August 2017 Convention
Minneapolis, MN

Electronica

Carla Rees

 

This Friday early-morning concert included music in a variety of aesthetic styles that incorporated both fixed media and live interactive electronics. Several of the composers were in attendance. Especially compelling were works by Elainie Lillios and Scott Miller, and the final work by Richard Karpen gave an interesting taste of some “retro” electronic sounds from the 1980s.

The Lillios piece, “Sleep’s Undulating Tide,” was performed by Lindsey Goodman, who confidently executed singing and speaking sections as well as playing flute. During this piece, I was thinking about how many options electronic music gives us; you can have not only a whole invisible orchestra, but virtually a whole landscape, a whole world, onstage with you.

Miller’s “Anterior/Interior” for alto flute was performed by Carla Rees with Miller onstage at a laptop running and monitoring the electronics. It included beautiful multiphonics for alto flute, and the composer later shared that he consulted with Rees on fingerings, etc. I found Miller’s electronics part the most interesting on the program, both in terms of the sounds created and of its varied and interactive relationship with the flute part.

Elise Blatchford introduced and performed Richard Karpen’s “Exchange,” which was written in 1987 using one of the early prototype computers at Stanford, now in the Smithsonian museum. She described it as a “vintage” work that uses pure computer- generated sound rather than musique concrète techniques, which use recorded sounds as raw materials.

Overall, the electronics ran well and there were very few problems. Balance seemed to be an issue at times—I thought the electronics were too loud in some places—but in general I thought it was a very successful concert and am glad that the NFA has been making some changes that make it easier to program works with electronics at the convention, since these are such a rich part of our contemporary repertoire.

—Wayla J. Chambo