40 Years Of Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company

mother-mallardMother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co, a pioneering synthesizer ensemble from the early days of synthesizers, is playing a free concert tonight to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Mother Mallard presented its first concert in spring 1969. The group was founded by David Borden and has been recognized as the world’s first synthesizer ensemble. The first concert took place in Barnes Hall on the Cornell campus, and each piece on that concert was an Ithaca premiere, including a few by Morton Feldman and John Cage. The 40th anniversary concert will take place in Barnes Hall at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 29.

Three pieces will be given world premieres, with the featured work being Viola Farber in 7 Movements with live video showing Farber’s dancing and choreography both as a soloist and with her company. In addition, a section from Borden’s The Continuing Story of Counterpoint, composed in 1979, will receive its first performance. And finally, a piece honoring Jimmy Giuffre, the gifted jazz composer and clarinetist/saxophonist will be premiered. Giuffre was Borden’s first composition teacher who died last April at the age of 87.

Performing on this concert will be keyboardists David Yearsley, Blaise Bryski, Josh Oxford and David Borden, with Gabriel Borden on electric guitar. Live video is by Noni Korf Vidal and Franck Vidal.

The concert is free and open to the public. Visit music.cornell.edu or call 255-4760 for more information.

Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company

Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co. was formed in 1969 in Ithaca, NY as an ensemble dedicated to performing music not heard in the Ithaca area. It performed pieces by Robert Ashley, John Cage, Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich and others. In less than a year, it developed into a live synthesizer ensemble, considered to be the first one in the world.

The group performed their own pieces for an RMI Electric Piano, three modular Moogs and two MiniMoogs, including the prototype which is now on display at the Audities Foundation at the Chinook Keyboard Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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