HEDY AND GEORGE: IMPROBABLE COLLABORATORS, UNCONVENTIONAL INNOVATORS

hedy_and_george
DATE: Friday, June 1, 2012
TIME: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
VENUE: Le Poisson Rouge
MODERATOR: John Schaefer
PARTICIPANTS: Carmelo Amarena, Tyondai Braxton, Jennifer Choi, Philip Glass, Tristan Perich, Richard Rhodes, Kathleen Supové

An evening of intimate conversation and musical performance as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes and some of the most forward-thinking composers of our age, explore the extraordinary lives and legacies of two unconventional innovators: the legendary screen siren Hedy Lamarr and renowned avant-garde composer George Antheil. In a remarkable and unlikely union, Lamarr, known as ‘the most beautiful woman in the world,’ and Antheil, the self-described ‘bad boy of music,’ joined forces during World War II to invent a secret communication system that presaged today’s GPS, cell phone and Bluetooth technologies. Today, George Antheil is revered as a pioneer of electronic music. Some of his compositions were so far ahead of their time that the technology to bring them to life only materialized decades after his death. The conversation on innovation, science and music will be amplified by a series of performances of Antheil’s seminal scores and explorations of today’s most avant-garde electronica.

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Moderator

John Schaefer
Radio Host

John Schaefer is the host of WNYC’s innovative music and talk show Soundcheck, which features live performances and interviews with a variety of guests. Since 1982, Schaefer has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds, which Billboard magazine has called “the #1 radio show for the Global Village,” and since 1986 he has hosted the New Sounds Live concert series. He has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music, the Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music, and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin. His liner notes appear on more than 100 recordings, ranging from the 1996 award-winning The Music of Armenia to recordings by Yo Yo Ma, Terry Riley, and many others.

Schaefer has curated the BAM World Music Festival and the new music and film series at the World Financial Center, chaired the Pulitzer Prize jury for Music, and hosted many lectures and panels for Lincoln Center, BAM, and Tanglewood’s Contemporary Music Festival, among others.

Participants

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Electrical Engineer

Carmelo ‘Nino’ Amarena is an electrical engineer with expertise in the field of digital wireless communications. He is also an inventor, designing a personal rocketpack called the ‘Thunderpack,’ which uses a peroxide-based reciprocating engine. He’s currently at work inventing a new personal flying device powered by a jet engine. In 1997, Nino spoke to Hedy Lamarr at length about frequency hopping and the invention for which she received a patent during World War Two. He recalls, “We talked like two engineers on a hot project, prompting one another to the next subject. I never felt I was talking to a movie star, but to a fellow inventor.”

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Musician, Composer

For the past sixteen years, American composer Tyondai Braxton has been actively involved in music composition and performance. Bridging the purview of his interests in solo composition, experimental sound, pop music and large-scale orchestra, his music has received critical acclaim from an extraordinarily diverse expanse of the music world. In 2009, Warp Records released Central Market, a large-scale orchestral score with performances by Wordless Music Orchestra, which, while eyeing the direction of Braxton’s work to come, spiritedly totalizes the artist’s long-standing pursuit of his own, individual modern composition. Central Market saw it’s US premiere with performances by the Wordless Music Orchestra at Lincoln Center in New York, the Library of Congress in DC, as well as at The Walker Arts Museum in Minneapolis. Said The New York Times of Central Market’s Lincoln Center premiere: “Simply – actually, quite intricately – a blast.” New York Magazine called the performance “Relentlessly exciting, elaborately layered, with the manic intensity of a movie foot chase.” Braxton co-founded the avant-rock group Battles, in which, until 2010, he performed as guitarist, keyboardist, and singer. The group received worldwide acclaim for their debut album Mirrored (2007). Since his departure from Battles, Braxton has focused on the live presentation of Central Market as well as a series of prestigious commissions, ranging from multimedia art/music installations (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) to compositions for world-renowned ensembles (the Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can) and contemporary dance (choreographer Alan Good). The music has also been adapted for ballet by Baryshnikov Art Center resident choreographer John Heginbotham.

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Violinist

Hailed by Time Out New York as “one of New York’s most reliably adventurous performers”, violinist Jennifer Choi has charted a career that breaks through the conventional boundaries of solo violin, chamber music, and the art of creative improvisation. A prominent chamber musician and solo performer, Jennifer is regularly sighted in performances of rare works that stretch the limits of violin playing often calling for extended techniques, improvisation, and the use of electronics. She can be heard on over a dozen albums for TZADIK record label in compositions by new music icons such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Wadada Leo Smith, and the Susie Ibarra Trio, and on her debut solo album, VIOLECTRICA-Works for Solo Violin and Electronics. Choi was former violinist of the Miró String Quartet, and with her involvement, the group won Grand Prize at the 1996 Fischoff and Coleman chamber music competitions. Since then, she has performed for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Ravinia Festival, Barge Music, Caramoor Music, and other chamber music series across the United States. Currently, Jennifer is the violinist of Classical Jam, the Either/Or Ensemble, the Susie Ibarra Quartet, Anti-Depressant Duo with Kathleen Supové and the newest member of ETHEL.

She has performed worldwide in venues like the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., Alice Tully Hall in New York City, and the RAI National Radio in Rome. During the 2009-2010 season, she served as Concertmaster for Lincoln Center’s National touring production of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

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Composer

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation. By 1974, Glass had a number of innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, and the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8—Glass’ latest symphonies—along with Waiting for the Barbarians, an opera based on the book by J.M. Coetzee, premiered in 2005. In the past few years several new works were unveiled, including Book of Longing (Luminato Festival) and an opera about the end of the Civil War entitled Appomattox (San Francisco Opera). The English National Opera, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera, performed Glass’ Satyagraha in London, April 2007, and the Metropolitan Opera presented the work in April 2008. Glass’ latest opera Kepler premiered with the Landestheater Linz, Austria in September 2009 and is currently working on an opera about Walt Disney that premiered at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 2013. In 2010 he collaborated with Brian Greene, David Hwang, Al Holmes, and AL Taylor on Icarus at the Edge of Time.

His Symphony #9 was completed in 2011 and was premiered by the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria on January 1, 2012. The U.S. premiere took place in New York at Carnegie Hall on January 31, 2012 as part of the composer’s 75th birthday celebration.

Photo by Steve Pyke

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Experimental Composer

Tristan Perich’s work is inspired by the aesthetic simplicity of math, physics and code. WIRE magazine describes his compositions as “an austere meeting of electronic and organic.” 1-Bit Music, his 2004 release, was the first album ever released as a microchip, programmed to synthesize his electronic composition live. His latest circuit album, 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe, 2010) has received critical acclaim, called “sublime” (New York Press), and The Wall Street Journal said “its oscillations have an intense, hypnotic force and a surprising emotional depth.” His award-winning work coupling 1-bit electronics with traditional forms in both music (Active Field, Observations) and visual art (Machine Drawings, Microtonal Wall) has been presented around the world, from Sonar and Ars Electronica to the Whitney Museum and bitforms gallery.

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Author

Richard Rhodes is the author or editor of twenty-four books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award; Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize in History; an investigation of the roots of private violence, Why They Kill; a personal memoir, A Hole in the World; a biography, John James Audubon; and four novels. He has received numerous fellowships for research and writing, including grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation Program in International Peace and Security and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard and MIT and a host and correspondent for documentaries on public television’s Frontline and American Experience series. He is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. His most recent book, Hedy’s Folly, is currently in bookstores. Rhodes lectures frequently to audiences in the United States and abroad (see Lecturing tab, above). With his wife Ginger Rhodes, a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco, he lives near Half Moon Bay, California.

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Pianist

Kathleen Supové is one of America’s most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists. She regularly presents a series of solo concerts entitled The Exploding Piano, in which she has performed and premiered works by the world’s leading composers as well as countless emerging ones. The Exploding Piano is a multimedia experience that employs theatrical elements, vocal rants, performance art, staging, electronics, and collaboration with artists from other disciplines. Supové has appeared with The Lincoln Center Festival, The Philip Glass Ensemble, Bang On a Can Marathon, Music at the Anthology, The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and other venues, ranging from concert halls to theatrical spaces to clubs. Her most recent CD is INFUSION, released on the International Classics label, which features music for solo piano and electronics. Other recordings can be found on the Tzadik, CRI, Innova, New World, Neuma, Bridge, Centaur, OO, and XI labels.

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