Spotlight on Stanford Lively Arts

There’s a great feature on Stanford Lively Arts director Jenny Bilfield posted yesterday at the MetroActive site.

An excerpt from the story of how Reich’s Double Sextet came to be:

Upon hanging up the phone [with Bilfield], Reich thought back to his ’60s pieces like Violin Phase, written for instruments being played live against recordings of themselves. He realized that he could do the same thing for eighth blackbird if the group would agree to pre-record a piece, then play a second sextet performance live against that recording—thus, Double Sextet. He called Bilfield back the next day and proposed the idea, and she took it to the group members, who said they would love to do it.

“And the piece won the Pulitzer Prize, and it is really one of the best pieces I’ve ever written,” says Reich. “But I would never have thought in a million years to write for eighth blackbird. It was Jenny Bilfield, whose basic subtext is ‘I’m not taking no for an answer.'”

And later in the article, some words about the Dave Douglas/Bill Morrison collaboration Spark Of Being [world premiere next month].

“Jenny called me and said, ‘What would you like to do that you couldn’t do anywhere else?” remembers Douglas. “It’s not every day that you get asked that question.”

The basis of the piece is matching Morrison’s talent for shaping films made from a collage of archival footage—his similarly constructed Decasia was named by the Village Voice as one of the 10 best films of 2003—with Douglas’ composition work. It has gone by many different titles over time; for a while, it was known as Frankenstein: The First 100 Years, in reference to Thomas Edison’s 1910 film.

“Before that, it was called The History of Gadgetry,” Douglas says. “For us, it’s all been about this conversation between technology and art, humanity and invention—what our inventions mean to us and how science has affected humanity. We went to Frankenstein because that seemed like a good metaphor for the whole thing. Bill works with older films, creating something new out of them, and I work a lot with samples and various disparate elements of music.”

“The Frankenstein monster is a collage of pieces in and of itself, so we’re referencing our process,” says Morrison. Finally, though, they settled on Spark of Being.

Read the full article here.