June in Buffalo 25th Anniversary Exhibit
Curated by John Bewley
- June in Buffalo 1975
- June in Buffalo, 2000
Foss became a co-director of the Center, along with the Chair of the Music Department, Allen Sapp, who had been instrumental in the Buffalo Philharmonic's selection of Foss. The Center operated from 1964 to 1980, during which time it awarded fellowships to 119 musicians, known as Creative Associates, including some of the most prominent performers and composers of contemporary music.
This online exhibit is principally based upon an exhibit held at the State University of New York at Buffalo Music Library in June 2000 for the 25th anniversary of the founding of the June in Buffalo festival. The floral logo used in the Table of Contents for this online exhibit is from the design by Bud Jacobs used for the first June in Buffalo festival in 1975.
A catalogue of the performances recorded at June in Buffalo for the years 1975-1978 and 1980 is available in the Music Library and online.
Morton Feldman joined the University at Buffalo Music Faculty in 1972. He was the Slee Professor, 1972-1973, Edgar Varèse Professor, 1975-1987, and the Director of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts, 1976-1980. Feldman established the June in Buffalo festival in 1975 as a counterpart to the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts' successful Evenings for New Music concerts. The new festival was presented 1975-1978, and again in 1980, with a year off in 1979 when Feldman was on sabbatical.
David Felder became a member of the University at Buffalo Music Faculty in 1985. He worked quickly during his first year in Buffalo and successfully revived the June in Buffalo festival in 1986. He has been its Artistic Director since that time.
Like Feldman's earlier incarnation, the newer version of the festival is also part conference, including lectures and panel discussions by the composition faculty. However, more emphasis is placed on providing opportunities for young, emerging composers in Felder's current version of the festival. Participating composers not only work with established composers, but also get to hear their own compositions presented in a professional setting. Their works are now presented on the same programs as the composition faculty.
The list of composers who have served as faculty, or whose works have been the focus of concerts at the June in Buffalo festival is impressive. It includes Milton Babbitt, Henry Brant, Earle Brown, Aaron Copland, George Crumb, Jacob Druckman, Donald Erb, David Felder, Morton Feldman, Brian Ferneyhough, Lukas Foss, Philip Glass, Lou Harrison, Lejaren Hiller, Aaron Jay Kernis, Paul Lansky, Cort Lippe, Philippe Manoury, Stephen Mosko, Bernard Rands, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds, Poul Ruders, Ralph Shapey, Harvey Sollberger, Gerhard Stabler, Jeffrey Stadelman, Augusta Read Thomas, Virgil Thomson, Nils Vigeland, Diderik Wagenaar, Christian Wolff, Charles Wuorinen, and Iannis Xenakis.
The role of the performer in the generative process of contemporary music is significant. Many composers, using different means, have written music that requires creative, rather than merely re-creative, participation by performers. In writing about the music of John Cage, Morton Feldman, Earle Brown, and Christian Wolff in his program notes for the Hat Hut Records CD The New York School, Art Lange noted the importance of both performer and listener.
Indeterminate music seeks this same state -- to combine composer and performer(s) into a single functioning entity, though they be separate people, and once again the listener is essential to complete the experience. Empathetic, considerate performers and listeners are a necessity, to sustain the fragile, albeit ambiguous, thread of communication passed from one to another.
The contemporary music scene at the University at Buffalo has always been structured to foster strong, collaborative working relationships between composers and performers. This atmosphere dates back to Lukas Foss' original conception for the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts in 1964. Performers who came to Buffalo as Creative Associates at the Center really had only one thing required of them: to strive for mastery of their craft. Creative Associates who were composers had the luxury of working with a group of performers who were dedicated to performing contemporary music at the highest possible standard.
The list of performers who have participated in programs of contemporary music in Buffalo is as full of notable names as that of the list of composers whose works have been performed. It includes Eberhard Blum, Robert Dick, Gilbert Kalish, Ursula Oppens, Aki Takahashi, Frances-Marie Uitti, Nils Vigeland, Paul Zukofsky, the Kronos Quartet, Concord String Quartet, Cassatt Quartet, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York New Music Ensemble, Arditti String Quartet, American Brass Quintet, and the Amherst Sax Quartet. Three performers who belong on this list, and who were long-time members of the University at Buffalo Music Faculty, are Sylvia Dimiziani, Yvar Mikhashoff, and Jan Williams.
Pianist and composer Yvar Mikhashoff was a member of the University at Buffalo Music Faculty from 1973 until his death in 1993. He was internationally known as a skilled interpreter and proponent of twentieth century music. He either commissioned or had works composed for him by many composers, including John Cage, Lukas Foss, Christian Wolff, Henry Brant, Sylvano Bussotti, Per Norgaard, Luis de Pablo, and Conlon Nancarrow. He was also responsible for initiating the International Tango Project which eventually collected and/or commissioned more than one hundred tangos from composers.
Mikhashoff also left a legacy of support for contemporary music by creating the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music from his estate. The Trust provides grants, awards, and fellowships to support performers, composers, and presenters of contemporary music.
In 1979, Morton Feldman took a sabbatical from his duties at the University at Buffalo. As a result, the June in Buffalo festival did not take place that year. Yvar Mikhashoff filled the gap by presenting three programs of twenty-nine works from the twentieth-century piano repertory. It was a veritable one-man June in Buffalo festival. Included on the June 7th program was Morton Feldman's Piano (1977).
Yvar Mikhashoff worked with Morton Feldman to prepare his composition, Piano (1977) for performance. Mikhashoff's copy of the score is full of detailed markings. Some of the markings directly reflect comments made by Feldman during their sessions together. The following quote is from a tribute to Morton Feldman that Yvar Mikhashoff wrote following Feldman's death on Sept. 4, 1987. The full tribute appeared in the Oct. 4, 1987 edition of the Buffalo Evening News.
Equally wonderful was his sense of analogy and metaphor. Once he was teaching me how to play his work entitled PIANO (1977), approaching the task like a film or drama director teaching an actor. There was a passage that consisted of five quiet notes in succession, very slow, ranging upward from the bottom to the top of the piano, followed by a longish pause. When I told him that I was puzzled by his musical gesture, he said, "In those five notes is the entire 19th-century piano repertoire, then you wait for the 20th."
The passage to which Mikhashoff referred is marked on page four of the score as "All of piano music."
Jan Williams came to Buffalo as a Creative Associate at the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts in 1964. He became a member of the University at Buffalo Music Faculty in 1967 and Co-Director of the Center in 1974. He has been a mainstay of the contemporary music scene, not only in Buffalo, but also internationally, as percussionist, conductor, administrator, and educator.
In May, 2000 Jan Williams wrote the following description of his work with Elliott Carter on the movements Adagio and Canto from Carter's Eight Pieces for Four Timpani (one player).
"As a Creative Associate at the newly founded (1964) Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at the State University of New York at Buffalo, I proposed scheduling a performance of Elliott Carter's Six Pieces for Four Kettledrums on one of the Evenings for New Music concerts the Creative Associates regularly presented at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo and Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City. On May 9, 1965, I performed Recitative, Moto Perpetuo, and Improvisation at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. On November 7, 1965, I performed Saëta, March and Canary on the same series, repeating the performance at Carnegie Recital Hall on December 21, 1965.
The composer was present at the New York performance, and afterward he thanked me for doing the pieces. He also expressed an interest in revising them and, since the published edition of Recitative and Improvisation was running out, having all six pieces published in the revised version. It seems that he was interested in seeking ways to bring more timbral variety to these pieces and to make them more effective performance vehicles for solo timpani. Since he was scheduled to be in residence with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the spring of 1966, he asked if I would be willing to spend some time with him and the timpani to explore some ideas he had about possible revisions and to ask me some questions about the instruments, beaters (sticks), articulation, tuning, etc. Of course, I agreed enthusiastically.
During one of our sessions, the composer expressed his interest in composing two new pieces, for a total of eight, both of which would involve many pitch changes. Some months after leaving Buffalo, he sent me the manuscripts for Adagio and Canto.
My career as a percussionist began in New York City in the early 1960's. I had the good fortune to be able to study with the late Paul Price, a musician and percussionist whose devotion to contemporary music, percussion music in particular, bordered on fanaticism. He instilled in all his students enormous respect for the music of our time and the composers who create it. I consider myself to be very lucky to have had the opportunity to devote my entire career to the study, performance, production and promotion of new music. Probably the single facet of my career that has been the most exhilarating has been performer/composer interactions like the one described here with Elliott Carter. The most exciting performance situation for me is still one where the composer is in the audience."
Carter's appreciation for Jan Williams' help can be seen in his inscription on the published score of Eight Pieces for Four Timpani. Comparing Jan Williams' copy of the score of Adagio to the published edition, it is possible to see the changes that Carter marked in the score which he then incorporated into the final version of the work.
|Composition Faculty, 2000
All of the composition faculty for June in Buffalo 2000 have participated in the festival in the past. The following list details when each composer first had music performed at one of the University at Buffalo's contemporary music festivals, including June in Buffalo.