Songs of Fire and Thunder - March 7 - 8:00 PM - Signal Flow Festival
Dirt and Copper will premiere the first two movements of Rodolfo Córdova's Songs of Fire and Thunder.program:
Songs of Fire and Thunder is an ongoing composition that draws inspiration from Yoruba religious beliefs and their iterations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The work traces Changó (Ṣàngó), the Orisha (deity) of thunder, lighting, fire, music, dance and justice, from Western Africa to the New World. I envision this journey beginning in Nigeria, where legend tells that he was the fourth king of the city of Oyo. Fascinated by the practice of magic, the king unwillingly caused a thunderstorm that ravaged the land. Feeling remorseful, he abdicated the throne and hanged himself. His enemies scorned his name and used the opportunity to ransack his kingdom. Immediately after a series of thunderstorms destroyed the city and his followers attributed them to their former king. Proclaiming him an Orisha, they chanted: "Oba ko so!" (The king did not hang). This translated version of the chant serves as the source material for the first movement. Through constant permutations, an initially whispered phrase transforms into a war cry, navigating the liminal space between timbre and pitch.
The second movement takes us to Cuba, where a prominent amount of West Africans were brought against their will to work in the sugar cane plantations. There the different Orisha cults survived and eventually merged into a single religious practice called Santería. The phrase "Kawó Kabiesilé Changó" stemming from the Lukumí tongue (a local hispanicized version of the Yoruba language) serves as the basis for this piece. This exclamation has multiple meanings; it is a salutation of respect, a request for blessings and and invocation. The instrumental sounds evoke the sound of thunder both near and far, slowly revealing a voice that emerges from from the deep. All the musical materials used in these pieces originate exclusively from vocal improvisations that were transcribed and recomposed. I've limited myself to only engage with oral literatures out of respect to the contexts in which ceremonial and folkloric musics occur. It is my wish with this work to tell a different story: one of resilience and survival, of bridges instead of obstacles, of subjectivities that unite the peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America into a shared experience.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Rodolfo Córdova is a composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. He graduated with a BM in composition from the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and is currently pursuing his MA in composition at Mills College in Oakland, California. He has studied under the guidance of Carlos Carrillo, Manuel Ceide, Maggi Payne, Zeena Parkins and James Fei. As a singer he has trained under the instruction of countertenor Paul Flight and has participated in vocal advancement workshops with Meredith Monk. As a performer Córdova has collaborated with composers and acts like Kris Force, Brendan Glasson, Monopiece, The Iluminated Gray Ensemble, and Roscoe Mitchell. His music fuses diverse influences with electronic media, chance operations, gradual processes, noise, improvisation and timbral techniques of composition. His work explores intersections with literature and visual arts and engages with issues of colonialism, geopolitics and migration. He has also composed music for dance, having collaborated with composer and percussionist Tim Russell in composing the score for GERALD CASEL DANCE's Not about race dance. He has been an active member of ensemble Álea 21 and is a founding member of Conjunto Nueva Disonancia, an ensemble that performs the works of emerging Puerto Rican and international composers.
Tree Talk - Feb. 6 - 7:00 PM - Mills Art Museum
Dirt and Copper will premiere John Ivers' re-imagining and sonic re-composition of María Elena González's tree rubbings as part of her Tree Talk exhibition at the Mills College Art Museum. González and Ivers worked in collaboration for a year on various approaches to interpreting the original works, rubbings, and derived piano rolls in preparation for the premiere on Feb. 6, 2019.
For her current exhibition Tree Talk, María Elena González invited composers John Ivers and Marc Zollinger to premiere original scores generated from her birch tree rubbings. Ivers and Zollinger translate the visual, gestural, and topographic data found in the markings of birch tree bark into musical notation to be performed by their ensembles inside the museum. Each re-composition approaches the visual material in a variety of ways from strict graphical interpretations to differing conceptions of growth-time as the ensembles traverse open and diverse notations.
Tree #2 is split into four movements, each representing a season in the tree’s life-cycle and a unique approach to interpreting María Elena’s rubbings and generated piano roll data. In the opening movement (spring), the ensemble traverses the highest and youngest section of the tree. Invocations of wind and instability are voiced in tandem with youthful melodies derived from the tree rubbings. Movement two (summer) is highly energetic as performers branch into individual and idiomatic conversation with the tree. Movement three (fall) explores the more static, harmonic, and somber aspects of the tree as it extends from canopy to trunk. Finally, movement four (winter) synthesizes the fragile and piercing nature of ice with contours derived from the piano roll. The ensemble dramatically reestablishes itself before navigating into individual territory as the bark transitions into roots.
María Elena González is a Cuban-American artist best known for her sculptural installations informed by architecture and personal experience. She is currently Chair of the Sculpture Department at the San Francisco Art Institute. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, the Prix de Rome, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Chaotic Pathways: Dirt and Copper featuring Julie Herndon - Sept. 21 - 8:00 PM - SF Center for New Music
Chaotic Pathways is a program and album of six original compositions by members of Dirt and Copper. Originally premiered at the SF Center for New Music on September 21, the compositions were subsequently recorded for Dirt and Copper’s debut album at Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills College in October and November 2018.
An evening of original compositions exploring the boundaries between composer and performer, structure and decomposition, agency and performance practice.
-Rota Fortunae - Michelle Lee
-Out of This (.01) - Julie Herndon
-Pillars - Tony Gennaro
-Wind, Unwind - John Ivers
-Limoo - Golnaz Shariatzadeh
-Brief Candles - Matt Robidoux
press:Dirt and Copper, the latest new-music collective to emerge on the scene, had its grand coming out on Friday. The group played its first full-length show at the Center for New Music, and it was a hit.