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In Review

Barry Schrader, Marc Ainger, Rodney Oakes, Allen Strange

8 iii 1998

Curator, EuCuE Series XVI.07
November 5, 1997
Concordia Concert Hall, Concordia University
Montreal CANADA

In selecting a program for the EuCuE series, I wanted to present recent works by composers whose work I enjoy.

I also wished to have these works be varied as a collection, presenting different aesthetic and technical points of view. Finally I wanted these works to relate to each other in a loose programmatic way. I think that the first two ideas come across to almost any listener: one may safely assume that I would ask composers whose music I liked, and the differences among these four works are boldly obvious. The idea relating these works in my mind is not so apparent. To me, these works are all associated to some kind of memory, each piece dealing with a different type.

My own piece, 816, deals with one of the worst kinds of memory: the recollection of disaster. The title 816  refers to the date August 16, 1996. Late at night, while driving on Interstate 15, near the Zzyzx exit California (Zzyzx is a veritable ghost resort of another age), I was forced to pull off of the road and, while parked on the shoulder, my car was hit from behind by an out-of-control vehicle. The result was a serious wreck which could have cost me my life. It's an experience I'll never forget (or ever remember clearly), and it was doubly shocking because I didn't know it was coming.

The title also refers to the Yamaha TX816, on which the piece was composed.


Marc Ainger's 1956 (Part One)  is a much better kind of memory, that of positive personal reflection. In this case, the recollection is of Ainger's experiences as a child in the southern United States. This section of the piece is, in Marc's words "both an homage to the delta blues and an exposition of the clash between the rural and the urban". It is largely a concrete work, composed in Csound, and, like all good concrete works, simultaneously creates mystery and reference by the materials it employs.

1956 (Part One)

Igor  by Rodney Oakes deals with the memory of a person. In this case it's Igor Grigoriev, a Los Angeles-based jazz guitarist and composer with whom Rod often performs. Beyond being the reminiscence of a person, Igor  is also a musical memory, and Oakes has taken a section of Grigoriev's playing and manipulated it in various ways. This is certainly the most melodic of the four pieces presented in this group, and the most fleeting; for in its extreme brevity, it only makes the listener want to hear more. This work is truly a four pieces presented in this group, and the most fleeting; for in its extreme brevity, it only makes the listener want to hear more. This work is truly a souvenir.


The final work in this set is Allen Strange's Phoenix and the Harlequin. This is, in my mind, the best kind of memory: a cognizance of a cultural fantasy. For while it refers not to things that actually happened but rather to things imagined, it deals with this on the level of cultural memory. Juxtaposing these literary icons, Strange pits them "in a duel of elegance versus wit" to create what he calls theater for the ear. Like 816, Phoenix and the Harlequin  uses electronically generated material, but does so with a much greater range and palette. The imagination and energy of this work make it a fitting and exciting conclusion to the group.

Phoenix and the Harlequin

Barry Schrader's compositions for tape, dance, film, video, multimedia, live/electro-acoustic combinations, and real-time computer performance have been presented throughout the world. Schrader is a founder and the first president of SEAMUS, and has been involved with the initiation and operation of SCREAM, the Currents concert series, and the CalArts Electro-Acoustic Marathon. He has written for several publications including several editions of Grove's, Grollier's Encyclopedia, Contemporary Music Review, and Journal SEAMUS, and is the author of Introduction to Electro-Acoustic Music. He is currently on the Composition Faculty of the School of Music of the California Institute of the Arts, and has also taught at the University of California at Santa Barbara and California State University at Los Angeles. His music is recorded on the Opus One, Laurel, CIRM, and SEAMUS labels.

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