Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community


Mills College Littlefield Concert Hall

5000 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland CA   
The Mills College Music Department and the Center for Contemporary Music

Upcoming Events:
Thursday, February 5 2015 7:30 PM
A Lecture by Composer MORTON SUBOTNICK:
The Tape Recorder, the Transistor and the Credit Card: The Technological Big Bang A Personal History

Thursday, February 5, 2015
7:30 pm
Littlefield Concert Hall

Free and open to the public

Composer Morton Subotnick will discuss his music and personal history of the 1960s-70s music scene in a lecture title "The Tape Recorder, The transistor, The Credit Card, and the Technological Big Bag: A Personal History”. Starting in the late 50s, Subotnick recognized that an imminent technology explosion would offer, for the first time in history, an alternative to the centuries-old three person model of the solitary composer, alone at a desk writing music with pen and paper, the performer reading and performing the music on an instrument, and the audience in an auditorium. He began his life’s work of creating a new music in a technologically impacted world; a world yet to come.

Subotnick’s early works, starting with Silver Apples of the Moon and ending with A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur, created a new ‘chamber music’, music specifically for the turntable and intended to be heard in the privacy of one’s home. Silver Apples of the Moon has become a modern classic and in 2009 it became one of only 400 recordings entered into the National Recording Registry of Works at the Library of Congress.

Morton Subotnick will be at Mills College for a week as the Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence. There will be a concert of his music on Saturday, February 7 at 8:00pm in Littlefield Concert Hall.


Mills College
5000 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA 94613  More...

Saturday, February 7 2015 8:00 PM
Morton Subotnick, one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and multi-media performance and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems, returns to Mills College for a week-long visit as Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence and a concert performance of his music.


Trembling for violin, piano, and ghost electronics
Hrabba Atladottir, violin
Kate Campbell, piano

Liquid Strata for piano and ghost electronics
Kate Campbell, piano

From Silver Apples of the Moon to A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur: V
Morton Subotnick, laptop computer

Advance tickets may be purchased at: (keywords: Mills College)


Trembling for violin, piano, and ghost electronics (1983)

The word 'tremble' was spoken by Joan La Barbara, recorded, synthesized and transformed with the assistance of Richard Karpen at The Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College. The materials of the work come from two invented scales, which are fixed in register . . . one scale for each of the two instruments. The instruments were treated as if only these notes were possible on the instruments.

The work is in several short sections without pause. The opening section of quick 16th notes comes back several times throughout the work . . . each time varied . . . almost like a refrain. Throughout the work, the ghost acts to heighten the shimmering . . . 'trembling' quality of the music.

The word 'tremble' (on tape) occurs at the end. Each of the four statements contains four simultaneous utterances of the word . . . and each utterance, though starting at the same time, unfolds at a different rate . . . resulting in a 'rose petal' effect.

Trembling, for violin, piano, tape and an electronic ghost score was commissioned by the Library of Congress. It was first performed at the Library of Congress on October 29, 1983 with Ben Hudson, violin and Alan Feinberg, piano.

Liquid Strata for piano and ghost electronics (1977)

The premiere of Liquid Strata was at the Ojai Festival in May, 1977. Ojai, California is a quiet town in the mountains above Santa Barbara, close enough to Los Angeles to host an annual international summer music festival. In the early 60s when Luciano Berio was teaching at Mills College he was a featured composer. I went with him as a clarinetist to perform in Differences (1958-59). The magnetic tape contained an electronic part realized in the Milan Radio Electronic Music Studio, started and maintained by Luciano with Bruno Maderna. The electronic part comes in the middle of the work and was a kind of electronic version of the music the instruments were playing. The idea was that the two versions of the same music, one by the electronics and one by the instruments would be heard alternating to highlight their ‘differences’. The entrances would gradually get closer together until the two musics would overlap and eventually merge, resulting in something different than either. This was a period when composers, using electronic sounds on tape, were exploring different ways to integrate the recording medium with live musicians.

Mario Davidovsky in New York at the Columbia-Princeton studio created his Synchronisms in which the electronics acted as another instrument in dialogue with the traditional instruments. Mauricio Kagel created a work, Transition 2 (1958) for piano, percussion and 2 tapes in which he explored the idea of the magnetic tape as a record of the past.

Now, at Ojai, at the end of my quest to create music specific to the phonograph, I was entering the arena of ‘live’ performance with electronics; a real-time transformation of the performance controlled by the electronic energy of the loudness of a recorded performance of my voice, the Ghost Electronics.

The Festival takes place in an outdoor amphitheater. It was not so simple to mount the work in 1977 because balance between the ‘natural’ sound and the manipulated sound was critical. The afternoon of the evening premiere found pianist Ralph Grierson, who had commissioned the work, on the stage with the piano wired through the Ghost Box into the stereo loudspeaker system, and I in the middle of the empty amphitheater yelling instructions while a few pairs of people played tennis in courts to the side and rear of the amphitheater. Ralph played the soft opening of the piece followed by the loudest and fastest music. The space lit up with an amazing array of sound and as he reached the peak of a phrase of ever increasing speed and amplitude. Suddenly an enormous single explosive sound, amplified and manipulated by the Ghost Box, screamed out of the inside of the piano; tiny fragments of something were flying everywhere! Thoughts began to tumble from my brain; was it a broken string? Was it a cracked sounding board? And then, an odor reached my nostrils. It was an orange! Someone had responded to the music by throwing his/her lunch into the piano.

If only Luciano could have been there to hear it. The calls of “Basta! Basta!”* for the very long notes at the Venice Opera House in 1963 were whispers next to this terrifying sound; and, for the second time in my life, the attack of soft fruit!

*This refers to an earlier passage in my forthcoming MIT Press book about my appearance at the Venice Biennale where Luciano had created a long held note to cue a cry from the audience of “Basta!" Following the Biennale I toured with Anna Halprin performing the 3 Legged Stool. We played two performances in Rome; the first performance was boo’d and the audience came back the next night prepared; the 2nd performance was greeted with a barrage of boos and an arsenal of soft vegetables thrown at the stage.

From Silver Apples of the Moon to A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur: V

In the late 1950s Subotnick, became convinced that an imminent technology explosion would offer an alternative to the three-person model of the solitary composer, alone at a desk writing music; the performer, reading and performing the music; and the audience, listening in a public auditorium. This was the dream that prompted Subotnick and Ramon Sender to search for someone to create an electronic music easel; that someone became Don Buchla and resulted in what many believe to be the first full-blown analog synthesizer, the first ‘Buchla Box’. It also became the start of Subotnick’s life’s work of creating a new music. His work, Silver Apples of the Moon (1967), is considered the first large scale electronic work to be created specifically for the record medium. It was commissioned and released by Nonesuch records and became, almost immediately, an iconic work. Silver Apples was recently selected for the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Long considered one of the essential milestones in electronic music, it continues to have great effect on later generations of artists. Believing that the record was solely for the ear, “a new chamber music” as he called it on the 1967 liner notes, he began rethinking a new genre of electronic public performance that would be for the eye as well as the ear. The record demanded perfection that required laborious editing before being released in its permanent form; public performance demanded spontaneity. He began collaborating with his lifetime visual artist friend, Tony Martin, to create a new genre of public performance with electronics that would be spontaneously performed with the musical materials from his work in the studio while Tony would perform spontaneously with visual projections.


Morton Subotnick, composer

Morton Subotnick is one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. The work which brought Subotnick celebrity was Silver Apples of the Moon [1966-7], commissioned by Nonesuch Records, marking the first time an original large-scale composition had been created specifically for the disc medium – a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. It has become a modern classic and in 2009 was entered into the National Recording Registry by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. Only 400 recordings throughout the entire history of recorded music have been chosen.

In the early 60s, Subotnick taught at Mills College and with Ramon Sender, co-founded the San Francisco Tape Music Center. During this period he collaborated with Anna Halprin in two works (the 3 Legged Stool and Parades and Changes) and was music director of the Actors Workshop. It was also during this period that Subotnick worked with Don Buchla on what may have been the first analog synthesizer.

In 1966 Subotnick was instrumental in getting a Rockefeller Grant to join the Tape Center with the Mills Chamber Players (at Mills College with performers Nate Rubin, violin; Bonnie Hampton, cello; Naomi Sparrow, piano and Subotnick, clarinet). The grant required that the Tape Center relocate to a host institution that became Mills College. Subotnick, however, did not stay with the move, but went to New York with the Actor’s Workshop to become the first music director of the Lincoln Center Rep Company in the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center. He became an artist in residence at the newly formed Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. The School of the Arts provided him with a studio and a Buchla Synthesizer (now at the Library of Congress). During this period he helped develop and became artistic director of the Electric Circus and the Electric Ear. This was also the time of the creation of Silver Apples of the Moon, The Wild Bull and Touch.

In 1969 Subotnick was invited to be part of a team of artists to move to Los Angeles to plan a new school. With Mel Powell as Dean, and Subotnick as Associate Dean, and a team of four other pairs of artists, he carved out a new path of music education and created the now famous California Institute of the Arts. Subotnick remained Associate Dean of the music school for four years and then, resigning as Associate Dean, became the head of the composition program where, a few years later, he created a new media program that introduced interactive technology and multi media into the curriculum.

Subotnick is now pioneering works to offer musical creative tools to young children. He is the author of a series of CD-ROMs for children, and a children’s website ( In 2012 Subotnick released his iPad App Pitch Painter for kids, the first in a series of iPad apps, available at the App store.

Among Subotnick’s awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, Rockefeller Grants (3), Meet the Composer (2), American Academy of Arts and Letters Composer Award, Brandies Award, Deutscher Akademisher Austauschdienst Künstlerprogramm (DAAD), Composer in Residence in Berlin, Lifetime Achievement Award (SEAMUS at Dartmouth), ASCAP: John Cage Award, ACO: Lifetime Achievement, Honorary Doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts.

Morton Subotnick tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as a lecturer and composer/performer.

Hrabba Atladottir, violin

Icelandic violinist Hrabba Atladottir studied in Berlin, Germany with professor Axel Gerhardt and professor Tomasz Tomaszewski. After finishing her studies, Hrabba worked as a freelancing violinist in Berlin for five years, regularly playing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Deutsche Oper, and Deutsche Symphonieorchester. Hrabba also participated in a world tour with the Icelandic pop artist Björk, and a Germany tour with violinist Nigel Kennedy. Joshua Kosman, music critic of San Francisco Chronicle, praised her performance of Vivaldi’s “Spring”, and called her violin playing “delicate but fervent”.

In 2004, Hrabba moved to New York, playing on a regular basis with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Orchestra of St. Luke’s and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra among other orchestras. She also played with the Either/Or ensemble in NY in close collaboration with Helmut Lachenmann.

Since August 2008, Hrabba is based in Berkeley, California, where she has been performing as a soloist and with various ensembles such as The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, The Empyrean Ensemble, the ECO ensemble, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and New Century Chamber Orchestra. Since 2009, Hrabba is a lecturer in Violin at UC Berkeley.

Kate Campbell, piano

Kate Campbell performs frequently as a soloist and chamber musician specializing in 20th and 21st century music. She has worked closely with leading composers such as Pulitzer Prize winners Steve Reich, David Lang, and Caroline Shaw, and is at home playing works ranging from thorny modernism, to "sleek and spirited" minimalism, to indie classical. She is dedicated to the music of her own time and place, and premieres many works by emerging composers each year.

Kate is the pianist for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. She is the co-founder and pianist of the interdisciplinary duo KATES, which intertwines new solo piano music with new dance-theater. The duo recently enjoyed a debut season at NYSoundCircuit at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, and the Dance Conversations Festival at the Flea Theater in New York. As the pianist in the contemporary ensemble REDSHIFT, this year she will continue a guest artist residency at California State University East Bay, premiering works by faculty and student composers. Having recently relocated to the Bay Area, current freelance projects include performances with New Keys, Hot Air, and the Switchboard Music Festival. She is also proud to be on the team of organizers for the inaugural Omaha Under the Radar Festival in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She can be heard on New Amsterdam Records.

Jean Macduff Vaux Composer‐in‐Residence

Jean Macduff Vaux (Class of 1933) was a Mills alumna who went on to earn a secondary teaching credential at the University of California at Berkeley. She lived a life of community service. During World War II, for example, she was a civilian volunteer with the 3rd Fighter Command and worked with the Red Cross. She was an active supporter of Mills' Alumnae Association and served as the National Branch Chair, over‐seeing thirty‐four branches in the 1950s. Jean and her husband Henry Vaux were founding members of the Cyrus and Susan Mills Society.

The Vaux family has established The Jean Macduff Vaux Composer‐in‐Residence Fund at Mills in Jean's memory. The endowed fund is used by the Music Department to invite distinguished composers to teach at Mills in residencies which culminate with concerts of their works.

The Mills College Music Department is very grateful for the vision and generosity of the Vaux family.

Video link:  More...

Saturday, February 14 2015 8:00 PM
John Field: Andante inédit in E flat major
Franz Schubert: Sonata for Piano no.13 in A D664 (1819)
Franz List: Soirée de Vienne No.6 in A minor (S427/6)
Franz Schubert: Sonata in B flat Major, D960

Advance tickets may be purchased at: (keywords: Mills College)

"Artists and organizations hoping to revitalize classical music should look to Mr. Hamelin" ~ New York Times

"Hamelin's legend will grow - right now there is no one like him" ~ Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Marc-André Hamelin ranks among the small handful of performers in every generation whose abilities defy the imagination." ~ John Terauds, Toronto Star

"One of the most adventurous and certainly the most courageous pianists of recent times." ~ International Piano Quarterly


Like the legendary pianists of the 19th and early 20th century, such as Sigismund Thalberg, Franz Liszt, Leopold Godowsky, and Ignace Jan Paderewski, it often sounds as if Marc-André Hamelin has more than 10 fingers. His ability to play fiendishly difficult music, make it sound as if it's a stroll in the park, yet imbue it with musical sensitivity makes him worthy of the description "super-virtuoso" byThe New York Times' Harold Schoenberg.

Hamelin studied at the Vincent d'Indy School of Music in Montréal with Yvonne Hubert, a pupil of Cortot, then received bachelor's and master's degrees at Temple University, working under Russell Sherman and Harvey Weeden. In 1985, he launched his career with a first prize victory in the Carnegie Hall International American Music Competition. Since then, he has appeared in recital at a multitude of international venues, often with a thematically linked program of works. His solo turns with orchestras are no less far-reaching, covering major venues in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Hamelin also finds time for a few chamber music performances and recordings, with such colleagues as Jon Kimura Parker, Angela Hewitt, Angela Cheng, Midori, Angèle Dubeau, Alain Marion, Jon Vickers, the Leopold String Trio, and the Takács Quartet.

His early recordings for CBC, Altarus, New World and Music & Arts labels featured music by Bolcom, Wolpe, Ives, Sorabji, and Godowsky. Hamelin then signed an exclusive contract as a Hyperion artist, and the frequencey of releases and breadth of his repertoire helped propel his star higher. Covering concertos and solo works of composers such asAlkan, Busoni, Medtner, Reger, Rzewski, Scriabin, Villa-Lobos, Weissenberg, and Grainger -- just to name a few -- his recordings have been nominated and won several prestigious awards. Compared to those composers, the sonatas of Haydn would seem too tame for Hamelin, but his 2007 volume of these was the year's best-seller for Hyperion. The 2010 release, Études, of his own compositions (bringing Hamelin even closer to the examples of Liszt and Godowsky), yielded the pianist his ninth Grammy nomination and a first prize from the German Record Critic’s Association.

Based in Boston, Hamelin received a lifetime achievement prize in 2003 from the German Record Critic’s Association, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.  More...

Saturday, February 14 2015 8:00 PM
The Mills College Music Department presents:

(Dewing Piano Recital)

“Artists and organizations hoping to revitalize classical music should look to Mr. Hamelin” – New York Times

“Hamelin's legend will grow—right now there is no one like him” – Alex Ross, The New Yorker

“Marc-André Hamelin ranks among the small handful of performers in every generation whose abilities defy the imagination.” – John Terauds Toronto Star

“One of the most adventurous and certainly the most courageous pianists of recent times.” – International Piano Quarterly

Concert Program

John Field: Andante inédit in E flat major
Franz Schubert: Sonata for Piano no.13 in A D664 (1819)
Franz List: Soirée de Vienne No.6 in A minor (S427/6)
Franz Schubert: Sonata in B flat Major, D960

Advance tickets may be purchased at: (keywords: Mills College)
$15 general, $10 seniors and students


Marc-André Hamelin biography:

Marc-André Hamelin begins the 2014/15 season with a round of recitals in Aspen, New York, Verbier, La Roque d'Anthéron, the Duszniki Festival in Poland, Orford, and in the Montreal Symphony's Virée Classique. There, he also performs Mozart's Piano Concerto, No. 27, K. 595, with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony, followed by performances of Beethoven's Emperor Cto. at the Hollywood Bowl with Stéphane Denève and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

He plays a pair of engagements this season with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra; in September, performances of Brahms Piano Cto. No. 1 and at the end of the season he performs Brahms Piano Cto. No. 2. In between, he plays subscription weeks with the Symphony Orchestras of Cleveland, New Jersey, Oregon, Seattle, Utah, Vancouver and Philadelphia. At the last of these, he plays the American premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage's Piano Cto. with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a work they launched together for its world premiere last season in Rotterdam. In the Spring of 2015, Hamelin plays the Haydn D Major Cto. from his award winning recording on a 10 concert North American tour with Les Violons du Roy.

Engagements abroad include a tour in France with the Orchestre National d'Île de France (Mozart k. 453), Brahms 2 in Turin with Gianandrea Noseda, Beethoven 4 with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Liszt 2 with the Royal Philharmonic in London and Charles Dutoit, and recitals in Amsterdam, Berlin, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Lucerne, Moscow and Munich. In America, he plays the Franck Quintet on tour with the Takács Quartet, and solo recitals at the 92nd St. Y in New York, the Lied Center in Nebraska, Mills College in Oakland, and in Princeton, Toronto, Philadelphia, and El Paso.

Last season was a celebration of Marc-André Hamelin hosted by San Francisco Performances, London's Wigmore Hall, Boston's Celebrity Series and Antwerp's deSingel where, in each city, he curated and performed a three part series of solo recitals and chamber music with partners including the Pacifica and Takács Quartets, Emanuel Ax, Martin Fröst, and Anthony Marwood. Hamelin also played recitals at Carnegie's Zankel Hall, the Muziekgebuow in Amsterdam, the Philharmonie in Berlin and the Herkulessaal in Munich; at the Kennedy Center for Washington Performing Arts Society, and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. With orchestra, he appeared with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, the WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne with Andris Nelsons, and with the Montreal Symphony at home and on tour in Europe.

Mr. Hamelin records exclusively for Hyperion Records. His most recent release, Schumann's Waldszenen and Kinderszenen and Janáček's "On the Overgrown Path", was the June 2014 Album of the Month in both Grammophone and the BBC Music Magazine. Other recent recordings include the late piano works of Busoni, Haydn concertos with Les Violons du Roy and Bernard Labadie, three double-disc sets of Haydn sonatas; a solo disc of works by Liszt; and an album of his own compositions, Hamelin: Études, which received a 2010 Grammy nomination (his ninth) and a first prize from the German Record Critics’ Association. The Hamelin études are published by Edition Peters.

His complete Hyperion discography includes concertos and works for solo piano by such composers as Alkan, Godowsky, and Medtner, as well as brilliantly received performances of Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann and Shostakovich. Born in Montreal and a resident of Boston, Marc-André Hamelin is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the German Record Critic’s Association. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Québec, and a member of the Royal Society of Canada.  More...

Monday, February 23 2015 7:30 PM
Monday, February 23, 2015 7:30 pm, Ensemble Room

The improbable meeting of three musicians—Pascal Pariaud (winds), Jean-Charles François (percussion), and Gilles Laval (electric guitar)—is at the origin of the creation of the group PFL TRAJECT in 2006. The terms “traveling" and “trajectory” in their plural dimensions are the constituent elements that best define the groups improvisatory music.  More...

Saturday, March 21 2015 8:00 PM