This past Thursday I attended the latest installment of the Full Moon Concert series: the “Long Night’s Moon”, in anticipation of the winter solstice.
Both sets played off the theme of the perception of time, perhaps an allusion to the passage of time as one moves through the longest night of the year. However, time is represented and perceived quite differently in each.
The second set was a public performance of the 2009 60×60 compilation, featuring 60 one-minute pieces by 60 different composers in a variety of styles. The performance was very precisely timed, beginning at exactly 9PM with each success piece starting on the next minute until 10PM. A clock projected onto the wall showed the exact time, so one could watch the individual seconds tick while listening to the music. However, within this very precise presentation of time, the perception of time remained fluid. Some pieces seemed significantly longer than others, and the seconds appeared to pass more quickly or slowly. For example, one piece with a lounge/jazz feel seemed to pass more slowly, while several more experimental pieces based purely on timbral evolution seemed to go by much faster. I think it was the quick succession of phrases that made it seem longer, as if the piece was a more standard three-minute duration. Some others, such as #53 and #54 by Andrew Willingham and David Morneau, respectively, went by quite fast.
Indeed, with such short pieces, the transitions between them became significant elements. I particularly liked the transitions between pieces 12, 13 and 14, by Danny Clay, Alvin Curan and Christophe Petchanatz, respectively. Similarly, the transitions between #46 (John Maycraft) and #47 (Les Scott) was very fluid and seamless. Other notable pieces included the toy piano performance in #16 by Jane Wang (I instantly recognized the Jaymar toy piano( and the “meditation” in steel and metallic sounds in #27 by Diana Simpson. I of course instantly recognized the spoetry in Polly Moller’s Abdominal Cyclist Ultra (#36) from my work with Reconnaissance Fly. The frenetic beats in #56 (Arran Krister Kohnson), interleaving of speeches by Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. in #58 (Ben Boone) and the final “Daddy, what are you doing?” in #60 (Richard Hall) brought the set to an energetic close.
In the preceding set, John Hanes presented a very different perception of time. His piece for the Long Night’s Moon was “an attempt to celebrate the promise of light internet in the darkest night and the rhythm of the turning of the year.” Unlike the 60×60 performance, which made one hyper-aware of the passing of individual seconds, Hanes’ performance invited listeners to “suspend” their perception of time and meditate on the graduation changes in sounds. It began with bells and metallic sounds, which were eventually joined by strong (and synthetic) resonances. A few tones reminded me of prayer bowls. The long tones of the metallic and synthetic sounds formed gradually changing chords and harmonies that suggested a vocal or choral arrangement. Occasionally the rather complex harmonies would suddenly drop out, leaving a unison of different timbres on the same pitch. There were some complex minor harmonies in between the unions, and some points where the harmonies seem to draw to a traditional cadence. All along were ebbs and flowers and timbre and dynamics, with some strong crescendos towards the conclusion of the piece.
This is actually not the first time we have encountered John Hanes at a Full Moon Concert. He also appearned in Myles Boisen’s Past-Present-Future at the Blood Moon Concert in October.