EMM 2011

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Kansas City Kansas Community College and Lewis University are pleased to announce the dates for the 2011 Electronic Music Midwest Festival. EMM will be held September 29-October 1, 2011 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Acclaimed saxophonist, Elizabeth Bunt has been chosen as guest artist for the 2011 EMM Festival.

Over 65 composers and artists have participated in EMM 2011.

2011 EMM Guest Artist: Elizabeth Bunt

Elizabeth Bunt
Elizabeth Bunt’s performances have been described as “captivating” and “blazing”. As a performer of new music, she has collaborated with composers such as Chris Biggs and Carl Schimmel and appeared at numerous festivals around the U.S., including Electronic Music Midwest (EMM), Kansas City; Spark Festival for Electronic Music and Art, Minneapolis, MN; Imagine II, Memphis, TN; Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS); and North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) regional and national conferences. Elizabeth has performed in Mexico, Germany, and across the United States.

Elizabeth Bunt produced and performed in the North American premiere of Linker Augentanz (Left-Eye Dance) for saxophones, percussion, and synthesizer by the twentieth-century pioneering composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Her interest in Stockhausen’s music inspired her doctoral thesis The Saxophone Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. The summer of 2010 she attended the Stockhausen Courses and Concerts in his hometown of Kürten, Germany, where she studied with his longtime collaborators; flutist Kathinka Pasveer, clarinetist Suzanne Stephens, and sound projectionist Bryan Wolf; and became an informal student of eminent American Stockhausen scholar Jerome Kohl.

Elizabeth Bunt earned her doctorate in saxophone performance with a minor in music theory from the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she studied with Drs. Kelland Thomas, Brian Sacawa, Timothy McAllister, Craig Walsh, and Pamela Decker. She holds a master’s degree in saxophone performance from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance and music education from the University of Northern Iowa. Elizabeth resides in Tucson, AZ, where she teaches saxophone and music theory. She is active as a visiting performer and lecturer. Visit her at her website elizabethbunt.com.


Eclectic electronics

by Lee Hartman

Electronic Music Midwest continued its tradition of excellence, in this, its eleventh annual festival hosted by Kansas City Kansas Community College. As one of the premiere electroacoustic conferences in the world, EMM is responsible for having performed over 500 works. That is quite the feat. This essential festival is remarkably approachable for anyone willing to take the first leap. If your impression of electronic music is a random collection of bleeps and blorps, the variety of music at EMM will astound you if you’re willing to delve into outwardly atypical aural spaces.

Concert 8 was the penultimate concert of the festival and I attended for one masochistic reason in particular: to hear a live performance of Stockhausen. We’ll get to that at the end of this article however, as it was the last piece on the concert. Chin Ting (Patrick) Chan’s Katachi II for violin and live processing opened the concert. Chan’s work employed lush use of canonic delays and violinist Sally Williams played the piece with conviction. While the flanger and ending would have greatly benefitted from more subtly of shape, the layers of luxuriant violin playing created a sonically rich tapestry. The brief section that required Williams to play with a rag on a secondary bow could have easily been cut without detriment to the entire work.

Andrew Martin Smith’s Echoes in the Darkness, used bat sounds as source materials for the brief etude. His piece was groove-oriented after a short introduction. The established groove seemed more copy-paste than composed, and the piece was over so quickly that it did not have time to fully explore the possibilities of a single sound source.

Continuing the darkness theme was Andrew Walters’ Moth to Flame for amplified flute and 2-channel tape. The term "tape," referring to a fixed audio recording, is still used though actual audio-tape has long been relegated to the dustbin museum. Flutist Rebecca Ashe was so captivating and strong in her performance of the equally great flute part that the electronics seemed superfluous. As a programmatic piece, the flute part conveyed all the narrative; the electronics did add a level of discordance unachievable by a single performer, but again, they were unnecessary to the “plot.”

Mike McFerron’s Shape Study: Music for “Metamorphoses” was part composition, part sound design and full parts amazing. Recalling the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s production of the Mary Zimmerman’s 2002 Drama Desk-multiple-award winner, only made the piece that much more effective. Form and spatialization seemed to be paramount to the work. Opening with a clap of thunder that eased into a gentle downpour accompanied by bongos and ululating voices, the piece morphed into particulate granulizations. The climax echoed back to the opening thunder clap in that it was a monstrous sound mass, rendered even more effective because McFerron eliminated an entire spectrum of frequencies before reintroducing them through a quick fade-in—the electroacoustic version of a deceptive cadence. Ending with a deliberately paced diminuendo, the piece faded out through one of the speakers in the rear of the hall—the storm had passed, metamorphosed itself and the listener, leaving a wake of sonic bliss and awe.

Robert Voisey’s suite of six movements, Constellations, was for fixed media and dancers. Each miniature—a genre in which Voisey excels as he is the creator of 60x60, a concert series devoted to music lasting sixty seconds—was vocally based. I caught spinets of raga and Middle Eastern influence with the embellishments. Though in six movements with an ever-so-slight pause in between each, the sounds remained similar throughout. At first I was nonplussed, but by the end was won over by the steadfastness and singularity of purpose and idea. The choreography was clever; white clad dancers used various light sources (hand-held light strands, single-bulb palm flashlights, and a Christmas light-wrapped dancer) to manipulate the darkness of the stage and hall according to each constellation’s implied persona.

Now. Karlheinz Stockhausen. His work EDENTIA was so… stereotypically… German. Think the Saturday Night Live skit “Sprockets.” This is Dieter’s music und er liebt es! Stockhausen is a force of musical oddities. The cult surrounding his personality is equality gregarious, outspoken, and esoteric. So how was EDENTIA? If there ever was a piece that is difficult to critique it would be this one. As much of Stockhausen’s oeuvre is opaquely linked through spider webs of interconnectivity, I feel many of the references and being able to place the piece “correctly” was lost on me. It was unlike anything I’ve ever heard in live performance. The typically ebulient saxophonist Elizabeth Bunt took on the role of what I can only imagine to be MÜRRISCHEN MÄDCHEN [dour girl]. Part theatre, part dance, part playing, Bunt displayed considerable talent and memorization throughout the elided twenty-five movements. Whether playing three notes and creating a triangle with her soprano saxophone to highlight that she was in fact playing “EDENTIA Dreiecke” to deftly fingered microtonal scales in “SERAPHIM” to astounding double-tongue work in “Die himmlischen Musiker morsen morsen morsen” [The celestial musicians Morse Morse Morse], she never once dropped character or lost focus. The tape part, rendered in stereo from the eight channel original for this performance, was a series of 24 repeating layers. Though the tape part was serialized through the layers, accelerandi, ritardandi, and glissandi added to the swirling breadth of the piece. Now I can say I heard Stockhausen performed live and it was…