LOOKING WEST TO THE EAST The Paul Dresher Ensemble in Concert
In the Fall of 1993, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, long known for its innovative works of experimental music theater, premiered a new and on-going endeavor - a touring "electric chamber ensemble" which performs the work of a diverse range of composers with an instrumentation that combines traditional acoustic and contemporary electronic instruments. At the invitation of the U.S. and Japanese governments, the Ensemble premiered its program, Looking West To the East, in October 1993 with two sold out concerts at Casals Hall in Tokyo and then followed with a tour of four Japanese cities. The musical inspiration for Looking West To The East, comes from the core of Dresher's own artistic development and one which he shares with many other composers, particularly those from the West Coast of the United States. Perhaps it has been our great distance from the cultural axis of Europe, or the cultural mix which included many immigrants from Japan and China, or some legacy or remnant of the "Wild West", but beginning in the 1930's, an adventuresome group of composers on the West Coast, including Henry Cowell, John Cage, Harry Partch and Lou Harrison, began to compose works which for the first time in "western" (i.e. European/American) music seriously acknowledged and took inspiration from the art and philosophy of the cultures of Asia and the Pacific Rim. For them, the "Far East" for the European was really in the neighborhood, the "Near West." While almost taken for granted because of today's polyglot musical language, this was a revolutionary act and it gave all subsequent composers a new freedom to choose from the whole world of sound.
LOOKING WEST TO THE EAST reflects the vibrant mix of styles, instrumentation and compositional techniques that have grown from the cross-pollination of traditional and modern cultures on the Pacific Rim and contemporary American composition. Performing with a group of seven musicians and with a simple but elegant stage and lighting design by Melissa Weaver, the Ensemble presents a program of contemporary music written by composers Paul Dresher, John Adams, Carl Stone, Bun Ching Lam, Koji Ueno, Jay Cloidt, John Luther Adams, Anthony Davis, and Robert Erickson.