Next month will begin with the latest offering in the sfSoundSeries concert programs of contemporary and experimental music, an event in celebration of the centennial of the birth of John Cage. The ensemble will feature a visitor from Holland, Jaap Blonk, a self-taught composer, performer, and poet who has worked since the early 1908s almost exclusively in the realm of improvised vocal performance and Dada inspired concrete poetry. Blonk will be performing his interpretation of Cage’s “Aria” simultaneously with an sfSound premiere of a new acoustic realization of “Fontana Mix.”
Cage composed both of these pieces in 1958, and they both consist of indeterminate scores that require more than the usual degree of interpretation from the performer. In Robert Dunn’s classification system, “Fontana Mix” is listed under Magnetic Tape, meaning that the performer uses the graphic materials of the score to prepare a tape for subsequent playback. Cathy Berberian gave many performances of “Aria” against such a tape of electronic sounds composed using the “Fontana Mix” score; and one of those performances was recorded on the old Time Records vinyl releases called Series 2000. Since the score states that “Fontana Mix” is “for the production of any number of tracks of magnetic tape, or for any number of players, any kind and number of instruments,” there is absolutely nothing invalid about sfSound taking an acoustic approach.
Cage will also be represented at this concert by his very early (1934) “Composition for 3 Voices.” Cage describes this as “a chromatic composition dealing with the problem of keeping repetitions of individual tones of the three superimposed 25-tone ranges as far apart as possible, even though each voice is obliged to express all 25 tones before introducing a repetition of any one of them.” It is identified as an instrumental composition, where the instruments are selected for the differences in their respective overall ranges.
Blonk will also perform a spontaneous improvisation with the members of sfSoundGroup and will begin the concert with his rather extended (45-minute) 2011 composition, “Dr Voxoid’s Next Move.” The program will conclude with Matt Ingalls’ “False Awakening,” which he composed in 2008 for amplified instruments and electronics.
This concert will take place on Sunday, March 4, at 8 PM. The venue will be the Community Music Center at 544 Capp Street, near the corner of 21st Street in the Mission. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and at a special rate of $8 for the underemployed. Further information may be found on the Event Calendar page of the Community Music Center Web site.