Density 2036: part i (prelude)
Steve Reich: Vermont Counterpoint for flute and pre-recorded flutes (1981)
Marcos Balter: Pessoa for six bass flutes (2013)
Alvin Lucier: Almost New York for five flutes and oscillators (2007)
Philip Glass: Piece in the Shape of a Square (1967) for 2 flutes
Mario Diaz de León: Luciform for flute and electronics (2013)
Edgard Varèse: Density 21.5 for flute alone (1936)
Density 2036: part i (prelude) is dedicated to Fred Anderson.
Program Note/Composer bios below
PART I (2013, Prelude)
I call Part I the “prelude” because the project was a seedling of an idea but hadn’t quite found its form yet. I had just released the album Density, a sonic migration of progressively receding flute-forces beginning with a mass of 10 flutes in Steve Reich’s frolicsome Vermont Counterpoint (1982), to six bass flutes in Marcos Balter’s meditative Pessoa (2013), to five flutes of various sizes in Alvin Lucier’s aching, pensive Almost New York (2002), to two flutes in Philip Glass’ ebullient Piece in the Shape of a Square (1967), to one flute enhanced with electronics in Mario Diaz de León’s raucous, heavy metal- inspired Luciform (2013), and finally to the stripped down, solitary warhorse herself, that 1936 solo that singlehandedly changed the fate of the flute, transforming it from an instrument of incidental prettiness to one of raw, platinum potency and unbounded beauty.
I had recorded all the individual parts of each of these pieces myself, a kind of torturous exercise in solipsism—one so torturous that I abandoned it several times before rounding up the courage to continue—and I had never imagined that the album, with all of its manicured, rhythmic intricacy born of so many fits and starts in the studio, could live compellingly as a live show. But when it was finished, I wanted to see what would happen if I performed Density the record from start to finish, without breaks, in a kind of woman-versus- machine version, with the solo line from each track performed live over the pre-recorded tracks, and with Varèse at the bitter end, bare and unadorned.
On October 3, 2013 at The Kitchen in New York City, Levy Lorenzo and I played the show, with lighting design by the visual artist and director David Michalek, who in true low- budget downtown experimental theater fashion constructed a brilliant, malleable light sculpture made up of parking-lot fluorescent tubes. The day after that concert, it was immediately clear to me that the album was just a prelude, or a muse—a toe-dip into a much deeper dive that was calling me to create expansive new environments and experiences for the explosion of the flute repertory, and for the explosion of this little tube of metal. Density 2036 was born.
Described as “sumptuous” (Los Angeles Times), “minutely crafted” (Chicago Tribune), and “spellbinding” (New York Times), Marcos Balter’s music is primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance. With recent appearances at Carnegie Hall, Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, and Sala São Paulo, his upcoming projects include collaborations with Bill T. Jones, yMusic, ICE, Deerhoof, and Sound Icon. Winner of Harvard’s Fromm Composition Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim, Tanglewood/Leonard Bernstein, and Civitella Ranieri foundations, he is an Associate Professor of Music Composition at Montclair State University. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he currently lives in New York City.
Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai, China, currently based in New York, is a composer, performer and performance artist, working at the intersection of orchestral, opera, chamber music, theatre, cabaret, pop music, oral tradition, visual arts, electronics and noise. Hailed by the New York Times as a leading figure in China’s new generation of composers and often cited as a key activist in New York's "new movement in new music," Du Yun's music is championed by some of today's finest performing artists, ensembles orchestras and organizations Known as "protean' and "chameleonic," the National Public Radio voted her as 100 composers under 40 in 2011. Her music can be heard on New Focus, Oxingale and Deutsche Grammophon. In 2014 she was appointed as the artistic director of MATA, a pioneering international festival dedicated to commissioning and presenting young composers from around the world under age 40.
Edgard Varèse (1883-1965) was a French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. Varèse's music emphasizes timbre and rhythm and he coined the term "organized sound" in reference to his own musical aesthetic. Although his complete surviving works only last about three hours, he has been recognised as an influence by several major composers of the late 20th century. Varèse saw potential in using electronic mediums for sound production, and his use of new instruments and electronic resources led to his being known as the "Father of Electronic Music."
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steve Reich (b. 1936) has been called "America’s greatest living composer" (The Village VOICE) and "...among the great composers of the century" (New York Times). He is a leading pioneer of Minimalism, and his music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons. From his early taped speech pieces It's Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot's digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Reich's path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music and received his M.A. in Music from Mills College.
Alvin Lucier (b. 1931), a native of Nashua, New Hampshire is widely considered to be one of the most influential composers of the twentieth century. Lucier actively performs, lectures, and exhibits his sound installations in the US, Europe, and Asia. He was a founding member with Robert Ashley, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma of the Sonic Arts Union, a musical collective of experimental musicians that was active between 1966–76. Lucier taught at Brandeis University, where he conducted the Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, which devoted much of its time to the performance of new music. From 1970–2011, he was John Spencer Camp Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, where he is professor emeritus. Lucier holds degrees from Yale University and Brandeis University, as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Plymouth University.
Mario Diaz de Leon
Mario Diaz de Leon is a composer and performer, whose works have been described as “21st century chamber music that couples crystalline clarity with the disorienting turbulence of a sonic vortex” (Wire Magazine). Born in Minnesota in 1979, he grew up playing guitar in hardcore punk and metal bands before attending Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied electronic music and composition. He has lived in in New York City since 2004, and received his doctorate in music composition from Columbia University in 2013. “The Soul is the Arena”, his most recent album with ICE, was released on the Denovali label in July 2015.
One of America's most celebrated composers, Philip Glass (b. 1937) applied his musical encounters in India, North Africa, and the Himalayas to his own compositions and, by 1974, had created a large body of work in a distinct idiom. His early music inspired pieces by the Mabou Mines theater company, which he co-founded; he later formed his own performing group, the Philip Glass Ensemble. This period reached its apogee with Einstein on the Beach, a landmark in 20th-century music-theater. Glass' work since that groundbreaking piece has included opera, film scores, dance music, symphonic work, string quartets, and unclassifiable work such as The Photographer/Far From the Truth and 1000 Airplanes on the Roof. He studied at the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School of Music.