KEN UENO: My work will metaphorically connect to color theory in blending different temperaments. It is the scientific reduction of sounds to a common denominator (thinking in terms of frequencies rather than scales) that helps me with this approach, which I consider a Newtonian way of rationalizing the ineffable.
STRATIS MINAKAKIS: My work, “Shadow Etchings,” will explore the musical dimensions of the dichotomy between what Goethe describes as “uncolored” versus “colored” shadows. What does it mean to construct such shadows of a sound?
STEVEN MACKEY: In this new work I imagine a dialogue between colorful, static timbral objects and syntactical, forward moving narrative elements. I will engage the idea that white light is made up of all the colors of the rainbow in a musical metaphor creating dense, heterogeneous textures that delineate a bright, joyous state of being – a glorious cacophony.
Color Theory is inspired by the spirit in which scientists and visual artists have studied color throughout the centuries. In 1671–72, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the origin of color by shining a beam of light through a prism, splitting it into the colors of a rainbow. Visual artists have used color theory to develop a body of practical knowledge about mixing pigments to create color combinations that provoke powerful emotional responses.
Our project uses color theory as a framework to examine the spectra that makes up instrumental sound. PRISM will commission, present, and record a new body of music combining saxophones and percussion, including reconstructed Harry Partch instruments, originally built by the American composer/inventor from 1930–1972. Partch’s “Instrumentariam” is full of fantastical, visually striking creations such as the eucal blossom, spoils of war, and cloud chamber bowls. Color Theory will pioneer new possibilities of orchestration, sound, and musical color with first-time instrumental pairings that represent enormous and unexplored potential.
- PRISM and So Percussion premiere a new octet by Steven Mackey and a new arrangement of Donnacha Dennehy’s “The Pale” on 6/4/16 at the Kimmel Center* (Philadelphia) and 6/7/16 at Roulette (Brooklyn)
- PRISM and the Grammy-winning Partch ensemble, in their east coast debut, premiere new dectets by Ken Ueno and Stratis Minankakis on 6/11/16 at Kimmel* and 6/12/16 at Roulette
*Kimmel Center is co-presenter; Radio broadcasts by media partner WWFM
The project includes 12 ancillary programs to increase impact by contextualizing commissions, educating and building audiences:
- 2 Pre-concert panel discussions at Kimmel examining color theory across disciplines with WNYC’s John Schaefer and Ingrid Schaffner, Chief Curator, Institute for Contemporary Art (UPenn)
- 1 Harry Partch Lecture and 1 Instrument Making Workshop at NextFab Studio with Charles Corey, Director, Harry Partch Institute (UWashington)
- 1 Composers Forum at the Curtis Institute, moderated by David Ludwig
- 6 Composition-for-Kids classes and 1 Family Drumming Workshop with PRISM and So Percussion at the Kimmel Center
The project culminates in the production of a commercial recording of commissioned works for release on XAS Records (PRISM’s label), distributed worldwide by Naxos, with liner notes by Schaefer, and photos/design by Flux Design (fluxlabs.com). Two 2-day recording sessions will be produced by PRISM after each set of concerts.