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Reviewed by:
  • Electroacoustic Music: The Continuing Tradition
  • Benjamin R. Levy
Electroacoustic Music: The Continuing Tradition Electroacoustic Music Festival at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA, 20–22 February 2002

The recent conference on electroacoustic music was the second such event held at the University of Maryland in the last decade. The first, which took place in 1994, was cosponsored with Clark University's European Center at Luxembourg. The present conference was organized by Professor Thomas DeLio and was sponsored both by the University of Maryland Division of Theory and Composition (Mark Wilson, Chair), and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center of the University of Maryland (Susan Farr, Director).

The new Performing Arts Center on the College Park Campus provided an excellent setting for the event, with lecture spaces and a performance venue in the same building. The festival's three concerts were held in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall, an intimate, comfortable space which accommodated electroacoustic music quite well, while mitigating some of the stodgy atmosphere a concert hall sometimes exudes. In fact, one of the participant composers, Michael Hamman, noted that Gildenhorn was nearly ideal for the performance of electroacoustic music, a sentiment echoed by many participants.

Wednesday, 20 February 2002First Concert—Made in Italy: Recent electronic and electroacoustic music from Italy

The festival began Wednesday evening with a concert of recent quadraphonic music from Italy, presented by the composer James Dashow. The first piece, Michelangelo Lupone's Controfiato (Exhale) for electronically processed dancer's sigh, derived from a live performance by Massimo Moricone, and thus reflects some aspects of the work's choreography. It presents three layers of sound which are built up gradually as the piece moves from high-pitched filtered noise to more evident aspirations which are extended and transformed into more continuous layers, steadily building in complexity. Emanuele Casale's Studio n. 2a for processed bass recorder is a short but charming piece that proceeds at a frenetic tempo. Mr. Casale refers to the "dry, almost 'plastic' sound quality" obtained by a mini-disc recorder's compression process, and indeed this piece was marked by an abundance of short, dry, percussive sounds, like the key-clicks of a flute. These formed an almost steady (at times regularly metric) accompaniment to the variety of more pitch-based sounds, also derived from the recorder. Giuseppe Gavazza's Natura Morta con Specchio (Still Life with Mirror) brought the program to its intermission on a more subdued note. It is an almost minimal work, built from a single motive, and it stands out for its subtle use of electronic processing. The source sound of a piano is clearly recognizable throughout the piece. However, the use of decay and sustain envelopes as well as the variety of microphone placements alter the piano sound, and it is through these transformations that the piece begins to take shape.

After the intermission there were two selections, Silvia Lanzalone's Intersezioni and James Dashow's . . . at other times the distances. Ms. Lanzalone's composition is based on Edoardo Sanguineti's novel Capriccio Italiano, although not in a truly programmatic way. There are clear sectional divisions at the beginning, each emanating, initially, from a different channel. Many of the sounds are drawn from the words of the novel, and although these text segments are clearly recognizable as language, the individual words are kept just below the threshold of comprehension. Mr. Dashow's piece, which ended the concert, is a "recomposing of the electronic materials from FAR SOUNDS, BROKEN CRIES," a piece which combines traditional instruments with electronic sounds. In this reworking, only one pre-recorded cello tone is heard, the other sounds being digitally produced. The piece uses the composer's "Dyad System" which he has discussed extensively in this and other journals (a full bibliography is available at www; it is also full of contrasts in timbre, register, spatial motion, and level of rhythmic activity, moving from a number of generally dense moments toward an increasingly sparse final section.

Thursday, 21 February 2002Paper Session—The History and Aesthetics of Electroacoustic Music

The first paper session was devoted to topics in history and aesthetics, and while Milton Babbitt and others...


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