Japp Blonk in performance (from the Festival home page)
This year the annual Other Minds Festival will fill the first full week of next month, running from April 9 through April 14. The title of Festival 23 will be Sound Poetry: The Wages of Syntax. This will be an ambitious undertaking, which will include visits from some of the great European masters of sound poetry such as Japp Blonk, Enzo Minarelli, Sten Sandell, and Tone Åse. The schedule will also feature some of the best of the Bay Area’s own practitioners, such as Amy X Neuburg, Mark Applebaum, Pamela Z, Susan Stone, and Sheila Davies Sumner, as well as Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian.
The week has been planned to present a perspective of both past and present. There will be several major “legacy” offerings, including the United States premiere of the three-movement reconstructed concert version of Ernst Toch’s Gesprochene Musik (spoken music) suite, a rare performance of Virgil Thomson’s “Capital Capitals,” setting a text by Gertrude Stein, Bernard Heidsieck’s tape composition “La Poinçonneuse” (punch press), Åke Hodell’s politically scathing “Mr. Smith in Rhodesia,” and Kurt Schwitters’ “Ursonate.” In addition, three of the five concerts to be offered will present world premieres, while the final concert of the Festival will offer a San Francisco premiere. A brief summary of each of those concerts, along with the wordplay of their respective titles, is as follows:
Monday, April 9, Opening Gala: There will be world premiere performances of two Minarelli compositions, “Ptyx (Tribute to Mallarmé)” and “With sound the poem express what words cannot.” There will also be a world premiere of “Just About Out of Nowhere,” composed jointly by Clark Coolidge and Alvin Curran. The featured composer will be Anne Waldman, who will be joined by percussionist Karen Stackpole for one of her selections.
Wednesday, April 11, The History Channel: The world premiere will be of Laurence Wechsler’s “Medical Fugue,” conceived as a “response” to the “call” of Toch’s “Geographical Fugue,” one of the movements of his Gesprochene Musik. These pieces will be performed by the vocalists of the Other Minds Ensemble, tenors Kevin Baum and Randall Wong, baritone Joel Chapman, and bass Sidney Chen, joined by both Neuburg and Z. The Other Minds Ensemble men will also be joined by pianist Sarah Cahill to perform “Capital Capitals,” which was one of the selections on last year’s release from Other Minds Records, Composer-Critics of the New York Herald Tribune. The program will begin with Minarelli performing selected works by Italian Futurists Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Fortunato Depero and will also include Blonk performing the Schwitters’ “Ursonate.”
Thursday, April 12, Scandalnavians: The world premieres will be of Åse’s “Ka?” and “Voices inside the Language,” the latter a joint work with Sandell. The program will also begin with the American debut of OTTARAS, the duo of visual poet Ottar Ormstad and composer Taras Mashtalir. They will present the United States premiere of “4CONCRETE.” The remainder of this program will be devoted to tape music, including “Mr. Smith in Rhodesia.”
Friday, April 13, Good Luck With/On/For/In/At: Neuburg will celebrate Friday the Thirteenth with her world premiere performance of “Say it like you mean.” This program will feature Amirkhanian’s work, both three collaborations with Carol Law and three of his pieces for voice with tape. The program will also include pieces by Applebaum and Minarelli.
Saturday, April 14, Saturday, Ink Conclusion: Z will give the San Francisco premiere of her “Other Rooms.” Beth Anderson will be joined by percussionist Michael Jones for her set of three pieces. The other composers on the program will include Stone, Blonk, and Sheila Davies Sumner.
All concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the ODC Theatre, which is located at 3153 17th Street on the northwest corner of Shotwell Street. This will also be the venue for the special offerings on Tuesday, grouped collectively under the title No Poets Don’t Own Words. At 3 p.m. Minarelli will deliver the lecture “The History of Sound Poetry;” and at 7 p.m. Blonk will lead a sound poetry workshop.
There are a variety of options for tickets. The Festival Package, which covers all of the concerts and the two Tuesday events, will cost $150 for general admission with a $100 rate for students. Single tickets for the Opening Gala will be $50 with a $40 rate for students. For the remaining four concerts, general admission will be $30 with a $15 rate for students and seniors. Admission to Blonk’s workshop will be $15 with a $5 rate for students, and Minarelli’s lecture will be free of charge.
The Other Minds Web site has created a URL that provides all necessary information. This includes hyperlinks for all options for purchasing tickets. In addition each performance (including those on Tuesday) has its own hyperlink to a summary of what will be taking place. Since even the best-laid of plans sometimes have to deal with last-minute changes, these will probably be the best sites for finding the latest information.