experimental music 1938 to the present

JULY 8 - 10, 2016

gray area grand theater
2665 mission st san francisco

$15 [$10 underemployed] each concert
$30 festival pass

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sfSound presents sfSoundFestival: a three-concert celebration of 20th and 21st century music covering a wide range of graphical notation performed by some of the most passionate interpreters of such music in the Bay Area. Unlike most music in the classical tradition, works with extended notational elements often require PERFORMERS to decide aspects of the music usually left to the composer.

No stranger to making musical choices in real-time, sfSoundGroup, along with special guests, perform modern and historic compositions throughout the festival, covering a wide range of styles, including the logical conclusion of graphic notation: free improvisation. The programmed works also cover a wide range of ensemble sizes from solo to chamber orchestra, with and without electronics.

sfSoundFestival is a rare chance to hear many exciting and historic compositions that are almost never performed live -- certainly not something to be missed!

This year the festival pays tribute to PIERRE BOULEZ, who passed away in January, with two large works for soloists - one for violin with electronics and one for clarinet with chamber orchestra. Both pieces include aleatoric elements where the performers select certain aspects of the music to play from an array of given choices. sfSound’s violinist BENJAMIN KREITH and clarinetist MATT INGALLS are featured soloists.

From the American experimental tradition, we feature two composers from the New York School: rarely heard box-notation works for large ensemble by MORTON FELDMAN and graphical and modular pieces by EARLE BROWN.

Special guest composer-performer LUCIE VÍTKOVÁ visiting from the Czech Republic will present her Piece for Accordion and Tap Shoes, in which physical movement is informed by sound -- and sound by physical movement.

Also included are compositions that continue (and pre-date) the American and European traditions from the 1950s to the present day with influences from Jazz, Electronic Music, Indie-Pop, Modern Art, and Psychoacoustics: pieces by JOHANNA BEYER, KYLE BRUCKMANN, JOHN CAGE, MATT INGALLS, PHILL NIBLOCK, PAULINE OLIVEROS, KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI, STEVE REICH, GREG SAUNIER, SALVATORE SCIARRINO, JAMES TENNEY, IANNIS XENAKIS, and improvisations by SFSOUNDGROUP.

Most people would name the 1960’s as the decade where a radical transformation was heard in all forms of music. For music in the classical tradition, America saw the beginnings of experimental, minimalistic, and improvised music while European avant-garde composers pushed tradition into unimagined territories of sound and complexity.

Although these are simplistic distinctions and we often still think of these two groups as diametric opposites, many aspects of both musics can be traced back to shared sparks of musical experimentation of the 1950’s.

In fact, between 1949 and 1954, two of the most iconic composers from each camp, Pierre Boulez and John Cage, exchanged a series of letters that reflect on their own music and the culture of the time. Their correspondence begins with a common fight against the musical establishment and an interest in new musical exploration. By the contentious end, they had established two distinct schools of contemporary music — so different that their colleagues and audiences rarely crossed paths for half a decade. Experimental music in America was associated with chance, exploration, and spontaneity while the European avant-garde valued a more detailed and controlled form of composition.

sfSound has always refused to take sides in this duel, performing both styles of music equally, often in a single program — perhaps as if Cage and Boulez had remained close friends and colleagues. For over a decade, sfSound has been presenting concerts that cover the wide range of music we think is compelling and enjoyable: from twelve-tone masterpieces to minimalistic classics; from electronic noise to lower-case sound-spectra; from free improvisation and graphic scores to the latest notational complexities.

It is with this love of experimentation that sfSound has established an annual summer festival of music from America and abroad, including many “greatest hits” from our over 15-year history of performing conteporary music. Expect the next years to continue our exploration of music from the recent past and future with new commissions by local and international composers alongside iconic classics.

Produced with kind support from
The Earle Brown Music Foundation
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
San Francisco Grants for the Arts
Recombinant Media Labs
and Individual Contributors

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