waking states

charles curtis interprets 
la monte young  /  Úliane radigue  /  alvin lucier  /  terry jennings  /  morton feldman


December 3-17, 2005
New York

A survey of singular works for solo cello, presented in seven concerts over fifteen days in intimate New York venues: works created for cellist Charles Curtis by La Monte Young, Eliane Radigue and Alvin Lucier; a major composition by early Minimalist Terry Jennings; and Morton Feldman's "Patterns in a Chromatic Field". These mostly concert-length works treat time, frequency and human experience as an undivided state of awareness; over the long durations of the individual works, and the series, sound elicits unique qualities of sentience, focus and attentiveness.

Waking States lays out, first and foremost, the special body of interpretive work developed by Curtis as one of the key performers of American experimental music. Waking States invites the listener to participate in a sequence of intense perceptual experiences, unfolding as complementary stations in an immersive whole.


La Monte Young    Marian Zazeela
Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord (2002-2005)
in a setting of Abstract #1  (2003) from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals with Dream Light

for solo cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light projection
3 hours, 30 minutes

An extraordinary solo of more than three hours continuous length, and the only solo work composed by La Monte Young for a performer other than himself. Combining elements of Young's magnum opus The Well-Tuned Piano with raga and Dream Music, and a beautiful, subtly changing light projection by Marian Zazeela, this is one of the definitive statements of these great artists' work. Charles Curtis is the leading intepreter of Young's music; in performance he realizes the highly abstract just intonation interval ratios with unprecedented precision. Of Curtis' premiere performance at the MaerzMusik festival in Berlin 2004, Wire magazine writes: "Playing to a hypnotic cello drone issuing from the loudspeakers beside him, he built up a shimmering minimalistic tableau that made for compulsive listening throughout his three hour performance."

These performances represent the American avant-premiere, following World Premieres and performances in Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Dijon and Polling, Germany.

December 3, 10, 17 / Saturdays at 8
MELA Foundation Dream House
275 Church Street (between Franklin and White)
$24 / $18
Reservations:  mail@melafoundation.org 212-925-8270


Eliane Radigue
Naldjorlak (2005)

for solo cello
65 minutes

Created in close collaboration with Charles Curtis, Naldjorlak is the first entirely acoustic composition by a composer who has pioneered pure electronic sound for over thirty years. Delicate in its dynamic range, the work explores highly diffuse bowed textures that defy perceptual focus; the hidden, untamed ur-sonority of the cello is revealed as a deeply unstable and complex source. The Tibetan title refers to the motion of all life toward unity; in a seamlessly interwoven three-part structure, the audible shape mirrors the geography of the cello.

The New York Times describes Eliane Radigue's music as "a steady stream of sonic activity taking place right at the edge of one's perception". Qualities of intense concentration, focus and selflessness inform the spirituality of all of Radigue's work.  World Premiere Performance

December 5 / Monday at 9
Tenri Cultural Institute
43A West 13th Street (between Sixth and Fifth Avenues)
$12 / $9


Alvin Lucier
Cello and Pure Waves

Charles Curtis (2002)
for solo cello with slow sweep, pure wave oscillators
13 minutes

Music for Cello with One or More Amplified Vases (1993) New York Premiere
25 minutes

Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas (1973-74) (original version)
standing waves, unattended percussion
25 minutes

Three significant works by one of the defining figures in American experimentalism, spanning the enormous range of his output. The physics of sound in space are explored with arresting vividness. Acoustical beating patterns spin palpably in the listening space, redefining the physical environment. The concert can be regarded as a performed articulation of miniature sound environments in sequence. Curtis' double CD of Lucier's work is recently released on Sigma Editions/Antiopic Records.

December 7 / Wednesday at 9
Diapason - Gallery for Sound
1026 Sixth Avenue, #2-S
$12 / $9


Terry Jennings
Piece for Cello and Saxophone (1960)

for cello, sine waves and cello drones
70 minutes

Terry Jennings (1940-1981) was a key figure in the first generation of Minimalist composers and artists. His performances in the early sixties at venues such as The Living Theatre and Yoko Ono's Chambers Street loft left unforgettable impressions on his listeners, and his collaborations on saxophone with La Monte Young, John Cale, Charlotte Moorman and others are the stuff of legend. A troubled life and early death have left his legacy largely undocumented; performances of his music are extremely rare. La Monte Young was Jennings' closest associate and teacher, and Charles Curtis has studied Jennings' music with Young since first encountering the Piece for Cello and Saxophone in 1989.

Jennings' music is sparse and nearly motionless, emotionally direct, and fragile in the extreme. Piece for Cello and Saxophone is a monumental reflection on a handful of chords and melodic patterns, somewhat resembling raga, but modulating through a chorale-like progression in very slow motion. The solo version Curtis performs evolved from an arrangement created by La Monte Young, in which Young himself performed the saxophone part as a vocalist, with Curtis sustaining the cello drones. In a subsequent formation, Curtis learned the solo part by following Young's improvisations as a sarangi player follows a vocalist, while an ensemble of three cellists sustained the drones. Young thus passed the tradition of the solo role on to Curtis to create this version.

An unknown masterpiece, Piece for Cello and Saxophone is one of the most beautiful examples of the very first phase of American Minimalism.

December 11 / Sunday at 8 (twenty-fourth anniversary of the death of Terry Jennings)
107 Norfolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington)
$12 / $9


Morton Feldman
Patterns in a Chromatic Field (1981)

for cello and piano
80 minutes

Charles Curtis, cello
Aleck Karis, piano

Among Feldman's most complex and enigmatic scores, marked by alternations of breathless speed with stasis, abrupt changes in texture and mood, and an atmosphere of profound lamentation. Feldman compared the slight microtonality in the cello writing to the natural dyes in antique carpets: the slight variations in hue and intensity cause the entire "chromatic field" of a carpet to shimmer. The acclaimed CD by Curtis and Karis on Tzadik Records was one of the top ten classical CD's of 2004 in Britain's Wire magazine.

The concert takes place in a Tribeca carpet gallery with a special hanging of antique Anatolian textiles, an art form of lifelong interest to Morton Feldman.

December 14 / Wednesday at 9
Double Knot Rug Gallery
13 White Street (between Sixth Avenue and West Broadway)
free admission


Charles Curtis is an acclaimed soloist and chamber musician. Since the early eighties he has pursued a dual path, working in the worlds of experimental rock and sound art while continuing as a highly respected performer of the traditional cello repertoire. For ten years he was first solo cellist of the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg, and he has appeared as soloist with major conductors and orchestras worldwide. In Waking States he presents the fruit of his close personal and musical friendships with some of the most original figures in experimental music.

For more information contact Rachel Jimenez at 718.499.4842 or wakingstates@gardenvariety.org, and visit http://www.gardenvariety.org/projects/wakingstates