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New Music Marathon


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A usually misquoted and almost always misattributed line from Friedrich Schelling's The Philosophy of Art--the one comparing architecture to "frozen music"--will receive an unusually literal interpretation in this six-hour event at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Designed to complement the MCA's current retrospective of 20th-century architecture, the program features many of the city's leading new-music lights and several innovative compositions, most of them presented by composer and bass clarinetist Gene Coleman and members of his Ensemble Noamnesia. Several site-specific sound installations--including Lou Mallozzi reading Dante's Inferno into one end of a 52-foot-long tin-can telephone and a "duet" between trumpeter and electronicist Ernst Long and Brennan McGaffey's audiovisual sculpture--are likely to draw attention, but I think the program's strength lies in the variety of compositional techniques on display. Some of the pieces (by Cage, Varese, and Xenakis) were inspired by works of architecture, and others use architectural techniques more directly. Werner Dafeldecker's "Hyogo" bases its form on the structural proportions of a Japanese temple, Guillermo Gregorio's graphic scores were influenced by the architectural drawings of Moholy-Nagy, and poet and music critic Art Lange has "transcribed" drawings by German architect Daniel Libeskind (who has work in the MCA exhibit), turning them into music for seven instrumentalists. Duets and trios comprising reedist Ken Vandermark, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Tatsu Aoki, oboist Robbie Hunsinger, and over a dozen others will dot the museumscape, and a rotating cast will perform Coleman's "For Carlo," a nonlinear piece to be played in sections at various times throughout the afternoon. The New Music Marathon is the second installment in a series called "Active Music," directed by Coleman and the MCA--but despite those titles, to me this sounds more like a high-culture carnival midway. Sunday, 11 AM to 5 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; 312-397-4010.


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