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Posts tagged 'Joan La Barbara'

Joan La Barbara Performances in Zurich and Montréal

(Joan La Barbara, photo: Aleksandar Kostic)

Joan La Barbara
continues to be one of the busiest musicians working in the field of new music, both as a composer and a performer. And this work consists not only of commissions and performances, but also actively expanding the reach of her music to audiences around the globe. In October, La Barbara was involved with two festivals that emphasize the paths her work traces between seemingly different worlds. 

La Barbara's month kicked off with several performances and a master class at the Zürcher Hochschule der Kunste in Zurich, Switzerland, to celebrate the 85h birthday of her longtime friend and collaborator Alvin Lucier. Over the course of the four-day festival, La Barbara performed Morton Feldman's Only, Lucier's recent work Palimpsest (with text by Lydia Davis), and Double Rainbow, a new work for voice and oscillator. La Barbara also gave a master class and participated in a symposium with festival participants. Check out the full program here, and an excerpt of La Barbara performing Lucier's Palimpsest below: 

Across the Atlantic, La Barbara brought her mastery of the human voice to another venue: the Montreal Planetarium. La Barbara's pioneering compositional and performing voice has also reached new audiences in the electronic music community, including recognition from Red Bull Music Academy. RBMA, which has featured interviews with La Barbara and Morton Subotnick, presented a sold out concert featuring La Barbara, Pauline Oliveros, Lucrecia Dalt and Pan Daijing. La Barbara was also featured on RBMA's "Fireside Chat" radio interview series, with an episode airing on November 1, 2016 at 8pm CDT.  

Joan La Barbara Joins PSNY

(Joan La Barbara; photo credit: Aleksandar Kostic)

Joan La Barbara
knows what it means to sing. And in the process of singing over the past forty years, she has redefined the possibilities of the term itself. Using her voice as an instrument, she has developed a vocal style that transcends convention, extending the technology of her voice to wildly new places of discovery and creativity. Since the early 1970s, La Barbara has been composing and performing works for her own voice and other collaborators: electronics, video, environments, dancers, synthesizers, and instruments. Each of these works blends the singularity of her voice with the wider world of sound.

PSNY is honored to publish four works by La Barbara that span several decades of her career. These highly evocative and unique works range in instrumentation from solo violin to chamber ensemble, but all involve La Barbara's voice in some way or another—either her compositional voice or in her scoring for live human voice.

This is perhaps easiest to hear in her work in the shadow and act of the haunting place (1995), for voice and chamber ensemble, which La Barbara calls a "sound painting in the style of some of my multi-track vocal works." This work sees La Barbara's extended vocal techniques translated to instruments—an act which La Barbara says evokes "moments of mystery and strange beauty with some hints of danger."

This work served as a model for a larger composition for the Nai-Ni Dance Company, titled Calligraphy II/Shadows, where several of the Western instruments were exchanged for close equivalents in the Chinese classical tradition.  

 La Barbara's talent for translation is also shown in Vlissingen Harbor (1982), a composition that evokes her time spent in the seaport village of Vlissingen in southern Holland. Scored for voice and ensemble, this piece reimagines the harbor soundscape in an instrumental realization, calling on all eight players to use their breath to evoke the sonic seascape.

Flash! (2005), a virtuoso piece for solo violin, again translates the composer's voice into the language of string instruments, evoking the thrilling potentialities of the solo violin in the tradition of film scoring. Challenging the performer to keep up with the score, Flash! is a showstopping piece that extends instrumental technique in the service of extending our sonic imaginations of what a violin is capable of. 

We look forward to publishing more works by Joan La Barbara in the near future, so stay tuned!

New Music Mondays: Morton Subotnick, Mario Diaz de Leon, & Scott Wollschleger

With snow piling up across America, it's a great opportunity to spend some time indoors practicing... new music! This week we're excited to feature three newly-pubilshed works: Morton Subotnick's "Trembling", Mario Diaz de Leon's "Luciform", and Scott Wollschleger's "America".

Morton Subotnick's "Trembling" is scored for violin, piano and "ghost score" technology, Subotnick's interactive electro-acoustic software which autonomously spatializes and reacts to acoustic phenomena. Taking a recording of Joan La Barbara speaking the word "trembling," Subotnick "recorded, synthesized, and transformed" this utterance and used it as the basis for his composition. Check out a sample of the recording below: 

Mario Diaz de Leon's "Luciform", for solo flute and electronics, also plays with the interaction between performer and software, but in a different way; the work is a "journey inward, a movement through a series of vision states. A difficult path, a rite of passage, hovering between diabolical intensity and lucid wakefulness." Recently recorded by Claire Chase for her fantastic album "Density," "Luciform" is a complex, intensely virtuosic work with a profound depth of both acoustic and electronic textures. 

Though Scott Wollschleger's "America", for solo cello, does not include electronics, it remains connected to Subotnick's and Diaz de Leon's works through its exploration of "timbre, virtuosity, and differential repetition." Not bound to pitch-space or harmonic structures, Wollschleger's work explores the timbral possibilities of the cello with extended technique with both instrumentation and sonic organization. 


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