No updates the last few days ’cause I’ve been busy preparing for tomorrow night’s gig. Also, I’ve been gradually upgrading all of the main website to the new design, in the hope that it, too, may soon be a World Class Facility like this bucket in Melbourne:
It’s part of Music Orbit’s Vibe Bar series, this Thursday, 28 January*, 7.30pm at the Vibe Bar in The Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London E1 6QL. £7 on the door. The rest of the night includes performances by other string instruments, both real and imaginary, films, and more, probably. If you want to catch my act you better get there early.
* Yeah, I know it’s short notice. I just found out myself.
The design of the pavilion, which housed a presentation of Edgar Varèse’s tape composition Poème Electronique, was attributed to Le Corbusier at the time. The title was in fact Le Corbusier’s idea: “I shall not create a pavilion, but a poème électronique. Everything will happen inside: sound, light, color, rhythm…” He then got Iannis Xenakis, his assistant, to design it for him.
At ANABlog you can see a photograph of the World Fair site, showing the size of the Philips Pavilion, compared to those of the USA and the USSR, along with surprising photographs of the pavilion other than the iconic image on the left. There are also more details about how Varèse tried to exploit the acoustic properties of the pavilion’s interior to the fullest, creating an immersive, spatialised sonic experience (and nixed Le Corbusier’s plans to lecture the audience over the top of his music.)
Plenty more goodies at the Virtual Electronic Poem site, including a Dutch documentary made at the time of the pavilion’s construction, and photographs of the other pavilions at the fair. There’s a lot of retro-futuristic architecture, but there are also the names: Atomium, the USSR, the Tobacco Pavilion, Kodak, Pan Am. Watch the film, and see the world in which the pavilion was built, and the fact that this all happened over a half a century ago really hits home. This temple to modernity was planned by hat-wearing men, built by workmen driving creaky lorries and spraying asbestos like it was whipped cream. It’s a future that never happened, but it’s amazing that it got as far as it did.
I’m still more interested in redeigning the website than in posting any new content at the moment. I’ve finished updating the categories in the sidebar, thus rendering the old subject index obsolete. The index of names is still there, still out of date. New content soon, with the rest of the website looking
The rather wonderful Other Minds Archive has put up a concert by Philip Glass in San Jose from 1978:
This program include [sic] a number of pieces for organ, written in Glass’ trademark minimalist style, as well as a piece for orchestra and electronics.
You may have noticed that the wording of that sentence is a little bit slippery. The information page for this recording is of no real help, listing an “unidentified piece for orchestra and electronics” by Philip Glass, followed by four “unidentified pieces” for organ, also by Glass.
I find it hard to believe that the first piece is by Glass at all – in that style, for those instruments – so both what it is and who wrote it are mysteries to me. The organ pieces are obviously Glass: Music In Contrary Motion, “Bed” and “Knee Play 4” from Einstein on the Beach, Fourth Series, Part 2 (aka Dance No.2), and, and….
What the hell is that second piece? None of the descriptions in the list of compositions on Glass’ website seem to fit. Is this a solo arrangement of a piece I’ve never heard, or some of his theatre music? It’s too cold to go out to the library, a few minutes’ googling was no help at all, and listening to free samples of likely candidates on Amazon drew a blank.
Here are excerpts from the two mystery pieces:
I presume the organ is being played by Glass himself. Having grown up on his glossy studio productions from the 1980s, it’s sort of nice to hear him hitting all those bum notes here.