Apr 22, 2011 - Claremont, Calif. -
On Sunday, May 8, the Harvey Mudd College American Gamelan, a microtonal musical group led by Professor of Music Bill Alves, will perform as part of the 2011 MicroFest “At the Edge” at 8 p.m. in Lyman Hall, Thatcher Music Building at Pomona College.
In its second decade, MicroFest is a concert series devoted to non-standard tunings. The event features six concerts over four months (March to June) in venues throughout Southern California. From Hindustani slide guitar at Occidental College to the Partch Ensemble at Redcat, concerts will explore approaches to music in contrast to the Western system of 12 equal intervals. Each concert will be previewed at noon on the preceding Thursday on KPFK, 90.7 FM.
Co-director of MicroFest and microtonal musician, Alves led the creation of the HMC American Gamelan, which includes HMC students.
Microtonal music explores the sound that lies “between the keys” of the standard tuning for piano and most other commonly used instruments. This unconventional music style uses intervals less than an equally spaced semitone and includes any tuning that differs from the western 12-tone equal temperament. Each unique division of the octave or pseudo-octave creates new interval relationships and thereby new sound possibilities.
The HMC gamelan is a uniquely tuned orchestra of metal gongs and keyed instruments from Java, Indonesia that plays contemporary compositions. This concert, titled "Gamelan +," combines this ensemble with retuned Western instruments, including a concerto for guitar and gamelan by Alves, another work for trombones and gamelan by Jonathon Grasse and Lou Harrison's Concerto for Piano and Javanese Gamelan. Harrison was a leading composer of the twentieth century who introduced the concept of new compositions for this ancient ensemble to America.
The concert will also include compositions for retuned keyboards by Alves and Australian composer Andrián Pertout performed by the well-known Los Angeles pianist Aron Kallay. Alves describes the experience of hearing these microtonal instruments as “finding a technicolor universe after seeing only grays."
“It creates a deep sense of wholeness, of connectedness, of a crystalline quality through its tones that is unavailable in the compromised pitches of the modern piano,” he said.
Learn more about MicroFest
Media Contact: Judy Augsburger