"Alarm Will Sound" Brings 1969 to Denver's Newman Center, April 23


The year 1969 brought the moon landing, Nixon’s inauguration, Woodstock, the Stonewall riots, the first Gap and WalMart stores, and something called the ARPANET. Early that year, according to Stockhausen biographer Michael Kurtz, a meeting had been set up to plan a joint concert between Karlheinz Stockhausen and The Beatles. Though details are elusive, the meeting was supposed to take place at the apartment of composer/conductor Lukas Foss, but was evidently thwarted by a snowstorm. This tantalizing tale forms the nucleus of 1969, an evening-length multimedia program conceived by Alarm Will Sound Artistic Director and Conductor Alan Pierson and co-created by Pierson, writer Andrew Kupfer and director Nigel Maister. More than three years in the making, 1969 will be performed at the Elizabeth Eriksen Byron Theatre at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 23 (7:30 pm). The performance will be preceded by a "Behind the Curtain" lecture at 6:30 pm.

The turbulent period profiled in 1969 bears a great deal of resemblance to our own, as pop culture and the avant-garde collided against a backdrop of raw political unrest. Rebelling against the stylistic purism of serialism and other sanctioned styles, composers like Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Berio, and even Stockhausen (in Hymnen) reflected the era’s social fragmentation in works with a strong element of collage. Though samplers have replaced tape loops, the once-revolutionary impulse to incorporate disparate styles in a single piece has since become commonplace. Many critics decried the “intrusion” of pop music and the patchwork formal design of these scores, but they eventually paved the way for the heterodox outlook of the current generation – including Alarm Will Sound.


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