On April 5, 6 and 7, 2012, a quartet of internationally renowned composer-improvisers – Mark Dresser, Nicole Mitchell, Myra Melford and Michael Dessen – will perform with a different remote partner each night in an unprecedented “virtual tour” of original music conceived for the telematic stage. With the core group performing each night at the University of California San Diego’s Conrad Prebys Music Center Theater, the collaborative partners include a diverse lineup of outstanding improvisers and composers: Jason Robinson, Marty Ehrlich and Bob Weiner at Amherst College on April 5; Matthias Ziegler and Gerry Hemingway at the Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology (ICST) in Zurich on April 6; and Sarah Weaver, Jane Ira Bloom, Ray Anderson, Min Xiao Fen and Matt Wilson at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture, and Technology (cDACT) at Stony Brook University in New York on April 7. The tour will feature premieres of compositions by Mark Dresser, Michael Dessen, Nicole Mitchell, Jason Robinson, Marty Ehrlich, Gerry Hemingway, and Sarah Weaver.
For several years, we have been exploring the artistic potential of networking technologies by producing concerts of original music and visual content that feature artists in multiple geographic locations performing together simultaneously. We are among a handful of artists charting the contours of this new field of “telematic” performance, which we believe will be an important new type of venue in the future.
The history of collaboration between the artists at each location includes decades of localized musical partnerships, close telematic collaborations between Dresser and Weaver since 2007 and with Dessen since 2008, and collaborations that have developed in recent years, which all inform the music. Previous telematic iterations have been single concert events, but what we are proposing here is a new and important step forward: A “virtual tour” is a series of music concerts with musicians and live audiences in different remote locations each night, featuring common and site specific new compositions that are suited to our changing partners. This new format will enable us to further mine the potentials of telematics on both artistic and environmental levels. Through telematic rehearsals with each of our partners, we will develop a body of music that normally would have required multiple transcontinental and trans-atlantic flights, saving thousands of dollars, scores of travel hours, and much fossil fuel.
Previous collaborations have convinced us that the telematic medium is a viable, professional venue that extends upon the traditional concert-hall experience in exciting ways. Our software allows the use of uncompressed, CD-quality audio and high-definition video, such that the artists are able to work within a highly intimate, studio-quality environment. This has led us to a more immersive and richly-detailed audio-visual model for live music performance, something normally associated only with the recording studio. These distinct proportions of acoustic, visual and spatial properties of telematics expand the traditional performative space in powerful ways, opening the door to new forms of immersive, audio-visual integration for live music performance. Rather than perform repertoire composed for traditional concert halls, we will develop new work conceived specifically for the telematic stage.
Our explorations are as much about the collaborative process as they are about the final product, and in this sense as well, telematics offers exciting new possibilities. We are part of a large community of experimental improviser-composers in which musicians choose their collaborators not so much based on the instrument one plays or their possession of conventional instrumental virtuosity, but rather on the highly personalized vocabulary and sound that one has developed as an individual. Given this core value, it is natural that we often need to collaborate with specific individuals who resonate with our musical goals, but are based in distant locations. Networking technologies provide options for this type of collaboration that have never before existed in the history of music.
In addition, telematics offer a format for sharing our music with audiences in remote locations that will truly change the nature of music distribution while simultaneously providing ecological benefits. By definition, experimental work in the performing arts appeals to a smaller audience than the products of mass media, and because our audience is spread across the planet, we are itinerant musicians accustomed to grueling tours that are costly on personal, economic and environmental levels. A virtual tour is a future model for sharing our music live with co-located audiences as well as collaborating with musicians from afar, at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint.
In our increasingly networked world, telematics will surely become a profoundly important performance medium, yet to date few performing artists have been able to explore it in significant depth. We have been at the forefront of these experiments during the past few years, and with this project, we are continuing to set a new standard for this emerging field.
San Diego, core group, April 5-7:
Mark Dresser, bass
Michael Dessen, trombone
Myra Melford, piano
Nicole Mitchell, flute
Victoria Petrovich, scenic design
Trevor Henthorn, technical director
Mike Gao, video director
Amherst, MA: Amherst College
7pm PDT / 10pm EDT
Marty Ehrlich, woodwinds
Jason Robinson, woodwinds
Bob Weiner, drums
Mark Santolucito-technical director
Video- Ross Karre and company
Zurich, Switzerland: Institute of Computer Music and Technology, ICST
Noon PDT / 9pm CET
Gerry Hemingway, percussion
Matthias Ziegler, flutes
Network director, Johannes Schütt
Video direction-Joel Di Giovanni/Benjamin Burger
Stony Brook, NY: Stony Brook University, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Consortium for Digital Arts, Culture, and Technology (cDACT)
4pm PDT / 7pm EDT
Sarah Weaver, composer/conductor
Jane Ira Bloom-soprano sax
Min Xiao-Fen – pipa
Matt Wilson – drums
Derek Kwan- technologist
Timothy Vallier – technologist
Video- Ross Karre and company
Co-directors of Virtual Tour: Mark Dresser and Michael Dessen
Amherst site director: Jason Robinson
Stonybrook site director: Sarah Weaver
Zurich site director: Matthias Ziegler
For more information, please contact Mark Dresser: