Arts Listings

Other Minds Festival Begins This Weekend

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 05, 2006

The Other Minds Festival of New Music, now in its 12th year, presents concerts featuring the work of composers and improvisors from Norway, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, France—and Emeryville— this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with composer panel discussions at 7 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m. (panel at 1 p.m.) in Kanbar Hall at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St. Tickets are $30 ($20 students) with three show packages at $72, through, (415) 292-1233, or at the SFJCC box office. 

“We have no theme, but try to bring older and younger composers together, those with 50 years composing experience with others just starting their careers,” said Other Minds founder and artistic director Charles Amirkhanian. “We have a four-day retreat at the Djerassi Ranch, which creates an internal mentoring situation. That chemistry’s irreplaceable.” 

This year, the “elder statesmen,” Amirkhanian said, include “the leading composers of their respective countries,” Peter Sculthorpe of Australia (whose “Saibai” for violin and piano will be played Fri. and “String Quartet #16 for Strings, with didjeridu,” Stephen Kent on didjeridu, will premiere Sun.) and Per Norgard of Norway (”Harvest-Timeless,” a string quartet, plays Fri. and “Wie ein Kind” for mixed chorus a capella on Sat.). 

Younger Norwegian composer Maja Radtke’s “Gagaku Variations” for accordion and string quartet plays Friday; on Saturday she performs with fellow Norwegians POING. “She’s a phenomenal performer,” Amirkhanian noted, “doing gymnastics with her voice, producing electronic sounds off her laptop to saxophone, accordion, bass ... yet composes string quartets as well. This is the type of new development we’re seeing in the younger composers.”  

Emeryville’s Daniel David Feinsmith’s Other Minds-commissioned “Elohim” will premier Friday. 

Canadian composer Ronald Bruce Smith’s “String Quartet #2, ‘Nostalgia,’” with material from Ravel and Bill Evans, will be played Sunday by Del Sol Quartet, “the house band,” to whom the piece is dedicated. At intermission Sunday, outside Kanbar Hall, VCS Radio, new music ensemble from Vacaville Christian School, under Ralph Martin’s direction, premieres their “Electrical Resonance Symphony,” to the memory of Nicolai Tesla, plated on conventional instruments, Theremin and Tesla Coil. 

Markus Stockhausen, son of renowned composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, performs “Compositions, improvisations and intuitive music” with Tara Bouman on Sunday as well. The other improvisor on the bill, Joelle Leandre, well-known to free jazz fans as a virtuosic double bassist, will play Sat. with Gunda Gottschalk and Xia Fengxia. Among the eminent international musicians performing during the festival will be Swiss pianist Eva-Maria Zimmerman. 

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