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WEDS@7 "SO YOU..." (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) by Alvin Lucier

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 7:00 pm

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall

General Admission: $15.50
UCSD Faculty, Staff, Alumni: $10.50
Student Rush: Free, one-hour before concert, with ID
MUSIC Box Office: 858-534-3448
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The US Premiere of Alvin Lucier's "SO YOU..." (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) for clarinet in b-flat, cello, female voice and 9 amplified wine jars (2017), commissioned by documenta 14 
Jessika Kenney, voice 
Charles Curtis, cello 
Anthony Burr, clarinet 
Tom Erbe, electronics

During the course of the performance, a cellist, clarinetist, and a female singer sustain long tones against descending and ascending electronically generated pure waves. As they do so audible beats are produced determined by the distances between the players’ tones and those of the continually sweeping pure waves. 
The text consists of the first two words of selected stanzas of the poem, Eurydice, by American poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886–1961).

Additional Description:

The University of California San Diego Department of Music’s Wednesdays@7 concert series presents the U.S. première of a major new work by legendary American experimental composer Alvin Lucier. “SO YOU…“ (Hermes, Orpheus, Eurydice) was commissioned by documenta 14 and premiered in Athens, Greece in June of this year. The piece was composed for Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis who have worked closely with Lucier, both together and independently, for more than fifteen years.

“SO YOU…“ is based on a retelling of the Orpheus myth by poet H.D. Her poem, entitled "Eurydice" and composed during World War I, retells the familiar narrative from Eurydice's perspective. "So you…” are the opening words of the poem, initiating a series of bold accusations and recriminations. In this telling, the story is not one of a tragically doomed attempt at rescue, but a series of selfish actions by Orpheus which denied Eurydice her peace.


At the core of Lucier's work is a profound engagement with the material properties of sound and with acoustical physics. Overlooked details of our lived relationship to sounds are framed and magnified in his music with extraordinary care and resourcefulness. "SO YOU…” combines features of two separate categories of Lucier's work: the investigation of resonance in pieces like "Chambers" and "I Am Sitting in a Room", and the investigation of interference patterns between closely tuned frequencies in "Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas" and "In Memoriam Jon Higgins.” The presence of the text and the direct connection to myth, especially myth embedded at the heart of European concert music, adds a further layer of complexity.

The three performers are accompanied by three sinewave sweeps which begin at the upper reaches of the instrumental registers and descend to the low C string of the cello at the mid-point of the piece, before ascending for the second half to their start point. The sinewave sweeps themselves create a strikingly physical presence, as standing waves and interference patterns continuously reconfigure themselves. The effect is further complicated by the fact that the three sweeps are played back through nine speakers mounted inside of large amphorae. The sweeps activate the resonant frequencies of the vases, at times creating feedback-like blooms, at other times inhibiting them. The three musicians perform a long series of interleaved sustained tones that shadow the electronics, creating further interference patterns.

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