UC San Diego's Department of Music

May 26, 2011

  More than 40 years after the premiere of UC San Diego composer Roger Reynolds innovative intermedia work PING, the piece has been restored and updated with new technologies.

The new production of Reynolds' 1968 composition for flute, piano, percussion, harmonium, live electronics, and projected moving and still images will be performed May 27 at 8 pm at UCSD's Conrad Prebys Music Center. The concert is free and open to the public.

Coinciding with the performance, The UCSD Libraries present "Ping Migration," an exhibit through June 10 in the Geisel Library's ground-floor Arts Library .

PING is named for Samuel Beckett's short story of the same title. Beckett's text is projected using a series of slides produced by Reynolds' wife Karen, a musician and typographical designer. The text is not spoken or sung.

Reynolds originally collaborated with several other important artists including Beckett, Akaji Maro (butoh dancer), and Kazuro Kato (cinematography). Kato had worked with famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and was recommended to Reynolds by fellow composer Toru Takemitsu.

At the heart of PING is a short 16mm film scripted, scored and directed by Reynolds, featuring images of Maro. The film was restored by UCSD music alumnus and MFA student Ross Karre with assistance from The UCSD Libraries. Karre also produced a new documentary "Ping Migration," about the process of restoring the original work. Reynolds collaborated with UCSD music Ph.D. student Paul Hembree to add digitally-generated sounds to PING's original score.

As part of the May 27 event, UCSD flutist and music grad student Rachel Beetz' will perform Reynolds' "Transfigured Wind" (1984). The concert is being promoted with Karen Reynolds' original hand-designed poster as updated by Karre.

PING premiered in Tokyo at Takemitsu's "Orchestral Space '68" festival. It was performed at UCSD the same year (when Reynolds was a Regents Lecturer) as part of a national tour, alongside works by then-UCSD music faculty member Pauline Oliveros; and repeated in a Japanese-English version for a crowd of 3,500 at the CROSS TALK INTERMEDIA Festival in Japan in 1969 together with compositions by Robert Ashley, Salvatore Martirano, Gordon Mumma, Takemitsu, and Joji Yuasa.

In the 43 years since PING's debut, technology, performance practice, intermedia collaboration methods, and Reynolds' own aesthetic foundation have changed in fascinating ways, as documented in the library exhibit and Karre's film.

Some changes were so profound (such as the decay of the original 16mm film print) that they had prohibited the piece from performance. Now, the process of migrating the piece to new digital media has given it new life and opened doors to new additions which were planned for the original but never realized.

The UCSD Libraries are working with Reynolds and Karre to digitize PING excerpts and creative materials for the library's Digital Library Collections website. The materials include compositional sketches and diagrams, films, interviews with Reynolds, and photographs from both the 1968 UCSD performance and a recent recording session.

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