Synthesizer Legend Morton Subotnick Revisits 1967 Classic Album, Silver Apples of the Moon

A Lecture-Demonstration, Followed By A Short Performance
Friday, April 8, 2011 at 6 p.m., 2011
Greenwich House Music School, NYC

For the last installment of North River Music’s 25th anniversary season, Greenwich House Music School (GHMS) is pleased to present an evening with pioneer of electronic music and multimedia performance, Morton Subotnick, on Friday, April 8. The synthesizer legend will retrace the development of his 1967 classic album, Silver Apples of the Moon, which the Library of Congress inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2009. The lecture-demonstration will serve as an appendix to Subotnick’s appearance at Lincoln Center’s Unsound Festival New York on April 7, during which the composer will revisit this landmark composition with visual accompaniment from Berlin-based video artist Lillevan. The GHMS talk will be followed by a short solo performance by Subotnick.

Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon was the first electronic work composed especially for an LP recording (commissioned by Nonesuch Records). It is also one of the first compositions entirely created for a modular analogue synthesizer, the Buchla Electronic Music Box (commissioned by Subotnick and Ramon Sender). In 2009, the Library of Congress selected Silver Apples of the Moon as one of the 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry, a collection now comprising 300 music, spoken word, and audio documentary recordings deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. “One of the unique features of Buchla’s instrument,” writes the Library of Congress, “was its use of the electronic sequencer, a device capable of creating repeating, rhythmic sequences of musical notes or timbres. Subotnick uses the sequencer extensively and effectively in the creation of many repeated figures in the recording, creating a canonical statement for this pioneering technology.”

With Silver Apples of the Moon, Subotnick created a new musical genre that anticipated today’s home stereo system – twentieth century chamber music that people could experience with headsets within their own four walls. He then proceeded to re-conceptualize his vision for the stage, turning to multimedia performance and reincorporating improvisation into the process. For the Lincoln Center performance, Subotnick will “deconstruct” Silver Apples, and A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur, his first and last electronic recordings, to spontaneously reconstruct them in a live performance, using the latest Buchla synthesizer and a laptop with Ableton Live software. At GHMC, the composer will explain the vision behind the work, how it was created, and how it can be performed nowadays.

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