JOHN CAGE TRIBUTE: Steve Antosca

Steve Antosca on John Cage: In 1982, I composed the work for two for any two instruments. At that time, I did not fully comprehend the influence John Cage’s work had on my thinking about composition.

One becomes TWO, 2007 (score) for two, 1982 (score and recording) Traces of Spirit Whispers - 1. circulation of the light, 2003 (score) Traces of Spirit Whispers - vii. empty infinity, boundless country, 2003 (score) Traces of Spirit Whispers - vii. empty infinity, boundless country (recording)

Biography

Steve Antosca is Co-director of the The John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC, taking place September 4 - 12 at the National Gallery of Art, La Maison Française/Embassy of France, the Phillips Collection, American University, the Kreeger Museum, the Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art, the University of California, Washington Center, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, and the Library of Congress. johncage2012.com

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In 1982, I composed the work for two for any two instruments. At that time, I did not fully comprehend the influence John Cage’s work had on my thinking about composition.

"for two" emerged out of interest in what a composer might create when faced with the issues of ambiguity of instrumentation, pitch and timbre, and using instruments of availability to allow for numerous performance permutations. Performers supply the appropriate clefs for their instrument and may use several clefs during the performance of the piece. In many instances, actual pitches are not supplied, only suggested by arrows up and down and by the shape of the line of successive arrows, aided by the use of accidentals. These techniques assure that the results of each performance will vary as to the timbres of the pair of instruments, the actual pitches and the counterpoint between the instruments. No matter what the instrumentation, the contour of the musical line remains consistent in every performance, gesture and rhythm become the prominent elements in the composition. Over many performances, the impression of the piece is consistent, while the specific sonic texture varies. Variations and additions have been presented: an improvisation section adds to the spontaneity of the composition and enhances the overall feeling of free play in the composition, and a willingness to allow performers some control in the determination of the final performance. Interactive brain wave control has been applied, as well as real-time signal processing, including the technique of immersion processing to transparently shift timbre and texture of instrumental sounds into a realm of transfigured sound, where the instrumental sound is almost left behind. In this environment, when pushed to the extreme, there is almost a complete absence of a focused sense of pitch and rhythm, yet they are used as the generators of sound.

Thirty years later, for the September 2012, John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC, I have composed a solo piano work as a Tribute piece. One becomes Two, 2007 (score) for two, 1982 (score) for two, 1982 (recording) Traces of Spirit Whispers - 1. circulation of the light, 2003 (score) Traces of Spirit Whispers - vii. empty infinity, boundless country, 2003 (score) Traces of Spirit Whispers - vii. empty infinity, boundless country (recording)

Biography


Composer Steve Antosca is Artistic Director of the National Gallery of Art new music ensemble and VERGE ensemble, in residence at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. He is co-director of the 2012 John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC.


Antosca’s music integrates instruments with computers for real-time and pre-recorded audio processing and spatialization. Among his commissions are a McKim from the Library of Congress, a Fromm from Harvard, American Composers Forum, the Kennedy Center, Johansen International, and support from the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund. Antosca was named winner of the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2011 awarded by the National Academy of Music. He has received awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, Randy Hostetler LivingRoom Music Fund, DC Commission on the Arts, Meet the Composer and the NEA. His composition One becomes Two was a winner in the "Electroacoustic Music with Instruments" category of the 36th Bourges International Competitions. A graphic page from the score was published in Notations 21.


His music has been performed throughout the US, Europe and China. In 2011 Antosca presented the National Gallery of Art West Building 70th Anniversary concert in the Rotunda, described by the Washington Post as “a spectacular, wonderfully provocative” concert, with the Rotunda transformed into “an immense temple of sound.” For the 35th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art East Building in 2013, Antosca will create the concert-length HABITAT for solo percussion, video and computer transformations to be premiered in the I. M. Pei Atrium.


Pursuing an interest in events that connect music with technology, architecture and the arts, Antosca lectures at universities and cultural institutions, including the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn, the University of Maryland and Peabody Institute, and the Third Practice and Livewire Festivals. Antosca has a Master’s degree in Computer Music Composition from Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University. steveantosca.com

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