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John McCowen: Solo Contra

Feb 8, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm


Saturday, February 8th, John McCowen presents an evening of compositions for solo contrabass clarinet for his inaugural performance as a 2020 ISSUE Artist-In-Residence. These works present the concept of the contrabass clarinet as an acoustic synthesizer. By sustaining multiple sounds simultaneously, the clarinet becomes a harmonic tube where sounds interact and create beating harmonics. Through the use of internal microphones, small sounds become more audible, and bass more physical; allowing for a more visceral listening experience. The evening includes premieres of new compositions.

Taking cues from electronically-generative musics, spectral music, the ebbing and idling of automotive engines, and years of close study and collaboration with Roscoe Mitchell, McCowen deals with the interactions, fluctuations, and spectral shifts of pitch relationships. This language is commonly executed through circular-breathing as a means to create density and development. However, through solo performance, McCowen attempts to buck the stigma of circular-breathing solo performance as a physical struggle, but rather an embodied focus through the transformation of anxiety.

John McCowen is a Brooklyn-based composer and performer originally from Southern Illinois. His work focuses on extending the possibilities of the clarinet & contrabass clarinet. John embraces long-form drones, difference tones, and beating harmonics as a means to extrude the dimensions within – treating the clarinet as an acoustic synthesizer. His discography includes releases on Edition Wandelweiser, International Anthem, Astral Spirits, NNA Tapes, Cairn Desk, and others. Performances include Le Guess Who Festival (Utrecht), Norður og Niður Festival (Reykjavik), Hot Air Music Festival (SF), Bowling Green New Music Festival, Supersonic Festival (Birmingham), Berkeley Art Museum (BAMPFA), The Stone, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Constellation (Chicago). John was a 2017 & 2019 artist-in-residence at Lijiang Studio in Yunnan, China. He received the Elizabeth Mills Crothers Award for excellence in music composition in 2016 from Mills College where he also received an MA in Music Composition under the mentorship of Roscoe Mitchell.


Feb 8, 2020
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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Issue Project Room


ISSUE Project Room
22 Boerum Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
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