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Knife [type unknown] found in the display of Gandhiji's 11 worldly remains at Gandhi Smitri
I attended the Merce Cunningham Memorial event at the Park Ave. Armory last night. Lots of friendly faces in the audience and on the "bandstand." Every time I see/hear a MCDC performance, I can't help but smile through most of it. The dance is so playful, exploratory, natural; the sound often has a similar manner, but other times it really exists on another complimentary plane altogether. I took some iPhone pics and a 3-min audio snap with Voice Memo. I was feeling fairly anxious about a composing deadline on my way there, but I'm really glad to have made it uptown for this once in a lifetime "Event."

A view toward the front from the the corner of Stage 3

The musicians were on the catwalk-like area. Fuzzily pictured here are (L to R) Stephan Moore (standing), Miguel Frasconi, and John King (seated).

John King - laptop, Miguel Frasconi - glass & electronics, possibly others too...


A set of metallic fork and spoon found in the display of Gandhiji's 11 worldly remains at Gandhi Smitri
India, travel
CJM's edition of Last Judgment available on Werner-Icking page of Rzewski scores (PDF and sib files)

Live recording of Last Judgment on Archive.org 
DownTown Ensemble's Flexible Orchestra Concert
St. Peter's Church, Chelsea, NYC
April 28, 2006

CJM’s Program Note for the April '06 performance of Fredric Rzewski’s 
Last Judgment: For Trombone Solo or Several Echoing Trombones Not Quite In Unison [1969]
I met Fredric Rzewski several years ago during his monumental performance run of the solo piano work The Road at The Kitchen. We were sitting down for beer(s) afterward with his old friend Steve ben Israel, an early member of Living Theater, and the speaker's voice heard on the original 1971 Opus One recording of Coming Together. At any rate, we were (well, Fredric was) talking about how little New York had changed in 30 plus years. No elevators in the subway, this sort of thing.

Not wanting to go anywhere near a counter-argument with Mr. Rzewski, I switched the subject and mentioned that my group TILT Brass Band had just performed his 1969 process piece Les Mouton de Panurge. This was very intriguing to him, and he said, "well, you know, there's a trombone piece from around the same time. I shall put you in contact with my manager and you should play it." I admire the man's work a great deal, so this concert is my (initial) fulfillment of his suggestion.

Last Judgment does fall well within Rzewski's compositional interests at the time. Like Mouton, and the original concept behind Musica Elettronica Viva, his subtitle of "For Trombone Solo or Several Echoing Trombones Not Quite In Unison" intends an inclusive and non-hierarchical spirit. MEV was (as Fredric put it in an email) "trying, by introducing audience participation into our concerts, to break down the caste differences between 'musicians' and 'amateurs'. So we invited beginners... to play in our concerts and paid them like everybody else. This sometimes produced interesting, though also dreadful, results." He continued, "We used to have a guy in our group, Franco Cataldi, who wanted to play the trombone but couldn't (unlike a gentleman). His ambition was to do the 'Tuba Mirum' solo... so I thought of this piece which is really too difficult even for a very good soloist, but could be done if enough players, both good and mediocre, teamed up together. The idea of the title is that it doesn't matter who gets to Heaven first, because they just have to wait so that we all go in together."

We have no amateurs or mediocre players to speak of in this Orchestra, but the work's frequent meter changes, duration, and range make for a difficult blow to be sure. The decision was made in rehearsal to execute the piece as essentially 10 soloists. Again like Les Mouton, the sound of the group going in and out of unison becomes the aesthetic of the piece itself, creating a novel and quite beautiful sonority.

For the trombonophiles in the audience, the piece does indeed incorporate the opening intervals of Mozart's ubiquitous (at least for orchestral auditioners) Tuba Mirum solo from the Requiem. Using the classic Minimalist additive process, Last Judgment is truly a "fantasy" on both the musical material and apocalyptic meaning behind the Mozart work. It progresses through continually augmented phrases, mutating gradually from one to the next, with contrasted dynamics, and a tremendous finale hovering around the tenor trombone's ringing high B flat's and C's.

I saw Fredric again last Fall and mentioned the Flexible Orchestra's planned performance of Last Judgment. He thought it an excellent idea. Later, after discussion of trombones and trombonist's had continued, I mentioned the parenthetical phrase included above, (like a gentleman). A little Estonian vodka had taken hold of me, and I said "well, Fredric here regards trombonist's as gentlemen!". To which he replied, "Oh, I guess you don't know the old joke then: the man wanted to learn the trombone, but, like a gentleman, he didn't."

1 of Gandhiji's 11 worldly remains as displayed at Gandhi Smitri
From Wikipedia:

Isostasy (Greek isos = "equal", stásis = "standstill") is a term used in geology to refer to the state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth's lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates "float" at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density.
define, geology
A set of basically symmetrical patterns for the rhythmic cycle technique found in my piano quintet work for Ne(x)tworks called Raster:

Along with Arav's first set of tabla, I bought one of these at the harmonium manufacturer Sharma Musicals in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India (45 minutes east of Delhi)

Radel Tallmala digi-100 Electronic Tabla

Like the Evangelists, like Saint Luke, the arist is not a free agent obeying only his own will. His situation is rigidly bound by a chain of prior events. The chain is invisible to him, and it limits his motion. He is not aware of it as a chain, but only as vis a tergo, as the force of events behind him. The conditions imposed by these prior events require of him either that he follow obediently in the path of tradition, or that he rebel against the tradition. In either case, his decision is not a free one: it is dictated by prior events of which he senses only dimly and indirectly the overpowering urgency, and by his own congenital peculiarities of temperament.

Excerpted from The Shape of Time by George Kubler, pg. 50
Suzanne Fiol (1960-2009)
By Christopher McIntyre
Published in NewMusicBox: October 7, 2009
Suzanne Fiol at ISSUE Project Room's original East 6th Street location, December 2004

On October 5, 2009, Suzanne Fiol, the founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn performance venue ISSUE Project Room, died after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 49 years old. She leaves behind her daughter Sarah, her sister Nancy, her parents Lawrence and Arlene Perlstein, and her partner Anthony Coleman. Known to all as a fiercely passionate advocate, Suzanne's passing is an utterly profound loss for the experimental arts community. She possessed an insatiable curiosity and nurturing spirit—qualities that sustained ISSUE through various growing pains and the vicissitudes of presenting avant-garde art, and continue to drive its eventual move to a permanent home in downtown Brooklyn.

The fabric of Suzanne's personality and spirit are woven into every inch of the ISSUE Project Room quilt. Her background outside the field of music as both an esteemed photographer (with works in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago and The Brooklyn Museum, among others) and a commercial gallerist afforded Suzanne a singular, artist-centric perspective. What ISSUE at times lacked in production materials and funding in its early days on East 6th Street was exponentially made up for with old school hospitality, collegial camaraderie, and genuine respect for the various artistic languages and voices being explored. Like Suzanne, ISSUE successfully straddles the precarious line between challenging aesthetic concepts and a personal connection to the art with a relaxed, inviting demeanor that welcomes novices and initiates alike.

I was aware of ISSUE Project Room fairly early on. Looking at the online performance archive from IPR's earliest days clarifies how it arrived on my radar. In typical fashion, Suzanne had garnered the support of many preeminent Downtown artists to kick off the space such as Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, The Jazz Passengers with Deborah Harry, and Anthony Coleman. I was curating at The Kitchen at that time, and before even attending a show at IPR I sensed the forming of a venue reminiscent of that venerable institution's beginnings. After spending time there, I did feel the sort of collective, like-minded energy that I imagine existed in the SoHo scene circa 1972. In any case, Suzanne and her staff had successfully created a professional/personal space for people to get to know each other, and I was delighted to be a part of it.

Suzanne with IPR Production Director Zach Layton, January 2008
Personally, over the past six years, I've created some of my best work as an artist and curator at ISSUE Project Room, and I owe Suzanne a great deal for the opportunity to bring these projects to life. As she did with so many artists, Suzanne supported my ideas unconditionally and afforded me the time and space to manifest them in any way that I saw fit. As ISSUE's first Artists-In-Residence during the Spring of 2006, the ensemble Ne(x)tworks found its group voice while presenting works by composers including myself, Joan La Barbara, Kenji Bunch, Cornelius Dufallo, and Julius Eastman. The work we did over three important events led to many future opportunities and a greater profile in the field. In July of 2006, Suzanne took a true leap of faith in agreeing to present two seven-hour performances by choreographer Yoshiko Chuma's School of Hard Knocks and my trombone septet. The work, Sundown, encompassed IPR's entire Carroll Street compound, with simultaneous performances inside the famous silo space and on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. It was an incredible weekend of interdisciplinary art making, and it couldn't have happened anywhere but ISSUE Project Room.

I believe that Suzanne's steadfast faith in the people and community around her will be her most lasting legacy. From the very start, she wanted ISSUE to be a place for serious artists to experiment, innovate, and push their own boundaries. This attitude is in very short supply in these high-pressure times in which ticket and bar sales seem paramount. Thankfully, Suzanne's wonderful legacy has an opportunity to carry on with the advent of IPR's new space at 110 Livingston. It will be a bittersweet triumph for some when the "Carnegie Hall of the Avant-Garde" opens sometime next year, but it will indeed be Suzanne's triumph. She did all that she could possibly have done to make it a reality, and for that we will all be eternally grateful.
Cornelius Dufallo (left), Suzanne, Yves Dharamraj (right) at IPR's James Tenney celebration (May 2005)

One of my biggest regrets with her passing is that my 14-month old son Arav will live his life not having known Suzanne. To many in our community she truly was "Mama ISSUE." She was someone that I hoped he would get to know very well, a beloved extended family member that he could look up to and admire. Her loss is a real tragedy, and one that I may never be able to reconcile.

I believe that Suzanne Fiol the artist, curator, and mother was guided by a true reverence for the sublime. As with many people who spend their lives searching for aesthetic bliss, she could be charmingly impractical and perhaps even maddeningly irascible. But these were forgivable and forgettable peccadilloes: Suzanne is one of the warmest souls I've ever met and I will miss her deeply for the rest of my life.

We all love and miss you Suzanne. Rest in peace.

Suzanne, CJM, Curtis Hasselbring, Steve Swell, Peter Zummo, Jacob Garchik, Peter Evans, and Richard Marriott