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In spite of the Zen-based equanimity that John Cage could bring to just about any adverse situation, every now and then he would let down his guard far enough to acknowledge an annoyance or two. One of those annoyances even made it into his writing. This was his frustration with those who would come up to him and ask, after one of his performances, “But is it music?” Cage eventually worked out a reply to the effect that, if you did not want to use the noun “music,” the noun phrase “organized sound” would do well enough.
The next concert coming to the Composers in Performance Series curated by the Meridian Gallery and held at the Canessa Gallery seems to have been conceived with that phrase in mind. Each of the three sets may be approached in terms of its own characteristic approaches to organizing some body of sonorous material. Two of the sets will be solos. The remaining set is a duo in which the nature of organization will also take into account the need for interpersonal interaction.
The members of that duo will be Wayne Grim and Rachel Smith. Grim currently curates and produces sound works for the Exploratorium. He can be called a sound artist, thus accounting for approaches to organization that are more likely to be encountered in the visual arts while applying them to what Pierre Schaeffer called “sonorous objects.” Similarly, Smith works as an artist in both the audio and visual domains, working with techniques that involve both ambient soundscapes and synthesis techniques based on chaos theory. Since both of them are interested in how communication takes place through sound, their duo performance should provide an opportunity to see how they communicate with each other through their respective approaches.
The first of the solo set performers will be Michael Gendreau. For Gendreau organization emerges from the use of existing physical objects and/or phenomena. For example, prior to a performance he will analyze the resonant frequencies of the space in which he will be performing. He can then bring those frequencies to audibility and use them as a “continuo” for any of the other sounds he produces during the performance. (Pauline Oliveros pursued a similar idea in a composition she prepared for Merce Cunningham’s dance “Canfield.”)
The other soloist will be local artist Thomas Dimuzio. Dimuzio has a solid command of sound synthesis through both analog and digital gear. However, he also adds physical objects to the mix. This allows him to take the pioneering work in musique concrète (all of which was tape music) as a point of departure and reconceive those techniques in the service of real-time performance and improvisation.
This concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 13. The Canessa Gallery is located at 708 Montgomery Street, right on the “border” between the Financial District and North Beach. Admission is usually between $5 and $15, payable at the door and/or collected between sets.