Karen Bentley Pollick's performance of "Cluck Old Hen Variations," performed in conjunction with Fred Kolouch's specially-created fanciful video, at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University, November, 2014.
In the early 1970s, I was involved with a New York-based experimental bluegrass music scene that was remarkable in its energy and unbridled creativity. The music was Ivesian in its dynamic freedom and wealth of ideas, freely crossing stylistic boundaries while still having at its core a roots music soul. The time I spent playing, jamming and hanging out with these musicians made a lasting impression on my musical approach, though it was only after I worked with Henry Brant that I started to see a way to integrate it into my own compositions.
One of the musicians with whom I performed and recorded at that time was banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka. I just discovered that several tracks from his 1975 album "Heartland" are available as MP3 downloads at this link. I played on tracks 15, 16 and 22.* Other LPs I played on during this time period include "Bottle Hill - Light our way along the highway" (with whom I toured from 1973-1975) and "Stacy Philips - All Old Friends" (Stacy is an amazing dobro player), but neither of these recordings is apparently on line currently.
(*) The other musicians on these tracks are Andy Statman, John Miller, Harry Orloff, Barry Mitterhoff and Dave Schwartz, and (track 22) Kenny Kosek, Russ Barenberg, Andy Statman, Roger Mason and Richard Crooks.
The Galax Quartet and Karen Clark successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to fund the remainder of composer and performance costs of my new work "Eight O's in Woolloomooloo." My heartfelt gratitude to all of you. In these days of commodity culture, it's wonderful to have had your support for hand-made music in the experimentalist tradition of Charles Ives and Henry Brant.
I hope you can join us for the premiere performance on December 4th, at Trinity Chapel, Dana Street, Berkeley, 7:30 PM, followed by a reception at A Musical Offering following the concert. Sponsored in part by the San Francisco Early Music Society. Info here.
Violinist Karen Bentley Pollick will be performing Cluck Old Hen Variations on October 5th, 2014 in New York City at SPECTRUM, a new alternative contemporary music venue, founded by Glenn Corbett. The performance will premiere a new film by Fred Kolouch, created specifically to be projected in combination with the live performance. (A sample still image from the film is shown below.)
On October 10th, 2014, Ms. Bentley Pollick will be performing the work at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum as part of a concert of the Paul Dresher Double Duo.
On November 20th, 2014, Karen will be performing Cluck Old Hen Variations (with the film by Fred Kolouch) at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), the Knoll, Stanford University. More info here.
The Galax Quartet has commissioned me to write Eight O's in Woolloomooroo, based on a text by Mark Twain. In this work, Galax will be joined by contralto Karen Clark. Work on the piece is supported by a grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the San Francisco Early Music Society and the Galax Quartet.
From the first time I heard Galax, a year ago, I was immediately drawn to the subtlety and virtuosity of their playing. The Galax Quartet is modeled after an early version of the string quartet — two Baroque violins, Baroque cello and viola da gamba — developed by the eighteenth century composer and viola da gamba virtuoso, Carl Friedrich Abel. The personnel of Galax include some of the top early music musicians in the world: Elizabeth Blumenstock, David Wilson, Roy Whelden and David Morris.
I first met Karen Clark way back when I was a Visiting Professor at Princeton University. There,as part of the Composer's Ensemble, she gave a stellar performance of my work, Number Man, for the ghost of J.S. Bach for four voices and oboe. I was floored by the flexibility of her voice and by her musicality. I am very much looking forward to collaborating with her and Galax on this new work.