Bits, Bytes, and Boulders | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bits, Bytes, and Boulders 

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BITS, BYTES, AND BOULDERS

What does "electronic music" mean nowadays, when just about every composer under 50 works on a synthesizer and electronic gizmos have liberated almost all musicians from the confines of acoustical space? This concert, a survey of some recent trends grown from the postwar tradition of electronic music, doesn't offer any ready answers. Organized by Christopher Preissing, who got a master's in music from the University of Illinois in the early 90s, it instead points in a bewildering variety of directions. The program--consisting mainly of works by Preissing's fellow graduates--reflects the anything-goes mentality encouraged in the U. of I.'s experimental music program by its longtime guru, Salvatore Martirano, whose Phleu for Amplified Flute and Synthetic Orchestra, a classic of schematic randomness, is also included. It's an obvious inspiration for Preissing's own Jeu de l'Oie, a taped composition he'll play back here: numbers on the squares of a children's board game are randomly matched with pitches collected in a sampler; a roll of the dice determines the sequence of sounds. Preissing then layers on words from "Jabberwocky." In Donnacha Dennehy's Metropolis Mutabilis, sounds of a city, at first inchoate, gradually become rhythmical, surging into cacophony reminiscent of Varese's raucous urban soundscapes. But the most old-fashioned--and yet most arresting--work of the batch is Amnon Wolman's Nautilus, which premiered only a decade ago. (Wolman, who's in charge of the computer-music lab at Northwestern, has also done time at Stanford, another citadel of electroacoustic experimentation.) The piece combines several tried-and-true elements--tape playback, live performers, synthesized sounds, poetic text--in a demonstration of echo and synchronism that mimics uncoiling memory, a tour de force that couldn't be as emotionally involving without the aid of electronics. It'll be performed by members of the University of Illinois Contemporary Chamber Singers. Other soloists include bassoonist Charles Lipp and flutist Lisa Goethe. Saturday, 3 PM, I-Space Gallery, 230 W. Superior; 312-587-9976. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Amnon Wolman photo/ uncredited.

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