Dreamweapons: A Musical Afterlife of Tony Conrad
July 13, 2019 8:00pm
Please join Ars Nova Workshop and the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania for Dreamweapons, a series of performances celebrating the multivalent influences of Tony Conrad. Conrad was a central figure in numerous experimental film, music, and performance communities from the early 1960s until his death in 2016. These events are presented in conjunction with ICA’s presentation of Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective, the first large-scale museum survey devoted entirely to the artist.
Visual artist, composer, and performer Charlemagne Palestine has been an icon of American experimental music since the 1960s—in part due to his ritualistic physical performances, his silk scarves, and his more than 18,000 stuffed animals.
As a teenaged card-carrying member of the New York counterculture, Palestine played conga and bongos for Allen Ginsburg, Kenneth Anger, and Tiny Tim. However, his early focus was carillon bells. During his tenure as a carillonneur at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Palestine met Conrad, when his improvisations on the bells caught Conrad’s ear. Soon Palestine was studying voice with Pandit Pran Nath and collaborating with Conrad, as well as a wide circle of artists, including Rhys Chatham, Terry Jennings, and Simone Forti.
Conrad and Palestine will be forever linked as two of the more independently-minded and humorous pioneers of minimalism, even as Palestine prefers to describe his approach as “maximalist” due to the intense nature of his compositions. Whether employing Bösendorfer piano, harpsichord, carillon bells, electronic drones, or organ, Palestine’s repetitive and physical approach to sound is intended to fully activate the voice of the instrument.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Palestine and Tony Conrad were frequent collaborators but did not formally team up for a release until three decades later. In 2005, the two mavericks performed together in Brussels on the same day that the Pompidou Center in Paris honored recently deceased French musique concrete composer Luc Ferrari. The resulting album, An Aural Symbiotic Mystery (Sub Rosa), remains true to its title.
21 & Over
St. Mary’s Church
Charlemagne Palestine – Schlingen-Blängen, Cathédrale de Nantes 3. Recorded live April 19, 2012. (YouTube)