Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community


Mills College Littlefield Concert Hall

5000 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland CA   
The Center for Contemporary Music.

Upcoming Events:
Monday, October 27 2014 7:30 PM
Songlines presents The Hub.

Mills College Ensemble Room

A rare opportunity to hear the band that pioneered laptop ensembles over twenty-five years ago. The Hub will perform a set featuring two new pieces as well as recent works such as "Partial Guidance," "Know-Nothing," "Lou Drift," and "Once."

Coast tradition of composer as instrument builder—redefining music from the ground up—The Hub makes music using electronic and digital systems of their own devising. Producing some of the most imaginative and compelling electronic music ever made, The Hub is perhaps the most infamous electronic ensemble since Musica Elettronica Viva. They currently perform around the world after a seven year hiatus, ending in 2004. The Hub members are John Bischoff, Tim Perkis, Chris Brown, Scot Gresham-Lancaster, Mark Trayle and Phil Stone, with guest Matt Ingalls.  More...

Saturday, November 1 2014 8:00 PM

A concert honoring the life and work of Robert Ashley, composer, performer, teacher, and Mills faculty (1969-1981).

Robert Ashley (1930-2014), one of the leading American composers of the post-Cage generation, is particularly known for his work in new forms of opera. In the 1960s, during his tenure as its director, the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor presented most of the decade’s pioneers of the performing arts. With the legendary ONCE Group, he developed his first large-scale operas. Along with Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman, he formed the Sonic Arts Union, a group that turned conceptualism toward electronics. Throughout the 1970s, he directed the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, and produced his first opera for television, the 14-hour Music with Roots in the Aether, based on the work and ideas of seven influential American composers. In the early 1980s the Kitchen commissioned Ashley’s Perfect Lives, the opera for television that is widely considered the precursor of “music-television.” Stage versions of Perfect Lives, as well as his following operas, Atalanta (Acts of God), Improvement (Don Leaves Linda), Foreign Experiences, eL/Aficionado and Now Eleanor’s Idea toured throughout the US and Canada, Europe and Asia during the 1980s and 1990s. A new group of operas was begun in 1999 when Kanagawa Arts Foundation (Japan) commissioned Dust, which was quickly followed by Celestial Excursions and The Old Man Lives in Concrete. He wrote and recorded his performance-novel, Quicksand (released in novel form by Burning Books). And his final opera, Crash, was completed in December 2013 for premiere at the 2014 Whitney Biennial Exhibition.

Ashley’s book Outside of Time: Ideas About Music (2009), was published by MusikTexte (available from Lovely Music) and Kyle Gann’s biography of Ashley (2012) was published by the University of Illinois Press. Burning Books has published several of his librettos and a large part of his recorded work is available from Lovely Music.


Excerpts from SHOOT THE WHALE (1971), a Film by Philip Makanna. Soundtrack composed by ROBERT ASHLEY with “BLUE” GENE TYRANNY and COSTANZO

in memoriam … CRAZY HORSE (symphony) (1963) for twenty or more wind or string or other sustaining instruments
Fred Frith: conductor; Music Improvisation Ensemble II, and guests

She Was A Visitor (1966-1967) for speaker and chorus
Steed Cowart: speaker; Contemporary Performance Ensemble, and guests

Title Withdrawn (1976) excerpt, Music theater on video tape
Robert Ashley: voice, electronics, and Polymoog; Mimi Johnson: voice;
David Peterson and Donald Renzulli: signers; Philip Makanna: Director and Camera; Jerry Pearsall: Video Recordist and Technical Director

String Quartet Describing the Motions of Large Real Bodies (1971-1972) for string quartet with electronics
Katharine Austin (Kathy Morton) and Wendy Reid: violins; Chris Brown: viola;
Maggi Payne: cello; John Bischoff and James Fei: electronics

The Wolfman (1964) for amplified voice, tape and electronics
Laetitia Sonami: voice; James Fei: electronics


Pre-concert Events

Ensemble Room 5:00pm-8:00pm

Perfect Lives (1976-1983), an opera for television in seven episodes
Video by John Sanborn. Robert Ashley: solo voice; Jill Kroesen and David Van Tieghem: chorus; "Blue" Gene Tyranny: keyboards; David Van Tieghem: non-keyboard percussion; Peter Gordon: music producer; Paul Shorr: soundtrack producer;
Dean Winkler: video synthesis and video tape editor; Mary Perillo: associate director/producer; Jacqueline Humbert: costumes; Mary Ashley: design collaborator; Carlota Schoolman: producer for The Kitchen

Room 271 (Classroom 1) 7:15pm-8:00pm

In Sara Mencken Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women (1972-1973) for tape, voice and electronics
by Robert Ashley and Paul DeMarinis; text by John Barton Wolgamot

Foyer 7:00pm-10:00pm

Slideshow: archive photographs of That Morning Thing, 1969 performance photography by Dennis Galloway; Music with Roots in the Aether: 1976 production photography by Patricia Kelley; Perfect Lives: 1981 performance photography and slideshow by Maggi Payne  More...

Monday, November 3 2014 7:30 PM
Shudder: Phillip Greenlief, Kyle Bruckman, Lance Grabmiller

For more than ten years, shudder has cultivated a highly specific, intensely focused ensemble sound, expiring textural sonic landscapes through the compelling instrumentation of reeds and electronics.

Mills College Ensemble Room  More...

Saturday, November 8 2014 8:00 PM
Saturday, November 8, 2014 8:00 pm Littlefield Concert Hall


English clarinetist, composer, and improviser Tim Hodgkinson and Dan les arbres, an improvising quartet of Xavier Charles, Ivar Grydeland, Christian Wallumrød, Ingar Zach, share a program of improvised and composed music.


Tim Hodgkinson:
GUSHe for clarinet and tape
For the Ghosts of Departed Quantities for solo clarinet

Dans les arbres:

Tim Hodgkinson

Born in 1949, Tim Hodgkinson is self-taught as a composer and has always worked outside the established institutions of music. He graduated in social anthropology at Cambridge in 1971, having co-founded the Henry Cow group in 1968. He regards his membership of this group, with the opportunity to work closely and collectively with other instrumentalists in developing new sound worlds, as the foundation of his musical education. The group's major appearances included Bath International Music Festival 1973, Bordeaux Sigma 1975, Lugano Festival 1977, Arts Council Contemporary Music Network, 1977, many commissions for theatre and dance and a lasting collaboration with Mike Westbrook and Frankie Armstrong in the Orckestra.

Exceptionally for a composer, he performs as an improviser and considers the practice of improvisation as an important aesthetic form in contemporary music. From 1979 onwards he has been involved in numerous solo and collective improvisation projects taking place in countries all over the world and documented on many recordings. He also initiated several projects in experimental rock music - amongst them The Work - and played alto saxophone in the group God.

From 1990, his anthropological interests have been rekindled by a series of study trips to Siberia with percussionist Ken Hyder, which led him to work closely with musicians and ritual specialists from other cultures. In 1997 he set up Radical Transcultural Initiatives, with the aim of taking experimental art into remote rural communities. This resulted in a first tour of Altai villages in summer 1998 with Gendos Chamzyryn, from Tuva, and Ken Hyder.

In concert, he plays clarinet, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, lap steel guitar, keyboards, vocals & electronics. In the studio he also works with percussion, viola and sampler.

Dans les arbres

Xavier Charles (FR) – clarinet, harmonica

Ivar Grydeland (N) – guitar & banjo w/ preparations, sruti box

Christian Wallumrød (N) – prepared piano, harmonium

Ingar Zach (N) – bass drum, percussion

This quartet stems from work that Ivar Grydeland and Ingar Zach began in duo toward the end of the twentieth century. Grydeland and Zach established the label SOFA, performed as a duo, and started several ensembles in which the two worked with musicians from the European improvised music scene. The duo passed through several stages, but their music really took shape while Grydeland and Zach were studying for their Master’s degree in Chamber Music at the Norwegian Academy of Music between 2001 and 2003. Those studies focused exclusively on their own compositions and improvisations. Around the time they gave their graduate concerts, Christian Wallumrød’s “Sofienberg Variations” (ECM 1809) was released. Grydeland and Zach felt that Wallumrød’s music was related to their own. Seeing a possibilty for musical cooperation, they invited Wallumrød to participate in rehearsals and concerts. This work led Grydeland and Zach to record with Wallumrød.
Parallell to their duo, Grydeland and Zach were also working with bassist Tonny Kluften in a project-based ensemble with the obscure name, No Spaghetti Edition. The core of that ensemble was originally Zach and Kluften, but Grydeland gradually became an equal member. The ensemble core invited guest musicians from diverse genres to join their CD releases, tours and concerts, with a constant focus on large-ensemble improvising. Wallumrød took part in one of the earlier projects. In 2003, No Spaghetti Edition released their third CD (“Real Time Satellite Data”, SOFA513). On this release and on the following tour and concerts, French clarinettist Xavier Charles was a guest. Grydeland and Zach were impressed by Charles’ music. Feeling he could enhance the work that began with Wallumrød, they invited him to rehearsals.
In early July 2004 they had their first meeting as a quartet. Though it was successful, they weren’t able to meet again until 16 months later. That time, they met for another project with No Spaghetti Edition—recording the CD “Sketches of a Fusion” (SOFA520) with Tonny Kluften and the Canadian improviser, Martin Tétreault. Although the focus on “Sketches of a Fusion” is clearly different from “Dans les Arbres,” working with “Sketches of a Fusion” and playing concerts with this material and this lineup inspired them to continue their work as a quartet.

In July 2006 Charles, Grydeland, Wallumrød and Zach met again. This time to work on a band sound and to compose music for their first release called “Dans les arbres” – which also is the introduction of the quartet by the same name: Dans les arbres. Since then the band has been touring in Europe, North America and Japan as a quartet. Dans les arbres have also performed with guest musicians such as Yumiko Tanaka, Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O´Rourke and the young Norwegian duo Vilde & Inga.  More...

Monday, November 17 2014 7:30 PM
Ken Ueno

UC Berkeley professor, Ken Ueno with the Living Earth Show: quarter-tone electric guitar and quarter-tone vibraphone and vocal multiphonics.

Mills College Ensemble Room  More...