Beyond the Machine 8.0 Explores the 'Art of Groove'

The Music Technology Center at Juilliard, directed by Edward Bilous, will present the eighth edition of Beyond the Machine, titled “Art of Groove.” This year, B.T.M. will feature works using electronics that in some way utilize “groove” as tool for musical expression. The program will explore how different composers have reconciled traditional classical sensibilities with the driving energy of contemporary culture. This year, B.T.M. presents works by three Juilliard students, one alumnus, and three guest composers. All works will be performed by Juilliard’s Axiom Ensemble.


Ryan Francis, a student of Robert Beaser, will present Quiet Music, a work for string ensemble with electronics. Ryan uses the electronics to generate the tense “groove” rhythm, coupled with sensitive string writing. He writes in his program note that he is inspired by the work of Catalan painter Joan Miró, and that he sought to find Miró’s ability “to be delicate and enormous at the same time.”

Jakub Ciupinski, a student of Christopher Rouse and already an established new voice in his native Poland, presents a new work for piano, electric keyboard, marimba, electric marimba, and two theremins. Jakub borrows from the pop vernacular but his rhythmic language unfolds through layered processing reminiscent of Adams or Reich.

Flutist/composer Jeremiah Bills is currently enrolled in Kimura's interactive computer music performance class. His work Incantation is for flute, Kenyan noisemaker, and interactive computer system MaxMSP. Jeremiah transforms himself as a “virtual shaman” through interactive computer, manipulating live flute and sounds made by the Kenyan noisemaker in real time. Armed with a laptop running the latest interactive technology, Jeremiah will engage in what he calls a “ritual journey” through which the instruments are “transformed or ‘enchanted’” before returning to their “pure state.”

Mason Bates, a composer who is also a Music Technology Center alumnus, offers Digital Loom, an exciting work for organ and electronics, recruiting the ancient instrument to play dance music. Mason writes, “Indeed the organist—like his modern-day club counterpart, the D.J.—is simultaneously perceived as background accompaniment to various activities,” and says that he was attracted by the organ’s ability to play loudly enough to compete with electronics. We will be “grooving” with the “organ D.J.” in Digital Loom.

This year’s B.T.M. concert also features versatile composer Scott Johnson, who will present the U.S. premiere ofAmericans for clarinet/bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, viola, electric guitar, bass, piano, drums, and sampler. Johnson writes that Americans was composed “specifically about the collision of America and the rest of the world … I began to think in terms of an orchestration that combined the rhythm section of an American bar band with an eclectic group of melodic instruments.”

Also featured this year is Ron Ford, who will present his award-winning Salome Fast for ensemble, live speaking voice, and electronics. Ford writes, “Salome Fast is not based on Strauss’s opera, but from its libretto … The libretto was translated into English and ruthlessly reduced to the absolutely necessary minimum of text … The speed with which one is whipped through this material gives the piece a Bugs Bunny cartoon-like character.”

Lastly, B.T.M. is proud to present JacobTV, a Dutch “avant-pop” composer, who will present Grab It! XL for a large band and video. Since 1999, this extremely popular work has been played almost daily somewhere on the globe. JacobTV writes, “In Grab It! I tried to explore the ‘no-man’s-land’ between language and music. … Grab It! is based on voice samples from life-sentenced prisoners. Their world, on the fringe of society, with its heartbreaking verbal assaults moved and inspired me.”

This year’s concert will be presented at Columbia University’s Miller Theater, with Milica Paranosic as producer, William Fastenow as technical director, Christopher Downes as technical advisor, and the participation of faculty members Mari Kimura and Michael Czajkowski.

Beyond the Machine has grown tremendously in recent years and has attracted an audience far beyond the walls of Lincoln Center. In September we will take our program to the Orpheum Stiftung for the Advancement of Young Soloists in Zurich. We are also planning other tours that will bring us to Paris and Melbourne in the following year.

If all goes according to plan, next year’s B.T.M. 9.0 will take place in the new Rosemary and Meredith Willson Theater, designed to accommodate sophisticated multimedia events and equipped for live digital processing, projection design, and Internet II access. Across the hall from the Willson will be the new, state-of-the-art Music Technology Center, which will have a “playroom” for artists to develop interactive and multimedia projects and a digital recording studio for students interested in film scoring and music production.

Plans are in the works for the creation of an interdisciplinary program, to be launched in 2009-10, that will represent the natural evolution of InterArts (first launched in 1993) and will offer students from all three divisions an opportunity to develop multimedia and interdisciplinary work.


Popular Columns

Recent Issues