Instruere by David Doty
This August and September, despite rumored funding cuts, the 17th Annual Cabrillo Festival will take place in and around the pleasant coastal community of Aptos, near Santa Cruz. The Festival's twelve concerts, occurring during the last weekend of August and the first weekend of September, include a number of world and west coast premieres. Twentieth century music makes up the bulk of Festival programs, this year's resident composers being Virgil Thompson, Eric Stokes, and Garrett List. Although the choice of Thompson as principal composer-in-residence suggests continuing conservatism on the part of Festival planners, the works of more innovative composers are not absent from Festival concerts.
Among the Festival's traditions is the evening of new music, coordinated by Charles Amirkhanian, the well-known sound poet, radio personality, scholar, and reviver of deceased composers. Over the years these programs have featured a wide variety of recent works involving conventional instruments, taped and live electronics, and mixed media. Composers represented have ranged from the internationally known to promising locals, and world premieres are common. (An outstanding example was the 1976 concert, which featured works by Dane Rudhyar, James Tenney, Megan Roberts, Daniel Lentz, Peter Plonsky, and Amirkhanian himself.)
This year's evening of new music will feature works of Laurie Spiegel and Laurie Anderson, both from New York; Eric Stokes from Minnesota; and David Cope, currently of Santa Cruz.
The final event on the program is David Cope's Vectors 0n Texts by Charles Ives (1973-77) scored for voice, percussion, piano, electronics, small brass band, and audience. It is the programs only world premiere and also the only piece by a "local" composer. The texts, which range from reflective to polemic, are selected from a variety of Ives's writings, most from a book called Memos, edited by John Kirkpatrick (Norton, New York, 1972). The composer will be featured in the role of tenor soloist.
A Festival event which may be on its way to becoming a tradition is the concert of new American music for gamelan, coordinated by Lou Harrison. This year's "battle of the gamelans" will feature five groups: The Berkeley Gamelan, gamelan Pasir Batang, Gamelan Si Betty, Other Music, and the San Francisco Percussion Ensemble. While the complete program, which involves irregular alternation among the five ensembles, is far too long and convoluted to describe here, an account of the ensembles and their instruments seems in order.
The San Francisco Percussion Ensemble, founded by Richard Kvistad and David Rosenthal, will play a single piece, Kvistad's Gending Bali, which will open the program. This composition is scored for an instrumental combination known in Bali as Gamelan Batel, consisting of gender wayang (the quartet of gender which accompanies shadow plays) augmented by additional rhythmic and colotomic percussion.
The Gamelan Pasir Batang, which will be heard in a series of compositions by Christopher Gaynor, is a small iron-keyed gamelan from Sunda (West Java) of a type called Gamelan Renteng.
The Gamelan Si Betty, named for its benefactor, Betty Freeman, is the most recent creation of Lou Harrison and William Colvig. Debuted in a recent concert at San Jose State University, it is modeled on the court gamelans of central Java, and is the largest American-built gamelan to date. When completed (are American gamelans ever really completed?) it will accommodate over twenty players. Its instruments, like those of its Javanese counterparts, are divided into two sets, one tuned in 5-tone slendro, the other in 7-tone pelog, both scale systems here realized in just intonation. A more extensive description of this gamelan and its tuning system will occupy a future edition of this column.
The instruments of the Berkeley Gamelan, built primarily by its founder-director Daniel Schmidt, also derive primarily from central Javanese models. among their works on the program will be a collaborative work by Schmidt, Tim Perkis and Steve DeWitt, a piece for gamelan and chorus by Joe Fanscher, and a new work for gamelan and dancers, by Nancy karp.
Other Music, founded in 1975 by Henry S. Rosenthal, Dale S. Soules, and this writer, is the least Indonesioid of the ensembles involved. Built primarily during 1977 and 1978, the instruments of Other Music's gamelan are tuned to a fourteen-tone system of just intonation and are designed for standing players. Other music's offerings on the program include compositions by Henry S. Rosenthal, Dale S. Soules, Jacqueline Summerfield, and this writer.
Other events of interest to EAR readers include a free composers round table moderated by Charles Amirkhanian and featuring Virgil Thompson, Lou Harrison, Eric Stokes, Laurie Spiegel, and Laurie Anderson; a concert of the music of Percy Grainger, also coordinated by Charles Amirkhanian; a free outdoor concert, including percussion works by local composers Richard Kvistad and Larry London; and the world premiere of a work by Garrett List, featuring his "A-1 Art Band" and the Festival orchestra. p.4