Sounding the Margins: Program Notes

Concert 1

Four Meditations for Orchestra (1996)

Each of the Four Meditations for Orchestra has been performed in versions for voices or smaller instrumental ensembles. There is no conventional notation used. The score consists of recipe-like instructions which are the same for each player. Each performer is responsible for their own part within the guidelines given. Since there is no written part to watch, all the performers' attention can be given to sound and invention.

The shape of each meditation emerges from the nature of the score guidelines and the dynamic interplay of the orchestra members. There is no melody, no harmony and no metrical rhythm. The direction is sound-oriented.

The boundary between composer and performer is greatly diminished in this work. The creative process is shared.

Variations for Sextet (1959-1960)

Variations for Sextet is an example of Oliveros' early "traditional" works. It bears the influence of her mentor and teacher, Robert Erickson, a prominent author of acoustic theory and advocate of intuitive compositional methods. Oliveros stated that although her earliest works were composed using conventional musical notation and tend to sound like the works of Anton Webern, she created them by improvising rather than applying a rigorous intellectual technique. Written for flute/piccolo, Bb clarinet, Bb trumpet, F horn, 'cello, and piano, Variations explores her interest in timbre or sound color through her use of timbral gestures, rapid shifts in tone color, and radical shifts in rhythm.

Excerpt from Io and Her and the Trouble with Him, a Dance Opera in Primeval Time (2001)

This Dance Opera is a retelling of the Greek myth of Io – told from a matriarchal perspective. It features Aerial Dancing, Ancient Spirits, Magic Spells and a sinister monster. It appeals to all who value the concept of freedom from oppression of all kinds. Concept, libretto and stage direction by Ione; Soundscape by Pauline Oliveros; Choreography by Joanna Haigood of the Zaccho Dance Theatre; Set Design by Wayne Campbell. Io and Her will be available on DVD in 2003.

Double Basses at Twenty Paces (1968)

Double Basses at Twenty Paces: a theater piece for two double basses, their seconds, and a referee (conductor) is perhaps Oliveros' best-known theater work. Oliveros, along with such notables as John Cage and Allan Kaprow, combined dramatic element with other traditional media. She stated that her theater pieces are "a study of theatrical elements treated like music . . . [so] that the gestures and objects have the same importance as sound. Oliveros' generally humorous antics, the conspicuous use of musical quotations, and her tendency to tailor the work to the performers interests and abilities are the most conspicuous stylistic elements of her theater pieces.

Double Basses was written for bassists Bertram Turetzky and Allan Goldman. The action parodies a fencing duel and includes extended virtuosic bass passages from Dragonetti Etudes and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

Saxual Orientation (1998)

This saxophone quartet was written for ROVA with commission money from Meet the Composer. It is a structured improvisation with eight ensemble options. One of the options is a star pattern. It's a five-pointed star and at the center is the instruction "Just Listen", which is a central concept of Oliveros' music. Each point of the star has directions to follow and each player plays the star independently. The other seven ensemble options range from a 23-note tone row to a key click rhythmic pattern. The options are performed in a predetermined order. The star pattern can repeat more than once.

Red Shifts (2000)

Red Shifts, the systematic increase in the wavelength of all light received from a celestial object, are observed in the shifting of individual lines in the Spectrum of the object toward the red, or longer-wavelength, end of the visible spectrum. Most observed red shifts are the result of the Doppler Effect; they are also produced by gravitation in accordance with the general theory of Relativity.

Concert 2 | Concert 3 | Potluck Picnic

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