an audio-visual introduction to the world of Olivier
organized by ELSA Productions on behalf of San Francisco Opera
September 26, 2002
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Wattis theater, 6.00 p.m. - 8.30 p.m.
Tickets available at SF
opera box office ($15)
Call: (415) 864-3330
San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art present an
inspired tribute to the French composer Olivier Messiaen, a key figure
in modern classical music whose opera Saint Francois d'Assise
launches the new season of SF Opera.
Introduction to Messiaen will go beyond the borders of contemporary classical
music and highlight the influence he still has on today's artistic life.
From fields as diverse as computer music (Subotnick,
Wessel), jazz (Zorn), and the visual
arts (Brereton), artists will present Messiaen's world
and personality through their own work. The new opera production will
be evoked by the performance of short excerpt from Saint Francois
These cross-disciplinary bridges will be highlighted by practical and
didactic means. Kurt Brereton will evoke Messiaen's insatiable quest for
birdsongs as well as synesthesia and the essential part musical colors
would play in Messiaen's composition, through his paintings and installations.
In informal discussions, computer music pioneer Morton Subotnick and eclectic
composer John Zorn will share their interest in Messiaen's work. Scientist
and improvising composer David Wessel will give a hands-on tutorial on
the Ondes Martenot, a rare instrument that is key to Messiaen's Saint
Live performance will include excerpts of the 3rd scene of Messiaen's
Saint Francois d'Assise, Morton Subotnick's
Gestures..., and John Zorn's Duras,
a composition inspired by Messiaen's Quatuor for the end of
This event will be moderated by Charles
Act 1: 6.00 p.m. - 7.00 p.m.
- Kurt Brereton (visual
Talk on birdsongs and colors in Messiaen's music.
Illustration of Messiaen's influence over Brereton's media art.
- David Wessel (computer
and Mary Chun (Ondes Martenot
Presentation of the Ondes Martenot, and Messiaen's use of this instrument.
Act 2: 7.15 p.m. - 8.30 p.m.
- San Francisco Opera ("Saint
A short excerpt of Messiaen's opera Saint Francois d'Assise
will be staged and performed by SF opera team.
- Morton Subotnick (composer)
In an informal discussion, Morton Subotnick will talk about Messiaen's
influence on his compositions. He will perform excerpts from his piece
Gestures... for computer and spatialized
- John Zorn (composer)
In an informal discussion, John Zorn will talk about Messiaen's influence
on his piece Duras. Performance of Duras,
featuring the Abel-Steinberg-Winant trio:
David Abel violin
John Eichenseer piano
Roy Malan violin
Ches Smith percussions
Julie Steinberg Hammond organ
William Winant percussions
Stephen Drury prompter
- Charles Barber (MA,
DMA Stanford) is a conductor active in concert, opera, and recording.
His teachers include Andor Toth, Marty Paich, and Carlos Kleiber. He
is also active as a writer, and author of Lost in the Stars:
The Forgotten Musical Life of Alexander Siloti, published
to wide acclaim this year by Rowman and Littlefield. Barber contributed
several dozen entries to New Grove Revised (London, 2000), and will
be published by Cambridge University Press later this year in their
new Conducting anthology. He did his principal doctoral work on Messiaen
and his Turangalila-symphonie. He is a regular pre-curtain speaker for
the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
- Kurt Brereton is Adjunct
Professor in Computer Based Art & Design at the University of Technology,
Sydney, and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. An internationally
represented visual artist, photographer and film maker, Kurt Brereton
produced a CD-ROM titled Messiaen at Mt Kiera
in conjunction with an exhibition of paintings and digital animations
screened in Sydney during 2001. See www.spark.com.au
for information on the Messiaen at Mt Kiera project. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Morton Subotnick is
one of the acknowledged pioneers in the field of electronic music and
an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including
interactive computer music systems. His "staged tone poem"
The Double Life of Amphibians, a collaboration
between director Lee Breuer, visual artist Irving Petlin and composer
Subotnick, utilizing live interaction between singers, instrumentalists
and computer, was premiered at the 1984 Olympics Arts Festival in Los
Angeles. Jacob's Room, a monodrama commissioned
by Betty Freeman for the Kronos Quartet and singer Joan LaBarbara, received
its premiere in San Francisco in January 1985 and was expanded to a
full-length opera for production in the Autumn of 1991 by the Minnesota
Opera. Subotnick tours extensively as a lecturer and composer/performer
and heads the Composition program at the California Institute of the
- David Wessel studied
mathematics and experimental psychology at the University of Illinois
and received a doctorate in mathematical psychology from Stanford in
1972. He worked in IRCAM in Paris from 1976 to 1988, where he established
a new department devoted to the development of interactive musical software
for personal computers. In 1988 he began his current position as Professor
of Music at the University of California, Berkeley where he is Director
of CNMAT. He is particularly interested in live-performance computer
music where improvisation plays an essential role. He has collaborated
in performance with a variety of improvising composers including Roscoe
Mitchell, Steve Coleman, Ushio Torikai, Thomas Buckner, Vinko Globokar,
Jin Hi Kim, Shafqat Ali Khan, and Laetitia Sonami, and has performed
throughout the US and Europe.
- Drawing on his experience in a variety of genres including jazz,
rock, hardcore punk, classical, klezmer, film, cartoon, popular and
improvised music, John Zorn
has created an influential body of work that defies academic categories.
Born and raised in New York City, he has been a central figure in the
downtown music scene since 1975, incorporating a wide range of musicians
in various compositional formats, his experimental work with rock and
jazz earning him a large cult following. His early inspirations include
American innovators Ives, Cage, Carter and Partch, the European tradition
of Berg, Stravinsky, Boulez and Kagel, experimental rock and jazz as
well as avant-garde theater, film, art and literature. He tours extensively
with his various ensembles, playing a great variety of music and his
works are performed worldwide by rock bands, improvisers, jazz musicians
and classical ensembles. He is astonishingly prolific with over sixty
CDs of work available, mostly on his own label Tzadik and has received
numerous commissions from, among others, the Kronos Quartet, the New
York Philharmonic, EOS Orchestra, Netherlands Wind Ensemble, Brooklyn
Philharmonic, Bayerischer Staatsoper, WDR Orchestra Koln and American
pianist Stephen Drury.