Pauline Oliveros Tribute NYC 12/22/16
On a clear December night, there was a wonderful tribute staged by The New York Library for the Performing Arts in the Bruno Walter Auditorium for the pioneering composer/educator/musician Pauline Oliveros, who had just recently passed away. Although the website said all the reservations were claimed, I made the trip in from Coram, Long Island with the hope of getting into the tribute and celebration. I wound up being 2nd on line for standby where I met a very nice woman who was a jazz pianist/vocalist named Nancy Kamen. I would wind up sitting next to her for the evening to enjoy the event. The show opened at 7PM with a video/audio sequence of Pauline's voice as she shared some of her wisdom. The audience was asked to participate in a single hand clap with instructions from Pauline, and to be aware of our surroundings before and after the clap. Everyone stood up and executed this clap with precision and the collective vibe had been established. There were touching personal letters projected on the screen from the archives of the library and they were read aloud as well. It featured a sampling which had everything from letters from young children to fellow composers such as David Lang.
The 1st performance of the evening was from the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) which had worked with Pauline in the past. The 6 piece unit which included : 2 percussionists, a trumpet, 2 flutists, and spoken word performed an interesting 20 minute set of composed improvisation. "Earth Ears" was one of the works performed. Next up was Seth Cluett. He told a few stories about working with Ms. Oliveros and performed a solo piece on an amplified apple crate box. Many interesting sounds came out of that wooden box. Pauline created many outstanding groundbreaking compositions in her career and she also taught music at Mills College, The University of California - San Diego, Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. She created a program titled "Deep Listening" which has morphed into The Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer. It is now under the direction of the next guest/performer at the tribute - Tomie Hahn. RPI also has a large collection of papers and artifacts, which Tomie had explained to the audience. She shared a few letters and followed her talk with a short visual performance with bells. The founder of ICE, Claire Chase came back on stage to perform a solo piece with help of an electronic effects person who was off stage. This particular performance featured an oversized flute/tube instrument that was taller than Claire. The electronics helped layer the music so that Claire could solo over something that she just created. She also added a little harmonica to augment the piece. When the unique performance was finished, it was time for the headliner person of honor, and that was Ione - Pauline's spouse. After a warm embrace from Claire, Ione sat down in a chair and read a few more letters before she gave a very touching personalized tribute to her partner. It was a wonderful highlight of the evening. As the evening came to the end, a microphone was passed around the theater and various people who were touched by Pauline in one way or another told little stories about their time with her. Ione's granddaughter told a charming story about how she had to explain to people that she had 3 grandmothers. The night was a very touching tribute to the trendsetting accordionist/composer/artist Pauline Oliveros.
Story written by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on Pauline Oliveros visit the webpage paulineoliveros.us
For more information on Intercontinental Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) visit http://iceorg.org
For information on The New York Library for the Performing Arts visit www.nypl.org
For information on The Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer visit www.deeplistening.rpi.edu/
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