Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Ensemble Noamnesia with Art Lange & Guillermo Gregorio




Eighteen months ago Art Lange--Chicago poet, record producer, and music critic for publications ranging from the Wire to Pulse!--first tackled Treatise, Cornelius Cardew's sprawling, unruly, and rarely heard graphic-score composition, hoping to put together the first recording of all of its nearly 200 pages. For those new to the term, "graphic score" does not apply to the sound track of Debbie Does Dallas. It describes music written without conventional notation, using instead idiosyncratic symbols that allow--or force--the musicians to aid in the piece's construction each time they play it. Cardew composed Treatise over a four-year period in the 60s, then rejected it as elitist when he became a Marxist in the 70s; only after he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1981 did advocates of his earlier work revive the piece. What makes the work so daunting, besides its length, is that Cardew never offered a clue to his symbols' meanings. This means that the conductor and musicians have to devise their own system to decode the score before they can even start rehearsing. An album documenting Lange's efforts (he did succeed in recording the whole piece) will come out on Hat[Now]Art in the fall; in anticipation of its release he'll direct Chicago's adventurous Ensemble Noamnesia, led by composer Gene Coleman, and a raft of special guests in a program of graphic scores that includes a choice chunk of Treatise. Lange will also conduct his arrangements of two Anthony Braxton pieces, which Hat[Now]Art released last year as Compositions 10 & 16 (+101); composer Guillermo Gregorio will conduct his own Moholy 1, Moholy 2, and Moholy 3. The Noamnesia ringers are guitarist Jeff Parker, keyboardist Jim Baker, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and trumpeter Todd Margasak (brother of Reader writer Peter); Gregorio will also perform on alto sax and clarinet. The concert will follow an afternoon memorial program honoring Chicago poet and music critic J.B. Figi, who died recently after a series of illnesses. Sunday, 7 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Karen Peters.

Add a comment