Citizen Vinyl Spins Session:

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

February 18 + 19th, 5 – 7PM ET

 

Listen in person at the Citizen Vinyl Session Cafe + Bar

or tune in @citizenvinyl on Instagram

In this two-day Citizen Spins Session from the team at BMCM+AC, listen in to recordings from Black Mountain College icons like John Cage, David Tudor, and Lou Harrison as well as the influential figures that inspired them and those who are keeping that legacy alive.

Citizen Vinyl is a communal space housing a record press facility, cafe, bar, recording studio & analog art & record store – located in the historic Citizen Times building in downtown Asheville. This grand civic space serves to celebrate the history of manufacturing & craft – alongside the current state of music, food & beverage within our local community.

Thursday, February 18

  1. John Cage – Concerto For Prepared Piano & Orchestra with Yuji Takahashi
  2. Lou Harrison – Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Javanese Gamelan
  3. Roomful of Teeth – Just Constellations by Michael Harrison
  4. Tyondai Braxton – Hive
  5. Steph Richards – Supersense
  6. John Cage With David Tudor – Variations IV
  7. Battle Trance – Blade of Love
  8. Philip Glass – Einstein on the Beach

Friday, February 19

  1. New York Art Quartet
  2. Asher Gamedze – Dialectic Soul
  3. Johnny Gandelsman – JS Bach: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Violin
  4. Mr. John Cage’s Prepared Piano – John Tilbury
  5. Oliver Coates – John Luther Adams’ Canticles Of The Sky
  6. Max Roach + Abbey Lincoln – We Insist! Freedom Now Suite
  7. Charles Mingus – Nostalgia in Times Square
  8. Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano – The Hated Music

A note on selections from the works of John Cage

John Cage (1912-1992) was a man of many interests: music, mushrooms, Zen Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy, visual art and dance. He pioneered the practice of “preparing” the piano by inserting objects into the strings, thereby altering the sound of the instrument in radical ways. He worked collaboratively for many years with choreographer/dancer Merce Cunningham and with fellow musician David Tudor (both of whom were also at Black Mountain College). John Cage served as a BMC faculty member/resident artist in 1948, 1952, and 1953. While at Black Mountain College in 1952, he staged the first “Happening” in the United States, a multi-layered performative event that changed modern theater completely.

John Cage’s influence in multiple fields is a reason for his enduring legacy and contemporary relevance. As a musician, composer, philosopher and visual artist Cage’s work continues to inspire others. The following LP’s were selected to showcase the wide and deeply influential range of Cage’s compositions. More information on each work is provided by the John Cage Trust.

Citizen Spins Playlist

John Cage – Concerto For Prepared Piano & Orchestra with Yuji Takahashi – Side 1

Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra. Composed between 1950 and 1951. Premiered in New York, January, 1952.

From the John Cage Trust: This is a composition in 3 parts, with the rhythmic structure 3, 2, 4; 4, 2, 3; 5. In parts 1 and 2, the piano and the orchestra never sound together; only in the third part are the two combined. Cage created a 14” x 16” chart, with different sonorities noted in every box, a technique he used in quite a few compositions from this period. By moving across the chart, the musical materials for the Concerto can be determined. In part 1, the piano part is improvisatory, following Cage’s ideas, while the orchestral parts are determined through rules and diagrams derived from the chart. In part 2, Cage brings the piano under the rules of a second (parallel) chart, creating a sense of confluence between soloist and orchestra. In the final movement, both piano and orchestra are governed by the same chart (the version from part 1).

 

Lou Harrison – Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Javanese Gamelan – Side 1

Lou Harrison (1917-2003) was influenced from a young age by East Asian music, sparking a lifelong passion for world music. In the mid 1930s, Harrison would meet John Cage. The two young composers were kindred spirits, establishing the first concert series devoted to new music for percussion. They composed extensively for these concerts, including their still popular collaboration Double Music, and found many of their percussion instruments in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

In 1942, Harrison moved to Los Angeles to study with the famous Arnold Schoenberg at UCLA. Steeped in the atonal avant-garde of Schoenberg’s school, he moved to New York the following year, where he made a name for himself not only as a composer, but also as a critic under the tutelage of composer/writer Virgil Thomson. Harrison also worked at editing the scores of American composer Charles Ives and conducted the first performance of Ives’s Third Symphony (which won Ives the Pulitzer Prize). Harrison also published a study of the music of atonal composer Carl Ruggles, and the influence of Ruggles and Schoenberg comes through in works such as Harrison’s Symphony on G and his opera Rapunzel.

The stress and noise of New York led to a nervous breakdown in 1947. To help his friend recover, Cage recommended him to Black Mountain College in rural North Carolina, where the quiet and idyllic setting proved conducive to studies in Harrison’s new interests, Asian music and tuning. Lou Harrison taught music at Black Mountain College from 1951-1953.

Lou Harrison composed many works for Gamelan and worked alongside Javanese Gamelan musician K. P. H. Notoprojo.

 

Roomful of Teeth – Just Constellations by Michael Harrison – Side A

Michael Harrison’s Just Constellations was described as “glacially beautiful” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross, who wrote about the performance of this recording at The Tank, an unlikely contemporary music performance venue in Rangley, Colorado. Harrison describes it as “an amazing monumental old water tank with a reverb that lasts longer than any that I have ever heard, including the Taj Mahal.” Commissioned by Roomful of Teeth, this composition is tailor written in just intonation to eight individual voices that resonate through space. Roomful of Teeth, a vocal octet dedicated to re-imagining singing in the 21st century, were featured performers at the 2017 ReHAPPENING at Lake Eden, with vocalist and composer Caroline Shaw contributing to the expansive “Black Mountain Songs” which had its Southeast premiere as part of the BMCM+AC Performance Initiative.

 

Tyondai Braxton – Hive1 – Side 1

Tyondai Braxton’s Hive1 is an album adaptation of a multimedia extravaganza he staged at the Guggenheim in 2013. The music is an eight-movement suite of percussion and electronics that combines avant-rock influences like the Boredoms with the sounds of 20th-century modern classical composers. Braxton and Grace Villamil created an original installation in response to the life and work of Jacob Lawrence at BMCM+AC’s inaugural exhibition at 120 College Street, bringing together Villamil’s immersive sculpture and Braxton’s cavernous composition.

 

Steph Richards – SUPERSENSE – Side A

As one of the most exciting artists working in jazz’s avant-garde, Steph Richards is no stranger to challenging listeners’ expectations, helping them hear things they might not have previously imagined with experiments that range from playing underwater to incorporating a carousel into one of her compositions. But the trumpeter, composer and bandleader is pushing in a still more unusual direction on SUPERSENSE (released October 23, 2020 on Northern Spy). Along with a trio of fellow all-star improvisers — Jason Moran, Stomu Takeishi and Kenny Wolleson — Richards tapped acclaimed multimedia artist Sean Raspet to create singular, abstract scents to both inform and accompany the recording, presented as a scratch and sniff card. Richards subverted expectations yet again in a streaming performance and film with Andrew Munsey, homeostasis, for BMCM+AC in October 2020.

 

John Cage With David Tudor – Variations IV – Side 1

From the John Cage Trust: This work was originally used as music for the choreographed piece by Merce Cunningham, “Field Dances,” with stage and costume design in the original version by Robert Rauschenberg (from 1967 the designer was Remy Charlip). Variations IV is the second work in a group of three of which Atlas Eclipticalis is the first (representing ‘nirvana’, according to Hidekazu Yoshida’s interpretations of Japanese Haiku poetry) and 0″00 is the third (representing ‘individual action’). It represents ‘samsara’, the turmoil of everyday life. As in the earlier Variations pieces, the materials here are transparencies (1 sheet with 9 points and 3 small circles) and a short written instruction. All points and circles are cut up for the creation of a program; 7 points and 2 circles are needed, which are all (except for one circle, which is placed anywhere on the map) to be dropped on a map of the performance space, creating places where actions might be performed. Lines are drawn from the placed circle to the points. The second circle is only used if one of the lines intersects it (or is tangent to it). The result is a graphic representation of where sounds may occur. Cage indicates that sounds may be produced inside and outside the performance space. There are no indications of durations, dynamics, etc.

 

Battle Trance – Blade of Love – Side 1

Blade of Love is an elemental composition by Battle Trance lader Travis Laplante that aims to fulfill the tenor saxophone’s expansive potential as an ensemble instrument. Working within the intimate intersection of the human body/breath and the saxophone, Blade of Love is a spiritual and enigmatic work with a deep emotional resonance. Since forming in 2012, the four saxophonists in Battle Trance (Travis Laplante, Patrick Breiner, Matt Nelson, Jeremy Viner) have spent hundreds of hours deepening their musical connection with each other, maturing as an ensemble through relentless touring everywhere from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Montreal to Vancouver, and most places in between. Battle Trance brought this composition to Asheville in 2016 through a performance at BMCM+AC.

 

Philip Glass – Einstein on the Beach – Side A

Einstein on the Beach is the much anticipated and critically acclaimed opera composed by Philip Glass. It’s the first in Glass’s thematically related Portrait Trilogy, along with Satyagraha and Akhnaten. These three operas were described by Glass as portraits of people whose personal vision transformed the thinking of their times through the power of ideas rather than by military force. This release is widely considered as one of the highlights in minimal music history, in the tradition of Black Mountain College’s pioneers. The Philip Glass Ensemble Unplugged will perform at the 2021 {Re}Happening at Lake Eden, an annual celebration of BMC’s legacy on the college’s former campus.

 

New York Art Quartet – Side 1

John Tchicai – saxophone, Roswell Rudd – trombone, Milford Graves – drums and Lewis Worrell – bass.

We picked this record as a tribute to Milford Graves who passed away on February 12, 2021. Rest in Power Professor! Milford was a phenomenal percussionist, acupuncturist, herbalist, martial artist, programmer, and professor. Any program with Graves would be a dream program at the museum. BMCM+AC executive director, Jeff Arnal, studied with Graves in the 1990s. Please visit https://www.milfordgraves.com to learn more about Graves’ life and work.

 

Asher Gamedze – Dialectic Soul – Side 1

The debut LP from Asher Gamedze. “Fundamentally, it is about the reclamation of the historical imperative. It is about the dialect of the soul & the spirit while it moves through history. The soul is dialectic. Motion is imperative. We keep moving.” Gamedze introduces the themes that constitute the album; free drums representing autonomous African motion, the saxophone reflecting deeply & honestly on the violence of colonialism. The teachings of Coltrane, Biko, Makeba, Malcom & others inspire the music’s positive manifestation of resistance. Asher Gamedze was commissioned by BMCM+AC for a 2020 live rooftop performance streamed from historic Cairo.

 

Johnny Gandelsman – JS Bach: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Violin – Side D

Produced by Gandelsman’s label In a Circle Records, Johnny’s own recording of the complete Sonatas and Partitas for violin by JS Bach was released in 2008. Gandelsman is the one of the first to record or perform Bach’s complete cello suites on violin. This is Gandelsman’s second initiative towards adapting Bach’s compositions to violin, following his recordings of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas in 2018. Having worked with incredible masters of various world music traditions, like Bela Fleck, Martin Hayes and Kayhan Kalhor, Gandelsman’s playing of the Suites is equally inspired by folk and fiddling traditions, as it is by historically informed performance. Gandelsman has performed at BMCM+AC on several occasions, solo and as part of the ensemble Brooklyn Rider.

 

John Tilbury – Mr. John Cage’s Prepared Piano – Side 1

Sonatas and Interludes for solo prepared piano was premiered on April 6, 1948 at Black Mountain College. During BMCM+AC’s Material Sound exhibition in 2019 a prepared piano was part of curator Caleb Kelly’s exhibition and pianist and composer Amy Williams performed Sonatas and Interludes. Mr. John Cage’s Prepared Piano includes a recorded version by John Tilbury.

From the John Cage Trust: The Sonatas and Interludes are Cage’s prepared piano masterwork. Much has been written about it, and in just about any article or book about the composer. The list of available CD recordings amounts to 14 at the time of this writing (December 2000). In this composition, Cage expresses his interpretation of the permanent emotions of Indian tradition: the Heroic, the Erotic, the Wondrous, the Comic (the four light moods), Sorrow, Fear, Anger, the Odious (the four dark moods), and their common tendency toward (central) Tranquility. This was Cage’s first composition using Hindu philosophy as a basis, and he composed the Sonatas and Interludes in a period of time during which he was reading extensively the works of the Indian art historian and critic Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. The preparation of the piano is quite elaborate and takes between 2 to 3 hours to complete. A total of 45 notes are prepared, mainly with screws and bolts, but also 15 pieces of rubber, 4 pieces of plastic, 6 nuts, and one eraser. In more recent years there has been a tendency to perform this work on a smaller piano, instead of a concert grand. The rationale for this may be justified, in the sense that Cage probably wrote the work on his own, smaller piano.

 

Oliver Coates – John Luther Adams’ Canticles Of The Sky – Side A

In March 2017, Oliver Coates conducted 32 cellists in the UK premiere of John Luther Adams’ Canticles Of the Sky, displaying its intimacies after deeply communing with the trajectories of Adams’ fictional suns and moons, the guiding characters and carriers of the piece. This recorded interpretation, performed by Coates for multi-layered solo cello, takes Canticles of the Sky to wondrous, dizzying new heights, envisaging Adams’ parallel dimension as an idealised construction. Marrying extra-musical studio techniques and meticulous arrangements to Coates’ fascination with early electronic synthesis (especially the work of Laurie Spiegel), the result offers an ultra-sensory take on classical string instrumentation. BMCM+AC looks forward to presenting an original commission by John Luther Adams in Asheville as part of the Faith in Arts Institute, a partnership with UNC Asheville. 

 

Max Roach + Abbey Lincoln – We Insist! Freedom Now Suite – Side A

We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite is a recording that embodies the power of protest. The most openly political jazz recording of its time, the piece combines musical prowess with political dialogue. Released in 1960, the Freedom Now Suite’s five movements chronicle slavery, emancipation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the African Independence Movement. Max Roach and his collaborators Abbey Lincoln, Booker Little, Coleman Hawkins, and Michael Olatunji had intended to perform the work on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963 but were barred from doing so. This foundational work of the Civil Rights era was restaged at BMCM+AC in 2019 by Fresh Cut Orchestra and Melanie Charles.

 

Charles Mingus Nostalgia in Times Square / The Immortal 1959 Sessions – Side 3

Fourteen of jazz bassist Charles Mingus’ extraordinary Columbia recordings from 1959 are collected on this double album released in 1979. In a wonderful Black Mountain College connection, cellist Seymour Barab, who plays on the second piece called Slop, taught cello at BMC during the summer of 1953. Look for a Mingus program/performance at BMCM+AC in the not-too-distant future. 

 

Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano – The Hated Music – Side B

Saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano are musicians dedicated to the promise and purpose of free improvisation. Paul has released over 75 recordings since In the Midst of Chaos, his debut LP from 1978, while Chris first appeared on wax in 1997. They have played together for the past 20 years, touring all throughout the U.S. and Europe. Meanwhile, they’ve racked up over 20 full-lengths, starting with 2001’s The Hated Music. Flaherty and Corsano seek to champion the cause of total free improvisation–an often misunderstood, underestimated, and sometimes even hated art form. Flaherty/Corsano Duo performed at BMCM+AC as part of Transfigurations III, celebrating 15 years of Harvest Records.