Concert Series and Events

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Jan 22

re: composition -- Music for Supermarket and the Dark

A manifesto: The ideal music is neither seen nor heard. It goes on forever and no one knows what is happening. Save the world.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
8:00 – 10:00 pm / Weitz Cinema

I consider some perspectives on sublime boredom from Walter Benjamin, Tan Lin, Taoism, and my own definitions of courage and awesomeness. Examples include Muzak, supermarkets, television and zombies. I present some recent work in response, reconfiguring the apparatus of Western classical music tradition – how it’s traditionally notated, interpreted, listened, read, imagined – to probe at inner experience. What are we doing when we make music? What does music have to do with everyday life? What does listening to music or thinking about form have to do with feeling feelings? Who wants to listen to music when we can watch movies? What can it say? Or how can it ask? The pieces take everyday objects and social spaces as musical material, often incorporating games or tasks independent of traditional musical training. Examples include music for human windchimes, demolished house, entwined ASL interpreter, and slomo Bruckner headphone facial gymnastics. Music for supermarkets by myself and others to follow on 1/23 at Econofoods-Northfield.

Carolyn Chen has made music for supermarket, demolition district, and the dark. Her work reconfigures the everyday to take apart habits of our ears through sound, text, light, image, and movement. Recent projects include an opera mashup of Euripides’ Hekabe and Red Riding Hood sung to helicopter and digestion sounds, and an assemblage on gravity interweaving stories about falling, interviews with physicists, and footage from falling cameras commissioned for the 2014 MATA Festival of New Music.

The New York Times described Wilder Shores of Love, a chamber orchestra piece commissioned for a 2011 Zankel Hall premiere by S.E.M. and Ostravska Banda, as “evening’s most consistently alluring piece … a quiet but lush meditation.” Chen's work has been presented at festivals and exhibitions in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, China, Australia and the U.S. by noted ensembles of our time (Pamplemousse, Surplus, Talea, Chamber Cartel, Die Ordnung Der Dinge, Dal Niente, Ensemble This Ensemble That, Asamisamasa, NorthArc, Now Hear, Kallisti, Ostravska Banda, S.E.M., Prague Modern, Gliss, thingNY, Red Light, New York Miniaturist Ensemble, red fish blue fish, Silent Book, orkest de ereprijs, and Zwo) and supported by the Fulbright Foundation, Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, MATA, American Composers Forum, ASCAP, Stanford University, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, and the UCLA Hammer Museum. She holds a PhD in Music from the University of California at San Diego.

An interdisciplinary lecture series sponsored by the Carleton College Department of Music and hosted in the Weitz Center for Creativity, re:composition invites us to think synthetically at the intersection of production, technology, and society: six guest artist-scholars will share their idiosyncratic stews of apparatus, context, and creation to exemplify the uncounted ways that critical inquiry and creativity might mutually fuel one another.  

Sponsored by Music. Contact: jefft