For Julian

program notes

A twentieth century prophet is dead. Julian Beck brought Utopia with him wherever he went and will no doubt continue to do so. Last year I asked him to record 5 monosyllabic words, which I intended to use in my radio-concert series MARITIME RITES commissioned by the National Public Radio; he generously recorded 15 words. Here, against the fixed cycles of fog horns from Maine and Rhode Island which intone the notes B flat, B, C, and C sharp, I structure Julian’s words in the following cycles:

BOOK every 15 seconds
TRAIN every 17 seconds
HOUSE every 21 seconds
ROSE every 22 seconds
FACE every 23 seconds

In addition, two five word phrases “THIS – FAIR – SPOT – IS – PARK” and “BURN – BLAST – BUT – NO – PEACE” are heard every 70 and 75 seconds respectively. Two thirds of the way into the piece I introduce a chorus of my own voice singing long tones derived from my singing in unison with the sounds of the Brooklyn Bridge. An accidental appearance of Steve Lacy’s saxophone is heard near the end of this 16 minute piece.

Alvin Curran, Cologne, 24.9.85

A larger, more elaborate version (31') was first performed at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne in 1988 by Curran (shofar), Steve Lacy (saxophone), Judith Malina (voice), and the Cäcilien-Chor directed by Manfred Niehaus, and won the WDR Ars Acustica International Prize.

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