Howard Sandroff | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Howard Sandroff 


When it comes to the use of electronics and computers in his music, Howard Sandroff often checks out the new tricks of other electronic-music mavens and then picks those that suit his own aesthetic purpose--which is to get a listener emotionally involved in the mechanics of construction, of hearing elemental sounds emerge, coalesce, then evaporate. In extending and manipulating the range of traditional acoustic instruments, Sandroff has stayed close to MIT--a bastion of electronic arts now and 20 years ago, when he studied there--and to Pierre Boulez's lab in Paris. His 1990 composition for clarinet and computer, Tephillah--part of an ongoing collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's John Bruce Yeh--is a marvel of intricacy and aural reverberation that manages to evoke religious solemnity. Last year, at the request of local flutist Mary Stolper, Sandroff came up with another ambitious piece in a similar vein for the flute, Chants des Femmes, which he conceived after being surrounded by a crowd of women chattering in a rural dialect of French. Not understanding a word, he became intrigued with "the myriad articulations that hinted at some abstract organizations." For this performance--on a program highlighting the latest trends in electronic music, presented as part of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts--Sandroff uses three live flutes and a computer spitting out prerecorded passages to replicate his experience of hearing but not comprehending, of zeroing in on a strand of sound in a chorus. Stolper, who's performed the piece seven times in one year, says its imaginativeness, breathtaking complexity, and lyrical beauty have won her over to the electronic frontier. Among the other trailblazers on the program are Bruce Mahin, James Dashow, and Craig Harris. Friday, 8 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; 312-397-4010. TED SHEN

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

Get our free weekly Early Warnings newsletter đź’Ś

It’s Chicago’s essential months-ahead music calendar straight to your inbox.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month â†’  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month â†’  
  Reader Radical $15/month â†’  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  â†’ 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  â†’ 

Popular Stories