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The final week of this Churchill trip was in some ways the most difficult. Many proposed meetings fell away, confirmations being withdrawn or changed to dates that were simply impossible (ie after i had returned to Australia). I got a bad cold in the first few days which very much slowed me down. Whilst i managed to save around 3 of the 6 meetings, it was a disappointing way to end the trip, especially after the very rewarding experience in France where meetings seem to grow out of each other. So i decided to make the most of being in New York by seeing as many shows as possible, over a range of arts and presentations, and compare the work being done in Australia to that in New York.
Perhaps the most timely one of these was the Spring For Music festival of orchestral music in New York in its fourth and final year, and providing the New York premiere of John Luther Adams work, Ocean, that had recently been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music, at Carnegie Hall, performed by the comissioning body, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. This was a real treat to see, though i thought the other parts of the program were not as rewarding. The house was completely sold out, and i the composer was present to enjoy the accolades the award brought him. You can stream the concert here.
I also went to a concert at John Zorn's club The Stone, where Kim Gordon and Okkyung Lee performed together. This was an interesting performance - i also tried to see Ikue Mori but that was sold out (The Stone only holds 70). Luckily I managed to see her anway and catch up since the last time we met in Perth several years ago. I learnt my lesson and came early to ensure a seat for teh Gordon/Lee performance, and as expected it sold out early. I'd just read Gordon's book Is It My Body so it was interesting seeing her do solo work in this context. This was in a great area of new York that i enjoyed investigating.
At The Kitchen (where i played with Lux Mammoth over 15 years ago) I was lucky to see Cecilia Benolea and Fracois Chaignaud's French Alternative Natives company perform Say Yes to Another Excess - Twerk at the Kitchen. The music for this dance performance was by two Bristol (UK) Butterz Grime DJs, and the combination created a exciting, relevant and innovative show.
I chose to visit MOMA which had an exhibition on John Cage in addition to its regular shows. I have seen so many visual art dedications to this composer now, i wonder why other atists dont get as much focus - this was well planned and included lots of interesting work by his collaborators in addition to his own.
At the Guggenheim there was an exbhibition dedicated to the Italian Futurists, as well as Carrie Mae Weems. These were very well presented, an odd combination in one gallery, but very rewarding and comprehensive. I think the Futurists merit comprehensive exhibitions like these - they seem misunderstand as a result of their relationship with Fascism.
I manged to even see some more grungy rock stuff, with Australians living in New York band DeGreaser performing at the legendary Williamsburg space Death By Audio, and the Ende Tymes noise festival in Brooklyn.
There was an exhibition of drum machines at the Red Bull Music Academy - beat:repeat - this was a great historic overview of the drum machine as stand alone instrument, before software. Great to see all together, and impressive as they all belong to one collector, Joe Mansfeild.
The highlight of visits was to the legendary Dream House installation, a permanent sound and light installation by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela in an apartment above the artists own. After having read about his piece, it was great to experience it for the first time.
Meetings with Marina Rosenfeld and Pogus label head Al Margolis - who put out Decibel's Alvin Lucier album - were very rewarding and will definately assist moving forward projects with these people. Sadly, the meeting with Notations 21 author Theresa Suaer didnt eventuate, and the commission work with Alvin Lucier will have to occur via email. The meeting with Margaret Schedel fell victim to my cold...
I enjoyed New York, and staying in Willimabsurg provided me with a perspective of the new directions that city is taking. But i was somewhat overwhelmed with the feeling its heyday is over, and that actually, there is music more exciting elsewhere, venues more flexible and avaiable and people more committed and open. It also gave me the opportunity to ruminate on how what happens in Australia is largely invisible internationally, especially in smaller cities. Partially, this is a cultural problem - Australia's own cultural cringe as opposed to the USA's ability to push its product out. This was highlighted returning to Australia for the Abbott goverment's Budget week, the results of which will be exasperating this issue further.