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Conversations (after Elias Canetti)
variable (2-4 players), drawn from instruments included in the composer's Canetti character studies: piccolo, bass flute, ocarina, basset horn, alto saxophone, bass saxophone, contrabassoon, trumpet, percussion, glass harmonica, organ, piano, cimbalom, guitar, violin, violoncello, contrabass.
The "score" consists of performance instructions; source material for improvisation may be found in the Character Studies after Elias Canetti.
Josh Ballinger (contrabassoon), Laurel Black (percussion), Redi Llupa (piano), Sam Suggs (contrabass)
video recording (YouTube)
Josh Ballinger (contrabassoon), Laurel Black (percussion), Redi Llupa (piano), Sam Suggs (contrabass); Live performance recorded 23 October 2018, James Madison University.
Conversations (after Elias Canetti) is a semi-improvisational open-form work for two to four performers, based on the composer's collection of solo works after character studies in Elias Canetti's 1974 book Der Ohrenzeuge (Earwitness). In Conversations, the performers improvise in various combinations, developing musical fragments from these solo studies, which are used as raw material for musical conversations — not unlike the interaction of distinct characters at a social gathering. Whereas the solo works in this collection explore the psychological qualities of the characters portrayed in Canetti's Der Ohrenzeuge, Conversations is more of a sociological study of these characters' interactions — very much in the spirit of another one of Canetti's writings, Masse und Macht (Crowds and Power), an idiosyncratic yet penetrating study of group dynamics and power structures within various societal constructs.
Conversations was composed in March 2018 and first performed on 23 October 2018 at the James Madison University Contemporary Music Festival.