Extradition Series preview: in the spirit of Pauline

Creative Music Guild concert presents spacious contemporary music inspired by the ideas of 20th century American music pioneer Pauline Oliveros

by MATTHEW ANDREWS

The music in Creative Music Guild’s Extradition Series shows a certain dispersed consistency: experimental, improvisatory, sparse, full of radiant silences and gentle chaos, irrepressibly non-traditional (ex-traditional?) in terms of timbre, tonality, rhythm, melody, and the use of acoustic time and space. The individual pieces of music sound radically different from each other, but they tend to sound more alike than they sound like anything else you’re likely to hear in Portland. And once you start getting into Extradition’s particular groove, it becomes one of those specialized tastes, like Indian food or durian or abstract art or free jazz or French Black Metal or early 20th-century atonal classical music. If it’s what you’re in the mood for, only that will do. Nothing else is gonna scratch that itch. Saturday’s concert celebrates one of Extradition’s forebears — Pauline Oliveros, another artist who provokes visceral, addictive responses — in performances of her music and works she inspired.

The quarterly series often includes the work of composers associated with Fluxus, the Wandelweiser Group, and other such mid-to-late-20th-century experimental scenes, all those collectives of artists and theorists and composer-performers who established–wait for it–new traditions of their own. These movements made “slow music, quiet music, spare music, fragile music,” and sometimes claimed Satie as their spiritual godfather. Much of the Real Work was done by people most of us have never heard of (or if you have, it’s as “Yoko Ono’s first husband” or “Rzewski’s mentor in Rome” or “the guy who did the I Am Sitting In A Room thing”), but it’s Cage who (until recently) has had the biggest name recognition outside these circles.

The Extradition Series takes place at Portland’s Leaven Community Center.

This time around, Extradition founder Matt Hannafin and company are honoring the recently departed accordionist, electro-acoustician, and Pioneer of Deep Listening: Pauline Oliveros. These concerts always have something of Pauline’s spirit in them, and they’ve performed Her music in the past, but now that She has entered the Spirit Realm, it seems extra-appropriate to honor Her and Her Great Work.

The centerpiece of this dedication is double-reed expert Catherine Lee and Hannafin’s performance of the Oliveros duet Two for T on oboe d’amore and percussion, but this overt connection is only one portion of the concert. Oliveros’ former student and collaborator and OSU Director of Popular Music Dana Reason plays Gordon Mumma‘s brief, concentrated piano piece “7/5 a Pauline Oliveros” as a companion to “tilework” composer Tom Johnson‘s “Chain II / Chain III.”

Clarinetist/saxophonist Lee Elderton (of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble), trombonist Evan Spacht (whom we last heard playing sound shaman with sine-wave drones), Reed College bass professor (and one of Portland’s favorite Bay Area jazz transplants) Andre St. James, and Mike Gamble (CMG artistic director and one of the most prolific guitarists in Portland) play Reason’s own Folded Subjects: Olive Rose, a harmonically complex piece with a deliberate element of chance (folds in paper scores dictate the players’ parts) and a punning title Oliveros would surely have appreciated. A quartet by Dutch flutist and Wandelweiser co-founder Antoine Beuger, a visual-cue-based “performance rite” by British systems music specialist (and Cornelius Cardew apprentice) Christopher Hobbs, and a vocal duet by Wandelweiserist Daniel Brandes round out the program.

And there are a few performers on this bill whom I haven’t heard with Extradition before: harpist Sage Fisher, better known as Dolphin Midwives (whose shows with Dead Death and local gamelans over the last couple years got me into all this stuff in the first place), and a wildly diverse bunch of vocalists: Blanca Stacey Villalobos, Lara Pacheco, Gina James, Alyssa Reed-Stuewe, Bonnie Singer, and Marion Van Namen.

As always, the show goes on at Northeast Portland’s favorite sanctuary, alternate music venue, yoga and meditation center, food and daycare co-op, and all around badass Salt-and-Light-Lutheran community cornerstone, Leaven Community Center, right across the street from Alberta Park on NE Killingsworth. Coming here feels like coming home, as if everything good and holy about the Body of Christ has been distilled into an ecumenical sacred gathering place open to all God’s children. With the series’s emphasis on listening and reflection and conscious, communal, collaborative music-making, it’s an ideal spot for Extradition.

The Extradition Series Fall Concert happens only once a year, and this year it’s happening at 7:30 p.m. on this Saturday, October 21, at Leaven Community Center. Admission is sliding scale $5-15, cash only at the door. More information is available here.

Matthew Neil Andrews is a composer, singer, percussionist, and editor at Portland State University, and serves on the board of Cascadia Composers. He and his music can be reached at monogeite.bandcamp.com.

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