60s AVANT GARDE by Charles Shere
The Third Annual Festival of the Avant Garde took place at 321 Divisadero St., San Francisco, in April 1965, sponsored by KPFA and run by myself, Peter Winkler and Robert Moran. Looking back on it I don't know how we had the guts: later endeavors have since convinced me of the enormity of such an undertaking. But we did, and it worked for the most part.
It was a sort of celebration of having the hall at all: KPFA and Ann Halprin joined the Tape Music Center in renting it. (Ann is still there.) We put on three concerts in the Festival, which was of course the first Third Annual. (There was a second one the following year, of which the less said the better.)
The opening concert gave Earle Brown's Four Systems in a realization by Moran (piano), Georges Rey (violin) and Gwen Watson (cello).
Moran's Interiors followed with the whole 3rd Annual ensemble of 8 or 10 musicians.
Then came Peter Winkler's But A Rose, a song for counter-tenor and piano 4 hands to a text by Grandma Kroeger, a celebrated convicted murderess of the day whose doggerel was printed in the newspapers. John Thomas sang, with Peter at the keyboard and his wife Judy working the piano insides.
Then Joshua Rifkin's Winter Piece, the same ensemble as the Brown;
John Cage's Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs with Thomas and Winkler;
Ian Underwood's The God Box for solo horn (the redoubtable Nelson Green, who sparked a horn renaissance in those days,
and Douglas Leedy's Octet: Quaderno Rossiano, the first quote-piece collage I ever heard and still the best, a mobile of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, bassoon, piano, horn and bass drum parts from Rossini, all in their original keys and tempos, hung together in a funny but somehow moving ensemble.
That was on Friday night, April 2, and the hall was just about full--say 150 people.
We had decided on a Soft Concert for Saturday night, because quiet music seemed like a good idea. A big Ernst Bloch memorial had been scheduled for that night in Marin county, and we knew a lot of our audience would be playing in it, so we scheduled the Soft Concert late, starting at 11 p.m. to give people a chance to get to 321 Divisadero.
The concert was a beauty, including Roman Haubenstock-Ramati's Decisions I for piano and tape (Moran),
three piano pieces of Cage's
followed by Sylvano Bussotti's Piano Piece for David Tudor 3,
LaMonte Young's 42 for Henry Flynt played on a quiet, meditative gong by Peter Winkler,
Shinichi Matsushita's Hexahedra (I forget the personnel),
Morton Feldman's Durations for piano, violin and cello and for piano, violin and tuba,
and two small pieces of my own [Charles Shere] for two cellos.
A lot of interesting things about this concert: Jim Basye had never played solo tuba before, it was his 16th birthday and the performance was gorgeous. Matsushita had never been heard in S.F. before. 42 for Henry Flynt almost brought me and Bob Hughes to blows, in a disagreement which was finally healed later when he heard the piece again, improvised at Esalen--an interesting story I'll run one of these EARS. The house, by the way, was full.
the final concert was Sunday, April 4, at a more civilized hour. (We turned people away from this one.)
Matsushita's piece was repeated, with different instrumentation;
my own [Charles Shere] Accompanied Vocal Exercises were tolerated--whether a terrible piece or a terrible performance I'm still not sure--
Moran played Galen Schwab's Homage to Anestis Logothetis when he discovered the music to the Logothetis he's programmed, (?jh)
and followed that with his own Invention, Book I;
then we joined forces on Logothetis' Centres
and Cage's Variations II.
Where Are They Now: Moran is in Berlin; Winkler teaching at Stony Brook in New York; Ian was (last I heard) one of the Mothers of Invention; Nelson is in Hamburg playing opera (a future EAR will be devoted to the Nelson Green-Douglas Leedy joint discovery of the French horn); Georges Rey is here at the moment, now a philosophy prof (I guess); the others I've lost track of.
I still have the tapes of the concerts, which KPFA broadcast. Probably they have them too: they ought to rebroadcast them--too bad they missed the tenth anniversary. p. 7
typed by Barb Nov 94