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Alvin Curran — Shofar Rags (2013)

 Alvin Curran — Shofar Rags (2013)

Alvin Curran — Shofar Rags
Ξ  Alvin Curran is a contemporary American composer whose work incorporates multimedia, visual arts, improvisation, and written music.
Ξ  American composer Alvin Curran co-founded the group Musica Elettronica Viva and has been active with solo performances, international radio concerts and large-scale sound installations since the 1960s.
Born: December 13, 1938 in Providence, RI
Location: Rome, Italy ~  California's Mills College
Genre: Avant-Garde, Classical, New Age
Styles: Modern Composition, Avant-Garde Music, Experimental Electronic Keyboard
Album release: June 18, 2013
Recorded by Luca Spagnoletti at Studio Luca Spagnoletti, Rome, Italy.
Record Label: Tzadik
Duration:     60:54
1. Shofar Puro Alap     6:29
2. Shofar X 17     13:10
3. Shofar T Tam     10:50
4. Alef Bet Gimel Shofar     4:42
5. Shin Far Shofar 1     11:22
6. Shofar Der Zeit     4:00
7. Shin Far Shofar 2     10:21
•  Alvin Curran — shofar, sampler, electronics
•  William Winant — large tam tam
•  Arnold Dreyblatt — accordion
•  Michael Riessler — soprano clarinet
•  Mariateresa Barbieri  Photography
•  Amedeo Castellani  Photography
•  Heung-Heung Chin  Design
•  Alvin Curran  Composer, Cover Photo, Electronics, Liner Notes, Producer, Sampled Keyboards, Sampled Vocals, Shofar
•  Arnold Dreyblatt  Accordion
•  Scott Hull  Mastering
•  Susan Levenstein  Photography
•  Maggie Payne  Recording
•  Michael Riessler  Clarinet (Soprano)
•  Luca Spagnoletti  Recording
•  Kazunori Sugiyama  Associate Producer
•  William Winant  Tamtam
•  John Zorn  Executive Producer © Alvin Curran plays shofar at CJM window 2009
Ξ   Active since themid-’60s, Alvin Curran is one of America’s most courageous and outrageous musical mavericks. A true forefather to the Downtown scene, his music embraces the dialectics of composition/improvisation, tonality/atonality, minimalism, electronic/acoustic and more. Alvin’s use of the Shofar in experimental music making goes as far back as 1988, and this long awaited release features several compositions for Shofar and electronics, ranging from meditative Ambient environments to flamboyant, fast moving collage.
Ξ   When the Contemporary Jewish Museum opened in San Francisco, John Zorn worked with its Director, Connie Wolf, on the Aleph-Bet project. As part of that project, Zorn invited Curran to create a sound-installation for the Museum’s major space.
Ξ   The result, “Shin Far Shofar,” was an environment richly provided with both electronic sounds and a wide diversity sampled tracks, some of which involved Curran playing the shofar while others drew upon such sources as recordings of Ashkenazi cantors and ship’s horns (creating strong connotations of Ellis Island). In addition, some of the electronic sources were triggered by responses to Curran’s shofar sounds. Ξ   After the installation closed, Curran returned to the space to give a concert with percussionist William Winant.
Ξ   As might be assumed, Curran’s performance on this instrument is far more diverse than the limited repertoire required for any Tokea (the Hebrew word for a shofar player translates as “blaster”). It is therefore not surprising that the connotations of the material on the seven tracks of this recording (two of which come from the “Shin Far Shofar” indtallation and one of which was recorded with Winant at Mills College) range all the way from the extreme intensity of Hasidic faith to the blatantly goyish. Beyond any religious connotations, however, resides the underlying truth that this instrument (one might almost want to call it a pre-instrument) puts out one hell of an intimidating sound. The electronic (and occasionally instrumental) contexts that Curran creates for his performances (sometimes working with colleagues) never fail to do justice to that intimidation, whether it extends from the most sincere act or faith or simply to shock the listener who thinks (s)he has heard it all.
Artist Biography by Uncle Dave Lewis
Ξ   Alvin Curran is a contemporary American composer whose work incorporates multimedia, visual arts, improvisation, and written music. He studied with Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter in the early '60s, but by 1965 found himself in Rome as co-founder of the pioneering touring electronic performance group Musica Elettronica Viva, with whom he worked until 1971. During this time, Curran also made significant contact with English composer Cornelius Cardew, whom he assisted, and Italian Giacinto Scelsi, whom Curran regarded as a mentor. After MEV parted company, Curran decided to remain in Rome, where he taught at the Accademia Nazionale d'Arte Drammatica until 1980; the bulk of his work with synthesizer and tapes dates from this time. In 1980, Curran was named the Darius Milhaud Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, CA, a position he held until his retirement in 2006; Curran also maintained a residence in Rome during these years. Around 1980, Curran's focus began to shift again toward conventional instruments, and with the availability of MIDI technology beginning in the mid-'80s, Curran brought the electronics and installation elements back into his work. Since then he has been involved an extremely eclectic mix of projects, ranging from extended works for piano solo to works like Pozzulana (2005), scored for 10 laptops, 2 drum kits, electric bass, 4 voices, and 12 live instruments.
Ξ   Curran's output is so varied that it is impossible to come away from his work with a unified impression. However, there is no disputing the care and skill he invests in each creation, and his works have been widely adopted by performers such as Kronos Quartet, The Bang On a Can All-Stars, Yvar Mishakoff, The EAR Unit, Ursula Oppens, and many others. Among the works that have gained him the most acclaim are the series of piano pieces entitled Inner Cities (begun 1991 and ongoing; by 2008 running to 13 in the cycle) and Crystal Psalms (1988) scored for six choruses and six sextets broadcasting from six different European nations, written in observance of the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Curran cites as his personal favorite the piece Schtyx (1992), written for the Abel-Steinberg-Winant Trio.
Website: http://www.alvincurran.com/
MySpace: https://myspace.com/alvincurran
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alvin-Curran/52349952829
Selected discography:
•  Songs and Views of the Magnetic Garden (1974 Ananda, reissue 1993) Catalyst Records
•  Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri (1975) Ananda No. 4
•  The Works (1978) Fore
•  Canti Illuminati (1980 Fore, reissue 2004) Fringes Recordings
•  Natural History (1982) Editions Gianozzo
•  Maritime Rites, ten environmental concerts produced for National Public Radio (1984, reissue 2004) New World Records
•  Field It and Lenz (1985) Radio Art Foundation
•  For Cornelius and Era Ora (1986), Ursula Oppens, Frederic Rzewski pianos, New Albion
•  Electric Rags II (1989) New Albion Records, with Rova Saxophone Quartet
•  Hyper Beatles (1990) Aki Takahashi piano, Toshiba-EMI/Angel
•  Il Clarinetto (1992) David Keberle clarinet/Curran electronics, BMG Ariola
•  Schtyx (1994) Abel Steinberg Winant Trio, with VSTO (string quartet) David Abel, Sharon Wood, Meg Tichener, Dina Weinschelbaum, CRI.
•  Animal Behaviour (1995) Tzadik
•  Yvar Mikhashoff plays Alvin Curran: Piano Works (1995) Mode Records
•  Theme Park (1998) Tzadik
•  Crystal Psalms (1999) New World Records
•  riverrun: voicings/soundscapes (1999) Klaus Schöning, editor, WERGO
•  The Things In Between (1999) Eve Egoyan, piano, Artifact
•  Time Tracks (1999) Jeanne Golan, piano, Albany Records
•  Apollo and Marsyas, Het Apollohuis 1980-1997: An anthology of new music concerts (2002) ACD
•  Inner Cities (2003), Bruce Brubaker, piano, Arabesque Recordings
•  Lost Marbles (2004) Tzadik
•  Our Ur (2004), with Domenico Sciajno, Rossbin Production
•  ABO: Un Ritratto Sonoro (2004) Companion to the book, Lezione di boxe by Achille Bonita Oliva, Luca Sossella
•  Vindobona Blues (2005) Kunstradio OR
•  Toto Angelica (2005) I Dischi di Angelica
•  Hesitation-Tango (2005) Aki Takahashi, piano, Camerata
•  Inner Cities (2005) Daan Vandewalle, piano, Long Distance Records
•  The Art of the Fluke (2007), with Cenk Ergün, TEAR Records
•  Hope Street Tunnel Blues (2007) Bruce Brubaker, piano, Arabesque Recordings
•  For Cornelius, Kees Wieringa, Do Records
•  The Stroke That Kills (2008) Seth Josel, guitar, New World Records
•  The Magic Carpet (2008), reissue of 1971 LP on SOURCE, music of the avant garde: Source Records 1-6, 1968-1971, Pogus Productions
•  Endangered Species (2010), ATOPOS Records
•  Under the Fig Tree/The Magic Carpet (2010), Die Schachtel
•  Alvin Curran: Solo Works - the '70s (2010), 3-CD set, New World Records
•  MMM Quartet — Live At The Metz' Arsenal (2012), with Joelle Leandre, Fred Frith, Urs Leimgruber, Leo Records
Discography with Musica Elettronica Viva:
•  Friday (2008) reissue of 1969 Polydor LP by Alga Marghen
•  Spacecraft/Unified Patchwork Theory (2001) Alga Marghen
•  apogee — MEV/AMM (2005) Matchless Recordings
•  MEV40 (2008) 4-CD set with 40 years of music, New World Records
•  AMM/MEV: Live Electronic Music Improvised (2009) reissue of 1968 Mainstream LP by WERGO

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