Digital Music in the 21st Century

The Cornell Department of Music is hosting “The State of the Art: Perspectives on Digital Music in the 21st Century” – a major series oflectures and performances scheduled for September 10-18, 2004, on the Cornell University campus.

The events will feature guest speakers, composers, and performers from the Eastman School of Music, Hamilton College, IRCAM, Princeton  U.C. Berkeley, and U.C .San Diego, including such luminaries as composer Paul Lansky, software pioneer Miller Puckette (MAX/Msp), and violist John Graham. This festival/conference is sponsored by the Department of Music, with support from the Cornell Cinema, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

A full schedule is available at the Cornell Music site.

The majority of events takes place September 16-18 at various
locations. David Wessel will deliver the Composers’ Forum from 1:25 to
3:00 PM; following a break, an informal discussion on the future of
technology in music will ensue (both events in B20 Lincoln Hall).
Professor Wessel holds the Jerry and Evelyn Hemmings Chambers Chair in
Music at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is director
of the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies. His research
interests include musical applications of computer and related
technologies, music perception and cognition, composition and
improvisation, and interactive live performance.

“The State of the Art” resumes on Thursday, September 16th when
Benjamin Thigpen delivers his talk, “dividing by zero” (4:30-5:45 PM,
B21 Lincoln Hall). Thigpen was Musical Assistant at IRCAM (l’Institut
de Recherche et de Coordination Musique/Acoustique, founded by composer
and conductor Pierre Boulez) until the summer of 2004, when he returned
to the United States.

Events for Friday, September 17th include presentations by two
Princeton University faculty members and a concert. From 1:30-2:45 PM,
Perry R. Cook presents “New Controllers for Musical Expression,” and
Paul Lansky speaks about “The Death of Computer Music” (both take place
in B20 Lincoln Hall). Perry Cook was closely associated with Stanford’s
Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), until
joining the computer science department at Princeton in 1996, where he
also holds an affiliated appointment in music.

A funny thing happened to Paul Lansky on the way to the computer.
Originally expecting to be caught up in the search for “new sounds” and
“unknown soundworlds,” he instead became much more interested in human
sounds and the noise of the world around us. Since the early 70s he has
been using the computer as a kind of aural microscope on this
world-noise. His Six Fantasies on a Poem by Thomas Campion, widely
regarded as a landmark work in computer music, takes us on a journey to
the inner world of poetry and speech. His music has been widely heard
and performed in the United States, Europe and Australia, and has been
used extensively by dance troupes, including the well-known Bill T.
Jones/Arnie Zane and Company. Lansky was born in New York City and
flirted with a career as a French horn player (Dorian Quintet 1966-67)
before turning to composition.

On Friday evening, September 17th, at 8:00 PM, “The State of the
Art” moves to the concert hall (Barnes Hall Auditorium) for a program
of four works, by Kevin Ernste of the Eastman School of Music faculty
(Birches), Benjamin Thigpen (incandescence), and Perry R. Cook (COWE
Improvisation III) in the first half, and closing with Jupiter by
Philippe Manoury.

Kevin Ernste’s Birches for viola and electronic sounds was written
as a response to the poem of the same title by the great American poet,
Robert Frost; it features violist John Graham, well known for his
performances and advocacy of new viola repertory, who joined the
Eastman School of Music faculty in 1989. A distinguished musician and
teacher who has performed as soloist and in chamber music ensembles in
the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan and China, Graham was based in
New York City from 1962 to 1989 and was also active as a free-lance
musician in symphonic, chamber, opera, ballet and music theater
orchestras, in many contemporary music concert series, and in recording
for television and motion pictures. He was principal violist of the
American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and in chamber
orchestra with Pablo Casals.

Philippe Manoury’s Jupiter, for flute and real-time electronic
system, was commissioned by IRCAM and premiered there on April 25,
1987. Miller Puckette is responsible for the technical concept, and the
musical assistants were Marc Battier and Cort Lippe. For this
performance, the soloists include Miller Puckette on live electronics
and flute soloist Elizabeth McNutt, who has dedicated herself to new
and adventurous music, commissioning and premiering countless new
works, and becoming an expert interpreter of the masterpieces of the
20th century. Besides her ongoing collaborations with young and
upcoming composers, she has worked with such recognized figures as
Pierre Boulez, Philippe Manoury, Roger Reynolds, Joji Yuasa, and Joan
Tower. Particularly drawn to the new sound worlds of electronic music,
she collaborates intensively with composers and technologists to create
groundbreaking works for flute and live interactive computer systems.
McNutt has given solo recitals, often incorporating electronics, in
Saint Louis, Birmingham, Chicago, San Diego, Providence, Frankfurt, and
other U.S. and European cities. She has performed music for flute and
electronics at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Green Umbrella Series, the
Berkeley Symphony, the National Flute Association Convention, June in
Buffalo Festivals, International Computer Music Conferences, and SEAMUS
National Conferences.

On Saturday morning, September 18th, two lectures will be presented
in the Lecture Hall on the first floor of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum
of Art, with both speakers from the University of California, San
Diego. Philippe Manoury begins at 10:30 AM with “Incidences of
Real-Time Processing in Musical Composition,” followed by “Live
Electronic Music in the Recent Future,” delivered by Miller Puckette at
11:45 AM. Following a lunch break, “The State of the Art” concludes
with a showing of video works at the Willard Straight Theatre (home of
Cornell Cinema) at 2:30 PM. Films by Lauren Koss (music by Samuel
Pellman), Stephanie Maxwell (music by Allan Schindler), and Grady Klein
(music by Paul Lansky) will be presented.

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