Tag Archives: isaac schenkler

REVIEW: Alt + Piano Literature

2 Oct

Review by Veronika Krausas

On Thursday night September 29th our new Catalysis Projects member ARON KALLAY had his Alternative Piano Literature Recital at USC’s Newman Concert Hall.  It was of my favorite concerts of the year!

Aron with his teapot and pianos at Newman Concert Hall

The concert started with Tom Flaherty’s Shepherd’s Pi for toy piano and electronics.  And what a toy piano!  It was the Ferrari of toy pianos – bright red and Kallay wailed on this red zoomer!

Then Kallay moved over to a retuned piano for Bill Alves’ Paths of the Wind followed by a classical, The Perilous Night for prepared piano by John Cage.  And the culinary highlight of the concert was Alvin Lucier’s Nothing if Real (Strawberry Fields) for piano, amplified teapot, tape recorder, and miniature sound system.  Lucier wrote an arrangement of the Beatle’s Strawberry Fields.  First the pianist plays a fragmented version on the piano and it is recorded and played back through a small loudspeaker hidden inside a teapot.  During the playback, the lid of  the pot is raised and lowered, changing the audibility and resonance.  It was wonderful to have a lovely ceramic teapot (whose lid you could sometimes hear as it was replaced on top of the pot.)  Kallay also positioned the pot on the lovely red sports car … I mean toy piano!

The second half included Annie Gosfield’s Lightning Slingers and Dead Ringers – a monster of a work that grooves and at the same time challenges the listener with a complex and compelling aural tapestry.

The concert had a grand finale by the other new Catalysis Project’s artists in residence Isaac Schankler.  The piece was Man on Wiire, an acrobatic work that demands tremendous agility and precision from the pianist.  I forgot to mention that Aron (aka the pianist) has a Nintendo Wii controller strapped to his right forearm.  This fancy schmancy device monitors the performer’s movements and electronically modulates the piano’s sound.  When the performer is most at rest, it’s more of a basic piano sound. When there’s greater movement by the pianist, there are greater disturbances.  Schankler writes “much like the disturbances of a taut wire as the tightrope walker makes his way from end to end.”

It was a superb concert – welcome to Catalysis Projects boys!

He used to raise a storm in a teapot.                                                                                                                               – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Waterland at PIE

6 Jun

BY VERONIKA KRAUSAS Last night PIE (People inside Electronics) had a concert at the Boston Court in Pasadena, in conjunctions with CATALYSIS PROJECTS. This marks our first performance event, and we are pleased to announce that it was sold-out show.

In the introduction, one of the two founding directors, Isaac Schankler, talked about the solitary existence of composers and mentioned that working with electronics sometimes gives composers a false sense of not being alone!

Composing, or many creative processes, are quite solitary but I think we often don’t realize this because our brains are so busy and entrenched in the process that it’s not until afterwards, when we look back, we realize that we were all by ourselves and spending perhaps too much time with just our own brains and thoughts and selves!

Then when the piece is finally performed, that sense of isolation really is front and center, because you realize it’s you and your music that’s going to be standing with your pants down in front of the whole audience!  I’ve had my share of wonderful and not so wonderful experiences but I have to say that last night, the premiere of WATERLAND was definitely in the “happy” category!

Waterland was originally an electronic work created in 1990 on some very forgotten and very long gone equipment in Toronto to accompany a great text by the Canadian writer André Alexis.  Aron Kallay (the other founding member of PIE) asked to perform the work but since it was on a cassette (last century’s technology and a very low quality recording) he offered to help me recreate it using LOGIC.  And poof, we did.  John Payne was amazing reciting André Alexis hallucinatory text.  The video was by fellow Catalysis Projects Core Artist Quintan Ana Wikswo and it was brilliant in its vividness and beauty.

So this solitary venture turned out into a wonderful collaboration with all sorts of amazing people & I think that this was a much less solitary venture than normal!

Make sure to check out PIE’s next concert in the fall.