Thomas Buckner (baritone) sings Robert Ashley's »The Mystery of the River« (1991-2014) and »When Famous Last Words Fail You« (1997), followed by a screening of the rarely seen Ashley video Atalanta Strategy (1984, 28 mins).
Sep 5 | Doors 20:00 | Concert 20:30
Karl-Marx-Straße 28, Berlin
This concert doubles as a celebration for the new double-LP album »Spontaneous Musical Invention« of Thomas Buckner singing Robert Ashley, published by Recital. The title of the album refers to Ashley’s method of instructing the singer to do what he called »spontaneous musical invention based on the declamation of the text,« a vocal practice that Thomas Buckner perfected over the 33 years that he collaborated with Ashley.
In the 1960s, Robert Ashley pioneered the American avant-garde with the ONCE Group and festivals, before irrefutably changing the face of American opera later in the 20th century. Buckner, in addition to running the fabulous 1750 Arch record label in the 1970s and 80s, is a noted baritone who has collaborated for decades with the likes of Roscoe Mitchell, Annea Lockwood, and the late Noah Creshevsky, amongst countless others. First performing in Ashley’s 1984 opera Atalanta (Acts of God), Buckner continued on as an integral performer in the ensemble until Ashley’s death in 2014.
»When Famous Last Words Fail You« was commissioned by the American Composers’ Orchestra in December 7, 1997. Robert Ashley often performed his pieces without accompaniment and gave his permission for me to do so in this instance. The piece takes place in the future, and is the Nobel prize acceptance speech of the man who invented the immortality salve, which turned out to be not so good an idea.
»The Mystery of the River« is one of the »Family Stories« from the »Willard« section of Atalanta (Acts of God). It explores the opera’s themes of collective memory, architecture, genealogy. »The Mystery of the River« was completed in this version for solo voice and electronics when the Angelica Festival (Bologna) asked for a new work in 2014.
The video Atalanta Strategy (1984) was created by Robert Ashley and Lawrence Brickman as a multi-projector program for stage and broadcast media, Atalanta Strategy is based on the anecdote material of the second episode (»Willard«) of the opera, Atalanta (Acts of God). There are three kinds of scenes surrounding the main anecdote, Willard's story, which is sung by Robert Ashley.
These surrounding scenes are:
1) »The Flying Saucer«, in which the captain and the lieutenant of an alien space ship discuss the strange habits of human beings;
2) »The Mule in the Tree« and »The Mystery of The River«, stories about the mountain people of Tennessee, where Willard comes from; and
3) an interview with Robert Ashley during which he relates that the text of Atalanta (Acts of God) dates from the 1940s and that the true author is unknown.
- Karl-Marx Straße, 28
- 12043, Berlin, Neukölln
- Di., 05.09.2023, 20:30 - 22:00
- Doors 20:00 | Concert 20:30