North River Music Season 25 Finale: Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick Revisits "Silver Apples of the Moon"

Lecture/Demonstration, Followed By A Short Performance

Friday, April 8, 2011 at 6 pm
46 Barrow Street
(between Bedford St. & 7th Ave. S)

TICKETS: $15 General Admission/$10 Students/Seniors

For the last installment of North River Music’s 25th anniversary season, Greenwich House Music School (GHMS) presented an evening with pioneer of electronic music and multimedia performance, Morton Subotnick.

The performance was part of the UnSound Music Festival, which took place in venues across the city from April 1 - April 10, 2011. View the festival program.

In this performance, the synthesizer legend retraced the development of his 1967 classic album, Silver Apples of the Moon, which the Library of Congress inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2009. The lecture-demonstration served as an appendix to Subotnick’s appearance at Lincoln Center’s Unsound Festival New York on April 7, during which the composer revisited this landmark composition with visual accompaniment from Berlin-based video artist Lillevan. The GHMS talk was followed by a short solo performance by Subotnick.

Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon was the first electronic work composed especially for an LP recording (commissioned by Nonesuch Records). It is also one of the first compositions entirely created for a modular analogue synthesizer, the Buchla Electronic Music Box (commissioned by Subotnick and Ramon Sender). In 2009, the Library of Congress selected Silver Apples of the Moon as one of the 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry, a collection now comprising 300 music, spoken word, and audio documentary recordings deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. “One of the unique features of Buchla’s instrument,” writes the Library of Congress, “was its use of the electronic sequencer, a device capable of creating repeating, rhythmic sequences of musical notes or timbres. Subotnick uses the sequencer extensively and effectively in the creation of many repeated figures in the recording, creating a canonical statement for this pioneering technology.”

With Silver Apples of the Moon, Subotnick created a new musical genre that anticipated today’s home stereo system – twentieth century chamber music that people could experience with headsets within their own four walls. He then proceeded to re-conceptualize his vision for the stage, turning to multimedia performance and reincorporating improvisation into the process. For the Lincoln Center performance, Subotnick will “deconstruct” Silver Apples, and A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur, his first and last electronic recordings, to spontaneously reconstruct them in a live performance, using the latest Buchla synthesizer and a laptop with Ableton Live software. At GHMS, the composer explained the vision behind the work, how it was created, and how it can be performed nowadays.

Founded by Frank Wigglesworth in 1985, GHMS’s North River Music is one of New York City’s first concert series devoted to new and experimental music.

More information on the Lincoln Center Unsound New York performance. Read more about Subotnick in the Wall Street Journal.

About the Artist

Morton Subotnick is one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. The work which brought Subotnick celebrity was Silver Apples of the Moon [1966-7], was commissioned by Nonesuch Records, marking the first time an original large-scale composition had been created specifically for the disc medium - a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. He is also pioneering works to offer musical creative tools to young children. He is the author of a series of CDROMS for children, a children’s website [] and developing a program for classroom and after school programs that will soon become available internationally. He tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as a lecturer and composer/performer.

Funding for North River Music is provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

About Greenwich House

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