The Symbiosis of Composer and Performer According to Evan Ziporyn

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A prolific composer and performer, Evan Ziporyn has written for Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, Kronos Quartet and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Ziporyn cofounded the Bang on a Can All-Stars, with whom he premiered commissioned works by a diverse group of musicians including Terry Riley, Tan Dun and Brian Eno, and is the founder of Gamelon Galak Tika. He is currently on faculty at MIT.

We Have Never Been Modern...
by Evan Ziporyn

Bruno Latour is the one who said it, but we already know it, or at least feel it, deep down in the limbic system.  Certainly the creators of the following seem to.  I'm not sure what these old favorites and new discoveries have in common beyond having induced something in me on first contact - the momentary epiphany, the chill in my spine, a tinge, a small but significant veer.  

In all cases, in ways large or small, things weren't the same afterward.  In all of them the composer and performer are true collaborators - even when the two are one and the same or the performer is a machine.  

In any case it's hard to imagine any one of these having the same affect if someone else were playing it.  In all of them also one is also reminded that notes are more than notes, that the music (or music in general) as represented on the page (or simply as an idea) is far less than what it is in its actual being.  They keep the body in mind and the mind in the body.


Meredith Monk - Porch - She opens every concert with this and it's very clear why - a wordless voice, calling itself into existence and the world to attention, teaching us how to listen and putting us in the perfect space to do so.

Moondog/Saxophonic - Dog Trot - as another great canon master (Baroque guy, wrote a lot of fugues, can't remember his name right now) once put it, 'wachet auf!

Arnold Dreyblatt & the Orchestra of Excited Strings - Next Slide - the love child of Lamonte Young and Bo Diddley, embracing the eternal now now now now now. 

Nobukazu Takemura - Falls Lake - synthesized voice and sine waves, a song of consolation for the coming robot age.

Steve Martland - Dancework: Dance 2  - a gentle Turrette's-tinged waltz from this seminal British composer.

Ryan Francis/Vicky Chow - Digital Sustain - look ma, just two hands, and no processing despite the title - the new virtuosity as metaphor, on the razors edge between the pensive and the humanly impossible, and a great composer/performer partnership.

Captain Beefheart/Gary Lucas - Evening Bell - another amazing melding of musical minds, Lucas' debut on Van Vliet's final LP - the other side of elegance.

Gyan Riley -  Herbie Moonshine's Last Dancew/Tracy Silverman, Scott Amendola, & Zakir Hussein - Mahavishnu meets Les Paul, leading us to ask: what took them so long?

Iva Bittová - Zelený Víneček - Prague Philharmonia/David Svec, conductor (Petr Ostrouchov, arranger) Iva with orchestra and children's choir, what's not to like...

Glenn Branca/New York Chamber Orchestra/Glen Cortese, conductor - The World Upside Down: Movement 1 (The Temple of Venus)the yang of Glenn.

Glenn Branca - The Tone Row That Ruled The Worldand the yin.

Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo, Arapua - three decades later, I continue to stand in awe...

Anonymous musician from Burundi - Complainte Avec Viele Monocorde - part of the vast treasure trove of traditional musics that are tragically disappearing quicker than languages and species.

Irish Traditional, arranged and performed by Nicholas Cords - Pórt Na BPúcai - these last 3 tracks are all from the last six months - this is from Nick's gorgeous solo viola CD.

Andy Akiho/Mariel Roberts - Three Shades, Foreshadows (excerpt) - and this from Mariel's debut CD, another great collaboration, a beautiful melding of the real and the virtual.

Christine Southworth/Kronos Quartet/Gamelan Elektrika - Super Collider  (excerpt- worlds clash, create glorious noise...a bouillabaisse in celebration of the law of unintended consequences.