NUNC! 4 Call for Presentations
Part of the Northwestern University New Music Conference
Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 4:00pm
More information about the Northwestern University New Music Conference
Sergio Cote Barco, Elaine Fitz Gibbon, Daniel Tacke, and Ben Zucker present on a variety of topics. This event will be presented via Zoom. Registration is free and open to the public.
The (Un)Avoidable Force of Knowledge: Repetition, Canon Formation, and Ideology in Alvin Lucier’s Music for Solo Performer and Marina Abramovic’s Seven Easy Pieces
Sergio Cote Barco
Coney Island’s Strange Doubling: Music, Theater, and Uncanny Bodies in Steven Takasugi’s ‘Sideshow’
Elaine Fitz Gibbon
Expressive Performance Practice in Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s ‘Shades of Silence’
im in ur discipline, making u music: Jennifer Walshe’s Composition of the Digital Everyday
Abstract - “The (Un)Avoidable Force of Knowledge: Repetition, Canon Formation, and Ideology in Alvin Lucier’s Music for Solo Performer and Marina Abramovic’s Seven Easy Pieces”
Descriptions of institutions as nesting environments, together with the power they exercise in people’s life, portray an omnipotent collective will comparable to an unavoidable faith granted by gods. This approach, however, proposes “an unacceptable view of human agency,” according to Mary Douglas. As sociological functionalism, this perspective leaves no space for a subjective experience or will. This presentation will deal with two cases of artistic creation that, while appearing within certain institutions, present tensions with the normalizing forces of that establishment. These cases consist of Alvin Lucier’s Music for Solo Performer, which was first performed by the composer himself in 1965, and Marina Abramovic’s Seven Easy Pieces, which she premiered in 2007. The focus of my discussion will be on repetition, which I draw out into two possibilities: as normalizing force or as resistance to it. I will base my argument about repetition as a normalizing force on Louis Althusser’s ideas of Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. I will then turn to Badiou’s writing on the formation of knowledge and truth in relation to status quo and event, respectively. Moreover, together with Peter Hallward’s reading of Badiou, and Badiou’s Ethics, the argument will move into the concept of repetition as resistance in which the construction and decisions on documentation and scores play a fundamental role.
Abstract - “Coney Island’s Strange Doubling: Music, Theater, and Uncanny Bodies in Steven Takasugi’s ‘Sideshow’”
The year 2009 marked a radical change for the Japanese American composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi (b. 1960). Before composing Sideshow (2009–2015), a work of music theater for amplified octet and electronic playback, Takasugi had exclusively written electronic music to be experienced in an environment of solitude, devoid of any sensory input aside from the sounds emanating from headphones. Sideshow takes as its subject Coney Island’s hallucinatory spectacle of pleasure and gruesome theatricality, being as Takasugi describes, “a meditation on virtuosity, freak shows, entertainment, spectacle, business, and the sacrifices one makes to survive in the world.” Takasugi is part of a recent group of new music composers referred to as the New Discipline, founded by Irish composer Jennifer Walshe in 2016, who have made an anxiety-laden return to theater. Joining together the sublime excesses of Coney Island ca. 1910s and pre-WWI Vienna through the aphorisms of satirist Karl Kraus, Sideshow reflects on the violence of theatrical spectacle, implicating audience members and the music industry in its carnivalesque critique of contemporary New Music consumption and politics. In my paper, I discuss Sideshow’s staging of gruesome self-sacrifice in order to demonstrate what is at stake in this return to theater. Engaging with Seth Brodsky’s recent psychoanalytic interrogation of modernism and its structures of repression, and with the model of modernism’s community-oriented cosmopolitanism articulated by Brigid Cohen in her work on Stefan Wolpe, I historically position the New Discipline’s return to theatricality nearly a half-century after 1968. Additionally, I demonstrate how an understanding of this explicitly political, theatrical turn contributes to recent work on affect and embodiment in contemporary American music.
Abstract - “Expressive Performance Practice in Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s ‘Shades of Silence’”
The use of specialized instrumental idiom to explore the expressive and structural potential of sonority has become relatively commonplace in contemporary music, yet effective meeting points between “extended techniques” and more conventional musical practices remain elusive, and the ways in which a composer confronts these distances often become a powerful source of inspiration and identity within a work. In Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Shades of Silence, composed in 2012 for the early music group Nordic Affect, these questions are raised within the specialized arena of historical performance practice. This paper explores some of the ways in which Thorvaldsdottir’s work articulates and integrates these seemingly conflicting worlds to create a powerfully expressive performance practice rooted in a syntax of fragility and memory, both in its material content as well as in its networks of developmental correspondence. The resulting work is at once isolating and engaging, an invitation not only to become immersed in the unique sonorous qualities of the music, but also to experience familiar things in unfamiliar ways and, in so doing, to enter into a dialogue of new possibilities with the “conventional” music of the past.
Abstract - “im in ur discipline, making u music: Jennifer Walshe’s Composition of the Digital Everyday”
Jennifer Walshe’s recent compositional output, especially as informed by her concept of “Post-Internet Music,” is one of many compositional discourses that seeks to use the sounds of everyday life. In this presentation, I set works by Walshe, namely Everything Is Important and Church Of Frequency & Protein, in analytic dialogue with studies on musical temporality, namely Jonathan Kramer’s analysis of moment form and ‘vertical time’ as technological analogy, as well as works from media studies on the temporality of new media forms such as the GIF. I contend that Walshe’s formal on large and small scales reinforces and aligns with the contemporary appearance of her material, giving performers and audiences more than a surface-level comprehension of the modern era. By doing so through musical analysis, I hope to draw attention to technical aspects of Walshe’s composing and performing (beyond the conceptual approach common in many current studies), and situate its use of ‘modern’ temporality amongst other discourses of ‘everydayness’ in new music, such as the TV operas of Robert Ashley and the works of contemporary diesseitgkeit composers.
Sergio Cote BarcoClose
Sergio Cote studied composition in Bogota, Colombia (2006-2011) in the Javeriana University with Guillermo Gaviria and Carlos Julio Ramirez. In 2015 he undertook his Master’s degree in composition at the Royal Northern College of Music Manchester, UK, under the tutelage of David Horne and Adam Gorb. He has had additional lessons with Magnus Lindberg, Brian Ferneyhough, Javier Torres-Maldonado, and Pierluigi Billone. His music has been performed and commissioned worldwide by ensembles such as International Ensemble Modern Academy, Neopercusión, Taller-Sonoro, Mise-en Ensemble, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia; and soloist as Juanjo Guillem, Marco Ignoti and Silvia Lucas. He has been awarded the Colombian National Prize for Young Composers (2011), the Royal Northern College of Music Gold Medal, and the Scholarship to the Creation of Contemporary Music awarded by the Colombian Ministry of Culture in 2014. His is currently enrolled in the DMA in composition at Cornell University studying with Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri and Kevin Ernste.
Elaine Fitz GibbonClose
Elaine Fitz Gibbon received her MA in German Studies from Princeton and her BA from the University of Pennsylvania in Musicology and German Studies. She also holds a Diploma of Advanced Studies in music journalism from the Musik Akademie Basel. Her interests are focused on transatlantic trends and relations of opera, music theater and electro-acoustic music of the avant-garde from 1945 to today.
The recent works of composer Daniel Tacke have focused on expanded vocabularies of sound and structure growing from explorations of instrumental idiom, the poetics of notation, human embodiment and memory in the experience of listening, and intersections between contemporary and historical practices of composition and performance. He is a member of the American Composers Alliance, and his music has been performed and recorded in the United States and abroad by Ensemble Bonne Action, Chartreuse, Earplay, Ensemble Echoi, the Formalist Quartet, the Kenners, the Palimpsest New Music Ensemble, the Red Light New Music Ensemble, and TAK, among others. He studied composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of California at San Diego and has held professorships at Oberlin Conservatory, Arkansas State University, and Hillsdale College, teaching music theory, composition, harpsichord, and directing performances of contemporary and historical music.
Ben Zucker is a composer, improviser, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist, using the voice, percussion, piano, brass instruments, synthesizers and programming, and movement and performance art to create constellations of conceptual and stylistic relations. His work crosses and intentionally plays with genre and discipline; it has been performed by artists including the Mivos Quartet, Apartment House, New York Virtuoso Singers, Distractfold Ensemble, and Rinde Eckert. He was recognized as a “New Composer Talent” by the International Audio Branding Academy, and his work has won awards from the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, C4 Collective, San Francisco Choral Artists, and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Additionally, he maintains an active career as a vocalist, trumpeter, pianist, and percussionist performing jazz, new music, and improvisations solo and with ensembles around the world, including performances with Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford, Notes Inegales, Luciano Chessa, as a founding member of The Improviser’s Choir, electro-salsa collective Arcadio, and the Apres-Garde Ensemble, and on solo records released on Not Art Records and Verz Imprint. Ben received a BA in music and critical theory at Wesleyan University, and recently completed postgraduate studies at Brunel University London with Jennifer Walshe and Christopher Fox.