Monday, September 10, 2012


It was a big week for experimental music in Los Angeles.

Jacaranda presented their contribution to the centennial bonanza of Cage performances (LA Times has an awesome "guided tour" of Los Angeles à la John Cage). Other LA groups have already weighed in on Cage, including Southwest Chamber Music, Calarts, and Human Resources, while Monday Evening Concerts will do their Cage-y show in November. I was sad to have missed Jacaranda's shows, but you can already read Mark Swed's review of the Thursday concert.

Trio Kobayashi performing Jürg Frey's Circular Music
photo by Casey Anderson's
On the other side of town, instead of dwelling on the past century, Michael Pisaro's Dogstar Orchestra was busy continuing the living experimental music tradition. Most of the concerts in the approximately 2-week series happened at the wulf, though some occurred by the LA River, in Mount Washington, or in Highland park. Concerts in past years have happened at Calarts, Vasquez Rocks, Val Verde, Lincoln Heights, etc. This year there is even a portion happening simultaenously in Mexico City.

Dogstar Orchestra happens annually, sometime in the summer, with this being the eighth year. It's often a Wandelweiser-centric affair, but in recent years Pisaro has extended curation duties of the burgeoning festival to the composers/musicians that have been consistent parts of the deeply experimental series. All of the pieces performed this year were composed either by members of the group or by a living composer. I think Cage would have approved.

Unfortunately, I missed most of Dogstar this year, as I was visiting my family in Alaska. But, I did catch Trio Kobayashi playing Jürg Frey's Circular Music on Saturday night at the wulf. The brass trio (Matt Barbier on trombone, Luke Storm on tuba, Zara Teicher on french horn) did a stately performance of the chorale-like piece, which was at times canonic, game-like, parallel, and/or spacious. You can hear and see another Trio Kobayashi performance of Jürg Frey's music on Alan Nakagawa's Ear Meal Podcast.

I had always assumed the Dogstar series was named after Stan Brakhage's Dogstar Man, though I'm sure it was more directly related to the Sirius mythocracy. And speaking of mythocracy, here's John Cage and Sun Ra, together at long last:

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