in Pendragon's Xenakis Series, is a collection of essays by thirty contributors, of fourteen nationalities, all internationally recognized performers of Xenakis s music. Many of these artists have worked closely with Xenakis and several works are discussed by their dedicatees. These testimonies prove, through real life experience and performance, the feasibility of realizing his very difficult writing, not only attested to by those close to the composer during his lifetime, but also by the younger generation that continues to be drawn to it. Each essay gives a new perspective: on what the composer was really looking for, on tricks of the trade for negotiating treacherously technical prowess, or on the attainment of an enhanced sense of self through the performance of this music.
Following an extensive Preface by Kanach, the book is divided into chapters organized by family of instruments. Every instrument of the orchestra is discussed by its practitioner; issues unique to the voice, as well as ensemble and orchestral works are explored, and two contributions concern the performance of Xenakis pioneering electronic works. An appendix of his entire oeuvre with selected discography is included.
See more and order at www.pendragonpress.com