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Kalvos & Damian Ought-One Festival

August 25-26, 2001

Review from the MusikTexte

The Ought-One Festival

By Jennifer Hymer

The Ought-One Festival took place in America's smallest state capital, Montpelier (Vermont), on August 25-6. Bringing together 160 composers and performers for forty concerts of all possible, non-restrictive musical genres, its sub-title "The Woodstock of Non-Pop" was aptly earned.

The event was organized by the hosts of Vermont's award-winning radio show "Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar", composers Dennis Bathory-Kitsz and David Gunn. Wishing to showcase a broad stylistic range of musical forms at the forefront of the 21st century, what started off as a small local event, quickly became an international one, with appearances by performers and composers ranging from the New York downtown music scene, Dartmouth College, the Belgian Logos Ensemble, Ensemble WireWorks from Germany to new music pioneers Clarence Barlow and Larry Austin, as well as composers Ji Hi Kim and John McGuire.

The festival was dedicated to Clarence Barlow, whom Bathory-Kitsz and Gunn attribute as an on-going inspiration to their aesthetic philosophy."Clarence, through his boundless energy and good humor, sowed seeds years ago which are blooming on this Festival weekend" (Bathory-Kitsz). His ensemble piece Le Cixeau du Tom Johnson was premiered by the Ensemble NonSequitur with particularly notable playing by cellist Ha-Yang Kim.

The New York downtown presentations consisted of a cast of glamorous well-dressed performers and composers with influences of theatre, New Age, synthetic sounds and (despite the festival sub-title) pop. Flautist Margaret Lancaster combined elements of cabaret and comedy (as well as tap-dancing) in her solo flute program with pieces by Stockhausen, Appleton and Saariaho. Bass clarinetist and composer Michael Lowenstern produced stunning results with his own works for electronics, sampled sounds and virtuoso playing. In At The Refrain: Day In, through means of electronic clothing Lowenstern was able to trigger an amazing assortment of sampled sounds and music through physical gestures in an amusing theatre piece that described his "typical" day in New York. Composer and Village Voice critic Kyle Gann's Custer and Sitting Bull was a one-person microtonal opera, in which through his own narration-song technique, he delved into the conflicting psyches of two men representing opposing stances in American culture. Other New Yorkers consisted of composer/ singer Eve Beglarian, pianists Nurit Tilles and Eleanor Sandresky, and violist Martha Mooke.

The academic environment of Dartmouth College was also represented by faculty composers Larry Polansky, Jon Appleton and Eric Lyon. In Lyon's Slumber Party Massacre, an almost -piano concerto with percussion, his protest on America's war stance was marked by virtuoso piano improvisations of the composer himself and harsh drum calls of the percussionists.

Another feature of the festival were 15 installations in a "Dream Room" by composers such as Maggi Payne, Anna Rubin, Karlheinz Essl and Larry Austin. In Austin's Williams [re]Mix[ed], for octophonic computer music system, using the formula of John Cage's William's Mix he produced five ensuing variations with categorized elements such as wind, electronic and manual sounds. Taking full advantage of today's digital music technology, Austin created a surprisingly tangible and sensuous version of Cage's pioneering pointalistic tape piece.

Additional performances included music by György Ligeti, Annea Lockwood, Brenda Hutchinson, Chris Brown, Vinko Globokar, Frederic Rzewski and Maruicio Kagel with performers such as Michael Arnowitt, Beth Griffith, Odd Appetite and Joseph Celli as well as a lecture/demonstration by composer/musicologist Manfred Clynes.

A "Zipthree Non-Pop Festival" is planned for 2003.

Ought-One Festival Logo #1

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