Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds created his newest work, "Sanctuary", with the massive I.M. Pei-designed atrium of the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in mind. The work had its world premiere there last November, but now, for one night only, San Diegans will get the chance to see that critically-acclaimed performance on the big screen - thanks to a concert film in high-definition video and 5.1 surround sound audio, to be shown at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) on the campus of the University of California, San Diego.
On Thursday, Feb. 28, the three-movement, 75-minute "Sanctuary" video will be displayed on the massive 4K Sony projector and beamed onto the 30-by-20-foot screen in the Calit2 Auditorium of Atkinson Hall. The projector is capable of displaying video at four times the resolution of high-definition TV. The video was produced by Calit2 with support from the UCSD Department of Music, the National Gallery of Art, and the Contemporary Music Forum.
The video will be introduced by "Sanctuary" composer Roger Reynolds, a professor of music at UCSD and Composer-in-Residence in the UCSD division of Calit2. Following the screening, Reynolds - the founding director of UCSD's Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1989 - and fellow UCSD music professor Steven Schick will engage the audience in a Q&A session. Schick, a world-renowned percussionist, performed the solo first movement, "Chatter/Clatter", at the world premiere in Washington D.C. The subsequent movements - "Oracle" and "Song" - were performed by the UCSD graduate-student ensemble red fish blue fish (percussionists Justin DeHart, Ross Karre, Fabio Oliveira and Greg Stuart). Behind the scenes, computers programmed by Ian Saxton and Jacob Sudol (using the Max and PD software environments developed at UCSD by CRCA deputy director Miller Puckette) processed portions of the live performance electronically and fed the sounds back into the performance.
According to a preview of the National Gallery of Art premiere in the Washington Post, Stephen Brookes wrote: "Grouped around a bizarre-looking piece of metal called the Oracle, a quartet of percussionists will begin to play, passing fragments of sound back and forth, posing 'questions' to the Oracle and responding to its answers. And slowly, gradually, as the percussive clatter begins to cohere, intricate melodies and complex harmonies will emerge - as if song, or maybe even language itself, were first being born."
Also in the Washington Post, writer Andrew Lindemann Malone praised Reynolds' work, noting that the performance filled the atrium "with waves of gorgeous, purposeful, minutely detailed sound." That sound arises from a variety of "found objects" used by the performers. Pushing the technological envelope, Steven Schick's fingers were wired into a PC via tiny piezoelectric sensors attached to his fingertips; the technology allowed Schick to amplify the sound of even the tiniest of finger movements.
In a subsequent review by director Steven Butler to the Institute of Current World Affairs in Washington, Butler said the premiere "sounded like no percussion performance I had ever heard. It was beautiful to listen to, charming, haunting, sometimes gentle, sometimes ferocious, ranging from wholly unexpected out-of-context sounds to tones that were almost melodic but never completely familiar. It was a work of pure imagination, completely devoid of musical clichés."
The performance in Washington, D.C. was captured in HD by Calit2 staffers Alexander Matthews and Hector Bracho, and edited by Matthews. The video was executive produced by Roger Reynolds and Doug Ramsey, in collaboration with Steve Antosca, Artistic Director of the Contemporary Music Forum, which co-commissioned "Sanctuary" with the red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Randy Hostetler Living Room Fund.
As part of its Composer-in-Residence program, Calit2 has embarked on a program to document in HD Reynolds' new works, while also forging collaborative ties between Reynolds and engineers, computer scientists and music-technology researchers with an eye to developing new techniques that can be integrated into future versions of "Sanctuary".
[This Thursday, Feb. 28, "Sanctuary" will begin at 6PM, preceded at 5:30PM by a brief reception open to the public, on the first floor of Atkinson Hall. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session from 7:30-8PM. For information on parking and how to get there, go to http://atkinsonhall.calit2.net/directions.]