Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Sun, Sep 7 2003 8:15 PM

Ernst Karel and Cornelius Cardew's Treatise

Ernst Karel plays trumpet and/or analog modular electronics and is based in Chicago, though currently in temporary residence in the Bay Area. He began playing free music while living in Seattle in the early 1990s, where he recorded with Blowhole, Key Ransone of Small Cruel Party, Aiko Shimada, and Negativland. Since moving to Chicago in 1995 he has refined his trumpet technique and his approach to electronics, and has worked with a wide variety of musicians, including Fred Lonberg-Holm, David Grubbs, Olivia Block, Kevin Drumm, Bobby Conn, Liz Payne, Boris Hauf, Helen Mirra, Ken Vandermark, Jeb Bishop, Otomo Yoshihide, and members of Polwechsel, nmperign, and TV Pow. Current musical projects include EKG with Kyle Bruckmann (EKG’s CD Object 2 was released earlier this year on Locust Music) and the electroacoustic quintet Unclocked. He has also composed sound installations, including Fern Room at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory (later released on CDR by BOXmedia), commissioned by Experimental Sound Studio (2001), and Errors in Measurement at the City of San Antonio International Center in Texas (2002). Sound installations made in collaboration with Helen Mirra have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum in New York, the Palo Alto Arts Center, and Art Basel, Switzerland.

Tonight he plays a quartet set with local greats Gino Robair, John Shiurba, and Matt Ingalls.

For the second set, we bring back by popular demand a performance of Cornelius Cardew's classic graphic work, Treatise. For this performance, the first set's quartet will be augmented with members from the sfSoundGroup

Twenty years after his death, Cornelius Cardew is still a figure to be reckoned with in the British avant-garde. His intense political engagement caused him to question everything about the hierarchical, often authoritarian nature of musical society and about the composer's role in it. (In the 1970's he became a Maoist and repudiated most of his own best work as decadent and elitist!) His Treatise (1963-1967) is a mammoth, intricate 193-page graphical score that undermines the composer's authority by, rather than indicating what and how to play, guiding and focusing performers' creative impulses. The performers are given no instructions on how to interpret the beautiful but often enigmatic score, but rather must arrive at their own conclusions about the notations, much as we normally use works of art, letting the marks of the page speak to us and making our own interpretations and readings through observation and conversation with our peers. On some level this reverses the usual relation of performer to score: normally the player pulls the music from the score, in Treatise the score draws the music from the player.

Cost: $donation
Audio samples in which musicians at this event play:
Videos featuring musicians playing at this event
Gino Robair and John Butcher, 2008