Yarn/Wire: Cheung, Diaz, Lou

Thursday, August 24, 2023
7:30 pm

Mary Flagler Cary Hall

James Diaz
negative mercury, 2022-23
for piano, percussion, and electronics

Michelle Lou
Different Furs, 2017

Anthony Cheung
Tactile Values, 2023*
Commissioned by The Earle Brown Music Foundation Charitable Trust
* world premiere


Laura Barger, piano
Julia Den Boer, piano
Russell Greenberg, percussion
Sae Hashimoto, percussion

Concert duration: approximately one hour fifteen minutes

Mary Flagler Cary Hall
DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 W 37th Street
New York, NY 10018

More About
James Diaz
Michelle Lou
Anthony Cheung


Program Notes

Michelle Lou
Different Furs (2017)

With the idea to compose a relational, contextual listening experience, I was thinking about this idea of acousmatic listening. Pierre Schaeffer used the concept of the so-called Pythagorean Veil—which was believed to be a strategy for Pythagoras to deliver more effective speeches from behind a curtain so that attention would be more focused on what is being heard, not being seen. Schaeffer used the Pythagorean Veil to help conceive of the sound object and reduced listening. For Schaeffer, the Pythagorean Veil is technology. With audio technology, he believed that he could manipulate field recordings to  the point where sounds for themselves could be appreciated phenomenally outside of their sources, and by listening over loudspeakers which make us blind to the sources of these sounds, this further reifies this concept. I wanted to play with Schaeffer’s claim.

In electroacoustic music, one can exploit the possibility of a multivalent experience through electronic means, which can offer another perspective of the live acoustic material and offers the opportunity to further distort the acoustic space and add another discursive element. I extend these relationships in my work, placing the auditor in an active listening space. The introduction of the mechanical puppet adds an additional layer of information, whose perpetual clacking of walking is amplified and presented throughout the entire work as it functions as a hidden rhythmic drone that suggests conflicting dualities—movement and stasis—and although ever present, it can disappear from one’s attention only to reappear.

These opposites shift their context during the work. It also serves as an intervention: the pulling back of the veil to reveal the cause of the clacking sound is a way of playing with acousmatic listening, allowing the sound to connect and complete itself through vision, even though this vision is still baffling. Why is there a puppet? Interventions in my work come as a kind of paradigm shift in the world of the piece—challenging its own comportment and shifting whatever ideas it may have been proposing to the listener. In Different Furs, the puppet itself can represent many things: the drone, acousmatic sound, a rupture and destabilizing figure in the fabric of the piece, the mirroring of its mechanical nature to the performative electronics and devices that hybridize the performers, and also as an appeal to the sense of play.

Yarn/Wire. Photo: Mark Sommerfeld

James Diaz
negative mercury (2022–23)

The piece’s title is intentionally open-ended and ambiguous, allowing multiple meanings and interpretations. The title reflects the temporal ambiguities and multidimensional nature of the piece, which explores the intersections and boundaries between acoustic and digital sound with two pianos, multi-percussion, samples, and live processing. Throughout the work, the transformation of color and texture serves as a metaphor for time warping as its constant presence takes the listener on a sonic collapsing journey through different temporal dimensions.

Anthony Cheung
Tactile Values (2023)

Painting is an art which aims at giving an abiding impression of artistic reality with only two dimensions. The painter must, therefore, do consciously what we all do unconsciously—construct his third dimension. And he can accomplish his task only as we accomplish ours, by giving tactile values to retinal impressions. — Bernard Berenson

. . . Paint is the power of extending whatever you see or feel, of intensifying it, of reshaping it. So I wanted the bodies to be turning into tactile sensations of flickers. And . . . you get lost in the frame—to move the body in and out of its own frame, to move the eye in and out of the body so it could see everything it wanted to, but would also be in a state of dissolution, optically, resembling some aspect of the erotic sensation in the body which is not a literal translation. It is a painterly, tactile translation edited as a music of frames. — Carolee Schneemann

Carolee Schneemann. Video still from Fuses, 1964–66

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