If history considers EAR at all, this issue will no doubt go down as the Loren Rush issue. There are two good reasons for this: Rush is a friend of the editor's as well as a fine composer; and 1973 seems to be shaping up as a kind year to him, at least locally. Not only has the San Francisco Symphony announced a performance of "The Cloud Messenger" in San Francisco early in April, and the inclusion of that work on its European tour; it has also announced the commissioning of a new piece from Rush for its summer public school project, in which the Symphony, under Niklaus Wyss' direction, works on and performs a newly commissioned work for members of the Summer Music Workshops jointly administered with the San Francisco School District. (This is the second such commission: last year's went to Javier Castillo, and resulted in a very interesting piece.)
Rush is working on that score now: scored for orchestra and quadrophonic computer-generated tape, running about twenty minutes long, it will be a part of an extended work Rush calls an opera. (The commission is called "I'll See You in My Dreams": with "Reverie" for trombone, soprano, orchestra, and tape and with Dans le Sable, which has been heard here, it forms a large work, "The Day We Almost Made It on the Beach" a surreal opera of an entirely new kind, which is very exciting to watch being composed. p. 1
Loren Rush: One of the most professional, most methodical, and certainly most interesting of California composers, Loren Rush is also representative of them. He is neglected, even unappreciated locally, while fairly often performed on the East Coast and in Europe. Precise and reflective by nature, he is nevertheless suspicious of the cerebral Perspectives of New Music crowd. His own music is melodic, often tonally-oriented, and obviously related to the mainstream of music, but he admires the music of such composers as Bob Moran and Pauline Oliveros.
Rush was born in Richmond. At Richmond HIgh in the early 50s, he began composing, made arrangements for jazz band, wrote and conducted music for the senior play, all while playing bassoon with the Oakland Symphony and principal double bass with the Richmond Symphony. He also studied percussion. In anticipation of his later interest in the computer, perhaps, he majored in mathematics.
At San Francisco State College form 1953 to 1957, however, the major was changed to music: he continued his performance activities, wrote music for films and radio plays, and began private study of composition with Robert Erickson. In 1957 he formed an improvisation group with Pauline Oliveros and Terry Riley; he organized a jazz quartet which continued performances through 1959, and took up koto for a time.
In 1957 he began three years' graduate study at UC Berkeley, where he studied with Andrew Imbrie, Seymour Shifrin, William Denny and Charles Cushing. "Five Japanese Poems" his earliest composition still in his catalogue, won the Nicola di Lorenzo Prize in 1959; the next year he won it again with a "Serenade for Violin and Viola". His graduate studies led to a MA; at the same times he was working as Associate Music Director at KPFA.
Between 1960 and 1962 he was in Europe, having been appointed George Ladd Prix de Paris Scholar in Music by UC; while there, in 1961, he attended seminars in Darmstadt with Karlheinz Stockhausen and David Tudor. His pattern of winning prizes and scholarships continued with a Woodrow Wilson Foundation grant in 1962.
he began his association with the San Francisco Conservatory in 1962, as an instructor in composition and theory. In association with Dwight Peltzer, he founded "Performers' Choice," an organization of musicians gathered to perform concerts featuring new music. At the same time he studied piano technique with Dwight Peltzer. ("Mandala Music", printed elsewhere in this issue, was premiered at one of the Performers' Choice concerts.)
"Nexus 16" was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation in 1964 for the first Festival of Contemporary American Music at the Berkshire Music Center; it won the Premier Concours de Composition at Royaumont in 1965, and has since been recorded.
From 1966 to 1969 he worked at the Computer music Project at Stanford, while continuing his duties at the Conservatory, where he founded the Conservatory Artists Ensemble for the performance of new music. Incredibly, he was refused leave of absence from the Conservatory in 1969, when he won the Rome Prize; his resignation from that institution followed.
After two years in Rome, Dr. Rush was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship which allows him to continue his researches at the Stanford Computer Center.
Loren Rush's latest completed orchestral composition is 'The Cloud Messenger', finished in 1970. It is scored for large forces: winds in fours, two harps, guitar, harpsichord, celeste, piano and six percussionists. The San Francisco Symphony has just announced the selection of this work as one of the three American works it will take on tour in Europe next month (the others: the Ives Fourth Symphony and Bernstein's "Serenade for violin, percussion and Strings." Bay Area audiences will have an opportunity to hear "The Cloud Messenger" on a special Symphony concert Sunday, April 8 at 3 pm., when it will be played with works by Gabrielli, J.C. Bach and the Tschaikovsky Fourth. (Rush has always been opposed to the segregation of new music on special concerts. ) A part of the score is printed above, to give a feeling of its complexity--note that the string parts are indicated graphically for glissandi. p.4-5
MANDALA MUSIC is an "improvisation schema for three or more performers," in the composer's words. Composed in 1962, it has had fairly wide performances over the years: it was premiered at the first "Performers' Choice", at which time it was broadcast on KPFA, the most recent local performance was in 1969, when Stanford's ALEA II gave it at their November concert.
There should be three groups of performers, arranged according to the ranges of their instruments: group 1 needs high notes (the top sector of the circle), group 2 calls for medium pitches (the lower right), group 3 wants wide ranges (lower left).
Two rings of notations are given: the inner is the "Ensemble ring," the outer a "Solo ring". A course through these rings is determined before the performance.
Whole notes are very long, grace notes very short, and solid notes are free. The wavy line indicates a free cadenza.
(Here is a description of a possible course through the Mandala: the groups begin in Rectangel 1 and move around the inner Ensemble ring clockwise to Rectangle 1. They then proceed through the Group 1 cadenza to the outer solo ring. They proceed clockwise for a third of the circle; then, through Rectangle 2 to the ensemble ring, which takes them to Rectangle 3; then out to the solo ring; to the top of the circle to Rectangle 1; back into ensemble ring to Rectangle 2, out to the solo ring again through the Group 2 cadenza, back into the ensemble ring at Rectangle 3; up to the next improvisation system, through the dashed arrow to the central cadenza, and concluding with Rectangle 1.)
The Mandala is a very formal system. Twelve solo improvisation systems are arranged in the outer ring: some for only one group, some for two, some for all three -- the three possibilities arranged symmetrically.
In the inner ensemble ring, only six improvisations are given: the three boxed Rectangles, which serve as junctions in the map around the system, and the three intermediate systems. Each of these offers material to all three performing groups.
Paths are indicated between systems. Solid paths simply indicate the direction to the next event; wavy ones indicate a cadenza along the way; the dashed ones in the center show a path to be used only once. The solo ring may be used only by thirds, its music relieved by a return to the group ring.
The work is an exercise in discipline for both the composer and the improvising performers. The formal pattern shapes the performance: this is not structureless music. This formal and structural imperative underlies most of Rush's music, but it is at its most obvious here, in "Hexahedron" for solo piano, and in "Nexus 16" for chamber orchestra.
Publication of "Mandala Music" and of these notes should not be taken as an invitation to public performance of this material without the consent of the composer, who can, in any case, provide much clearer copy and instructions. p.10
Typed by Barb. October 1995.