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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
North American Works Directory Listing
Chaos
Gordon Michael
Over the past 25 years, Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles to major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Transcending categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness.

Deeply passionate about the sonic potential of the traditional orchestra, Gordon's orchestral works include Rewriting Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, a radical reworking of the original, commissioned by the 2006 Beethoven Festival in Bonn and premiered by Jonathon Nott and the Bamberger Symphony; and Sunshine of your Love, written for over 100 instruments divided into four microtonally tuned groups. Under the baton of composer/conductor John Adams, The Ensemble Modern Orchestra toured Sunshine of your Love to seven European capitals in 1999. Gordon's string orchestra piece Weather was commissioned by the Siemens Foundation Kultur Program, and after its tour was recorded and released on Nonesuch to great critical and popular success. His interest in exploring various sound textures has led him to create chamber works that distort traditional classical instruments with electronic effects and guitar pedals, including Potassium for the Kronos Quartet and Industry for cellist Maya Beiser. Also for Kronos, The Sad Park, written in 2006, uses the voices of child witnesses to September 11th as its subject. Gordon's monumental, 52-minute Trance, originally written for the UK-based group Icebreaker, was debuted in 1997 and recently performed twice in New York City by the ensemble Signal.

Michael Gordon's special interest in adding dimensionality to the traditional concert experience has led to numerous collaborations with artists in other media, most frequently with filmmaker Bill Morrison and Ridge Theater. In Decasia, a commission from Europaischer Musikmonat for the Basel Sinfonietta, the audience is encircled by the orchestra and large projections. A large-scale, single-movement, relentlessly monumental work about decay — the decay of melody, tuning, and classical music itself — Decasia has become a cult favorite since its premiere in 2001, frequently performed at music festivals, art museums and film festivals around the world. Gordon and Morrison's works together also include two film symphonies centered on cities: Dystopia (about Los Angeles) in 2008 for David Robertson and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Gotham (about New York City) in 2004 for the American Composers Orchestra.

Works for theater and opera include What To Wear, a collaboration with director Richard Foreman, which premiered at the REDCAT Theater in Los Angeles; Acquanetta, about the 1940s B-Movie starlet for Oper Aachen; Lost Objects, an oratorio for baroque orchestra in collaboration with David Lang, Julia Wolfe and director Francois Girard, which was seen at the 2004 Next Wave Festival at BAM; and Van Gogh, vocal settings from the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, recorded by Alarm Will Sound. Most recently, Gordon again collaborated with Ridge Theater on the multi-performer song cycle lightning at our feet, co-commissioned by Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston and the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 2008 Next Wave Festival. lightning at our feet straddles arts media, giving Dickinson's poetry mobility in music while encompassing her words in a world of visual imagery.

Gordon's music has been featured prominently in the dance works of Emio Greco | PC, Wayne McGregor (for Stuttgart Ballet, Random Dance), Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal, Heinz Spoerli (for Zürich Ballet), Ashley Page (for The Royal Ballet and The Scottish Ballet) and Club Guy & Roni, who co-commissioned Gordon's percussion sextet Timber, along with the percussion ensembles Slagwerk Den Haag and Mantra Percussion. This work, an evening-length tour de force for six 2x4s, toured with dance throughout 2009/2010 and was premiered in its concert-version in June 2011. The full percussion sextet will be released in August 2011 on Cantaloupe Records.

Gordon has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Settembre Musica, the Holland Music Festival, the Dresden Festival and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival, among others. His music has been performed at the Kennedy Center, Theatre De La Ville, Barbican Centre, Oper Bonn, Kölner Philharmonie and the Southbank Centre. The recipient of multiple awards and grants, Gordon has been honored by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His recordings include Weather (Nonesuch), Light is Calling (Nonesuch), Decasia (Cantaloupe), (purgatorio) POPOPERA (Cantaloupe), Van Gogh (Cantaloupe), Trance (Argo/Cantaloupe), and Big Noise from Nicaragua (CRI). Formed in 1983 as The Michael Gordon Philharmonic and renamed The Michael Gordon Band in 2000, Gordon's own ensemble performed across Europe and the United States at venues as diverse as Alice Tully Hall and the punk mecca CBGB, on the Contemporary Music Network Tour and at the Almeida Festival in London.

Born in Miami Beach in 1956, Gordon holds a Bachelor of Arts from New York University and a Masters of Music from the Yale School of Music. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can.

His music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer, Inc.
Maguire Matthew
Matthew Maguire is a multi-disciplinary Theatre artist. He has won an OBIE Award for Acting (1998) and an OBIE Award for Direction (2007) and numerous fellowships and commissions.

The Tower, about a woman fighting for her life on an operating table dreaming she is secretly rebuilding the Tower of Babel, received its West Coast premiere in 2004 in a production by The Son of Semele Ensemble. It was a Critic’s Choice in the LA Times where David Nicholls described it as “fascinating and challenging” … as it “layers elements of Joseph Chaikin, Pina Bausch, and William S. Burroughs to build an allegorical Babel-rouser of post-Internet import.” It was also a Critics Pick in the LA Weekly, and Jeff Favre of Backstage West said “Maguire’s words are the driving force, and the profound nature of this layered work will not soon be forgotten by anyone who experiences it.”

He wrote with composer Michael Gordon the science fiction opera Chaos. The New York Times described it as an “opera that romanticizes science as successfully as any work since Einstein on the Beach,” and whose “patterns add up brilliantly.”
October 08, 1998
National Endowment for the Arts
Dr. Anna Fitzroy is a rogue physicist driven to research chaos. Dr. Lorenz Boleslaw is her partner whose own obsession with their experiment is nearly as great as their love for one another. Years of heartbreaking labor finally pay off when they penetrate to the heart of the Chaos Zone, where Marie and Pierre Curie appear as their navigators and reveal to them the secrets of chaos. Fitzroy and Boleslaw proudly report their results to their mentor, Dr. Aguabone, the head of the Institute of Science, a giant of Los Alamos, and a Nobel laureate in quantum physics.

Within the scientific world there has always been a battle between two forces: those fighting for and those against the evolution of science. Deeply threatened by chaos, Dr. Aguabone, while pretending to defend Fitzroy and Boleslaw, secretly arranges their arrest. They are promised ''freedom'' to work if they recant. Realizing Aguabone’s true nature, the scientists struggle with a moral dilemma that threatens to divide them. They escape from jail and, with Marie and Pierre's help, fight insanity, open a passage to the Chaos Zone, trap Aguabone, and broadcast his meltdown in Chaos on TV. All rejoice.
Dr. Anna Lenehan, a rogue physicist driven to research Chaos.

Dr. Lorenz Boleslaw, her partner, whose own obsession with their experiment is nearly as great as their love for one another.

Dr. Marie Curie, who discovered radium with Pierre Curie. Brilliant and humble, she avoids personal gain. In the Poland of her youth she worked underground against the Czar and has remained intensely political. Still deeply in love with Pierre, she's now an inhabitant of the Zone of Chaos. Dressed in an old, acid-stained lab coat, she emanates a blue radioactive glow. In Chaos, she is thirty-six, the age at which she was awarded her first Nobel Prize.

Dr. Pierre Curie, the co-discoverer of radium. A brilliant but awkward man who lives in bliss with Marie in Chaos where he is eternally forty-four years old. Though less political than Marie, he was a Dreyfus supporter. Pierre feels that Marie is a superhuman being who has escaped human laws.

Dr. R. George Aguabone, Director of the National Institute of Science, one of the leading scientists to emerge from Los Alamos, a Nobel Laureate in quantum physics.
Michael Gordon's score nods to the wheels-within-wheels Minimalism of Philip Glass's EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH, than moves into electronica's new sonic realms. True to pronouncements from the libretto like 'patterns always the same, but never the same,' the music is full of irregular but propulsive motifs. The singers have concise phrases, harmonized or dissonant or overlapping, [with an] intelligible libretto; they allude to the chromaticism of 12-tone music and to the non-Western modes of gamelan music and ragas. Around the vocals are the ricocheting polyrhythms of computerized music, in clear plinks and blips or in tones on the verge of dissolving into buzzes and whooshes. Although some stretches seem almost danceable, Mr. Gordon's patterns never settle into repetition; he's dispensing higher mathematics.

Avant-garde opera has struggled to find scenarios that make sense in the context of what current musicians and designers envision. CHAOS finds that connection ...its patterns add up brilliantly.

—Jon Pareles, New York Times
Length is not available.
Not Available
electronic tape, amp
Mike McCurdy
80 Hanson Pl #701

Brooklyn, NY 11217
mike@redpoppymusic.com
http://www.michaelgordonmusic.com/index.php
http://www.creationproduction.org/maguire/index.htm
www.redpoppymusic.com

Summer 2014 Magazine Issue
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  • My First Opera by Speight Jenkins
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