program noats

Alvin Curran, Caspar, Edith Schloss, Richard Teitelbaum, Barbara Mayfield, Nicole and Frederic Rzewski in Piazza Navona, 1967. Photo Clyde Steiner

As Frederic walked around Wroclaw looking for a copy of the Financial Times he thought, "My God, Beethoven is just another Polish composer like me."  The price of Brent Crude fell 2 points that day.  At the same time Richard  was  translating his own CV from  Tibetan  into Yiddish in a reconverted Midi barn  on the other side of the tenure track in upstate New York; he was also constructing a Golem out of  old Moog Modules.  Steve Lacy  wore a green cordurouy suit as he sat in Cafe de Temple and continued to compose  the history  of  melody  on a napkin.  He had Harpo Marx do the footnotes and Ahkmatova the book.   Hearing Steve's melodic portraits, Alvin  pushed  Milhaud's chair into into the aerobic  counterpoint room,   recorded it,  blew on a conch shell and  and began signing invitations to the 21st century.  Garrett List  planted a Dada Tree in the Ardennes Forest and then went on to invent a machine which could  remodel the quarter note  to conform to Belgian standards.  And George Lewis quietly hummed the  Bill of Rights in retrograde inversion, waiting for an Internet Log Jam  to clear; tiring of that, he took the A Train out of his trombone  case, connected his hard drive to the Chicago EL and opened a beer.  Via della Luce, Martin Buber, the Baader Meinhof Gang, Steve Ben-Israel, Pistoletto, The Living Theater, Yoko Ono,  Pierre Clementi, Cornelius Cardew, Suzie Creamcheese, Giuseppe Chiari, The Pink Floyd,  Enrico Rava, Brian Eno, Michael Nyman,  Paik and Moorman,   Elsa Morante,  Jon Phetteplace,  Braxton,  Amacher,   Carol Plantamura, Mayfield, Schloss,  Abbeloos, Bryant, Vandor,  Frans Brüggen, Andor  at one time or another all were blessed by the convulsive  howling sheets of sound that MEV let out... They and many others were all part of the mix Internationale that has since become the MEV score,  its manifesto, and Book.  Wherever Utopia burped MEV was there, in the front lines ready to hand out soup,  performance instructions,  sticks.  The biblical word "circuitry" handed down by Tudor and Cage became synonymous with the cosmos and ethical egalitarianism.  And time became the place where everyone met to step outside of it.  We diligently ate Brown Rice, because it made us think of Kosher Hot dogs and  a   classic  like Claire de Lune was executed  with Curran's mandolin Obbligato by Rzewski  wearing a Gorilla mask, because in Stockholm in l969 no one had done that yet.  Police and Fire officials were regular patrons of our events;  often  there to stop them when the audience got too "collective," or when students  misread our  cryptic chord symbols as  instructions  in building bonfires.   From our instrumentarium we hauled out Baroque fog horns and Somali camel bells,  Transtiberium pane-glass pianos and with these we decided the music would start from the beginning, near Ur.  This music was  born stark naked, like a child at birth; squawked  and was to remain naked all of its life, even as  MEV travelled  clothed in Jumbos to deliver  it  to whoever ordered it, like home Pizza.  The intense rehearsals of the formative period were all we needed, for once we learned the language that we  alone had invented we could all speak it , and so could anyone else— it was, after all, based only on  mutual trust - and this, like the origins of all the  great languages of the world could not be explained, but could be transmitted  simply in a few basic signs  that any hurdy-gurdy player  with a stop watch could understand.  Like most music, it somehow  started, went up and down a few times and  after a while  stopped.  The only difference between this and say Pergolesi, was that in the process everyone within hearing space disappeared (like Spacecraft )and only on repeated listenings to the tapes was one convinced that  that music had, indeed, been made in a room.  Now this once youthfull music is made by four middle men with curriculae,   anarchist credit cards and vegetable gardens  -  so the chord changes are more complex than before and flated fifths  can now mutate into  funghi porcini faster than espresso.   And, like that of our students  parts of what  we do is made in a Trailways Workstation, but unlike that of our students  we still cook it  on a can of Sterno out back.

Alvin Curran, for Musica Elettronica Viva concert at WDR, March 1995



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