Alvin Curran & Bob Gluck

Produced by
Electronic Music Foundation

Alvin Curran
Bob Gluck
The Electronic Shofar

Saturday, February 3, 2007 8pm
Judson Church
55 Washington Square South

This concert addresses the question of whether tradition can be re-interpreted in the context of a modern, technology-based world. Bob Gluck writes: "The shofar, a ram's horn, is an ancient Jewish instrument. It was used in biblical times to send signals in times of war and to declare the arrival of sacred dates. Today its use is limited to ritual function during the days preceding and including the Jewish New Year and at the end of the Day of Atonement, where its sounds are understood as a wake-up call to self-reflection and repentance. Yet it is also poignant as it also references biblical narratives and invokes thoughts of power beyond human comprehension."

PROGRAM


Shofar III
    Shofar, electronics, and MIDI keyboard) .....................................................................Alvin Curran

Ssshofar (2005)...............................................................................................................Bob Gluck

Shofarot (2007)...............................................................................................................Bob Gluck

Electric Brew (2006) / Shofarrr (2005)..............................................................................Bob Gluck

ABOUT THE ARTISTS


ALVIN CURRAN

Alvin Curran, internationally renowned composer and performer of experimental music, has been pioneering new directions in instrumental and electronic music since 1965, when he co-founded Musica Elettronica Viva with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum. His music has been played throughout the world by such performers as the Kronos Quartet, Ursula Oppens, Eve Egoyan, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Kathy Supove the California EAR Unit, San Francisco Chamber Players, and Ars Ludi, among many others. In 1990, in collaboration with artist Melissa Gould, Curran created a series of sound installations, including Floor Plan (exhibited at Ars Electronica Linz), and Kaboom (exhibited at Mass MOCA). He has received awards and prizes from BMI (1963), National Endowment for the Arts (1977 and 1983), National Public Radio Satellite Distribution Project (1983-4), the Fromm Foundation (Harvard University, 1998), Meet the Composer (1995), as well as the Ars Acoustica International Prize (Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne, 1989), and the Prix Italia (special award l988). From 1975-80, Curran taught vocal improvisation at the Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica (Rome) and from 1991 to 2006 was the Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California. He currently teaches privately in Rome.


BOB GLUCK

Bob Gluck is a pianist, composer and performer of music for live electronic music systems and interactive sound installation. He is also a historical writer and a Reconstructionist rabbi. Gluck's performances feature works for computer-assisted and electronically expanded instruments including the piano, shofar and baglama saz. Gluck's installation works include 'Layered Histories,' with Cynthia Rubin, (2004) and 'Sounds of a Community' (2001 - 2002). His work has been performed and shown in Boston, New York City, Montreal, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Prague, Miami, Bucharest, Berlin, and at Dartmouth, Brown, Bard, Bennington, Middlebury, Johns Hopkins, University of California at San Diego and at Irvine, and at Keele (UK) and other universities. His essays have been published in Leonardo Music Journal, Organized Sound, Journal SEAMUS, Leonardo, Living Music Journal, The Reconstructionist, Tav+, and the EMF Institute. His recordings include 'Electric Brew' (2007), 'Stories Heard and Retold' (1998), 'Electric Songs' (2003) and 'Electric Brew.' Gluck's musical training is from the Julliard, Manhattan, and Crane schools of Music, the State University of New York at Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Electronic Music Studio at The University at Albany, and Associate Director at the Electronic Music Foundation.


ABOUT THE MUSIC

Shofar III

Shofar is history plain and simple. No trills, Zero Carbs. Onethousandninehundredsixtyeight B.C., students from the Ganges to the Euphrates, from the Yangtze to the Jordan to the Nile, from the Don to the Amazon, the Donau to the Mississippi all sat down, sat in, jumped up, struck, occupied, smoked dope and blew their shofars. They beat drums and sang ancient rhythmical invocations:

Sofa Sufi So-far Shofar/ Shofar Zuppa Show-biz Zohar/ Show me the way to the next willow tree/ Inshallah insofar in Sofia / no be by the sea /by the say can you see.

The rhythms of this ancient verse have plagued and inspired musicians ever since: Their basic molecular structures have made us moderns mambo, jive, samba, jig, minuette, jump, grind, twist, contract, dozie-doe, cakewalk, lindyhop, plie, foxtrot, hucklebuck, rock... They remind us, too, that a long time ago we all stood up in tall grasses and slowly danced out of Africa, and that we all blew conch shells and shofars long before the advent of the Zink, Adolphe Saxe or theme parks of the Yamaha instrument-globalizers.


Ssshofar/Shofarot/Shofarrr

Ssshofar, Shofarrr and Shofarot were composed for the live electronic performance systems eShofar I (2001), eShofar II (2005) and eShofar III (2007). The systems consist of a traditional Jewish ritual object, the ram's horn, around which software interfaces have been custom designed.

In Ssshofar, for the eShofar I system, the sounds played on the shofar are recorded in real-time, digitally filtered, and multi-layered. The processing is controlled by finger movements, within a sensor glove, tapped on the body of the shofar. Digital processing of sounds allows one to listen 'inside' the sound of the shofar, as multiple layers of sounds accumulate and overlap. At times, additional pre-recorded sound materials, largely cantorial, are added to the mix, triggered by the shofar blasts. The performer shapes the overall density of the resulting eleven channel sound collage using a small mixer.