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Other Minds music fest pushes aural limits 

Wednesday, Mar 5 2008

In its mission statement, the San Francisco–based Other Minds organization proclaims its commitment "to the encouragement and propagation of contemporary music in all its forms." This is a bold assertion in a city that prides itself on inclusiveness and wide-roving creativity. With its cornerstone concert showcase, Other Minds once again lives up to its name.

The 13th Other Minds Music Festival brings together an international group of composers and performers whose work pushes the boundaries of aural invention without regard to genre, style, or instrumental limitations. Thus it follows that artists whose reps have largely been set on specific outposts of the musical map — e.g., trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith (avant-garde jazz), pioneering programmer Morton Subotnick (electronics), and cellist Frances-Marie Uitti (postmodern classical) — aim to obliterate such prefab distinctions at their Other Minds gigs. To this end, Smith has enlisted the virtuosic Del Sol String Quartet to flesh out his spiritual meditation, "Taif: Prayer in the Garden of the Hijaz"; Subotnick will pair his chilly computer-generated soundscapes with the blood-rich playing of Kathleen Supové on "The Other Piano"; and Uitti will perform "Rap't," a solo composition that calls for simultaneously applying two bows to the cello and plunging the tonal variations into an interactive electro-acoustic sea. On the populist front, Dan Becker's "Revolution" combines the rarefied sound of the disklavier (modern heir to the player piano) with samples of Martin Luther King Jr., while Ake Parmerud's industrial jam, "La Vie Mécanique," could be a hit at progressive dancehalls. Other Minds: The name says it all.

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Sam Prestianni


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