Extradition Series

ArtsWatch Year in Music 2017

ArtsWatch chronicles a year that showcased women's music, natural inspirations, and institutional evolution

Oregon music is surging, and this year, Oregon ArtsWatch has been your personal surfboard to keep you on top of the tide instead of inundated by it. And to bring you views of the powerful creative forces beneath the waves. This roundup is in no way a comprehensive or even representative sample of the dozens and dozens of music-related previews, reviews, features, interviews, profiles, and more we presented in 2017. Instead, we’ve chosen mostly stories whose value transcends a particular concert, leaned toward Oregon rather than national artists (who can get plenty of press elsewhere), favored music by today’s American composers instead of long-dead Europeans, and tried to represent a variety of voices and approaches. We hope this roundup gives a valuable snapshot of an eventful, fruitful moment in Oregon’s musical culture.

Homegrown Sounds

Although we also write about jazz and other improvised music and other hard-to-classify sounds, ArtsWatch’s primary musical focus has always been contemporary “classical” (a term we’d love to replace with something more accurate) composition by Oregon composers, and this year presented a richer tapestry than ever. As always, Cascadia Composers led the way in presenting new Oregon music in the classical tradition, but others including FearNoMusic, Third Angle New Music, the University of Oregon and even new entities like Burn After Listening also shared homegrown sounds. ArtsWatch readers learned about those shows and composers from accomplished veterans like Kenji Bunch to emerging voices such as Justin Ralls.

Wright, Brugh, Clifford, Safar, and ?? play with toys at Cascadia Composers’ Cuba concert.

Cascadia Composers and Crazy Jane fall concerts: Spanning the spectrum
Quartet of concerts reveals rich diversity in contemporary Oregon classical — or is that ‘classical’ ? — Music. JANUARY 20 MATTHEW ANDREWS.

Kenji Bunch: Seeing the Elephant
After returning to home ground, the Portland composer’s career blossoms with commissions from the Oregon Symphony and Eugene Ballet. MARCH 7 BRETT CAMPBELL.

45th Parallel preview: from conflict to collaboration
ArtsWatch review provokes contention, then cooperation as ensemble invites writer to co-curate a concert featuring music by young Oregon composers. MARCH 29  BRETT CAMPBELL. Also read Maria Choban’s review: 45th Parallel review: Horror show .

Burn After Listening: Stacy Phillips, Lisa Ann Marsh, Jennifer Wright.

‘Fire and Ice’ preview: accessible adventure
New Portland composers’ collective’s debut performance includes aerial dance, sculpture, poetry, icy instruments — and a close connection to audiences. APRIL 27 BRETT CAMPBELL

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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

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.

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Extradition Series summer concert video preview: open season

Seventh edition of Creative Music Guild's quarterly experimental music series showcases spacious 21st century sounds

In January 2016, Portland composer and percussionist  Matt Hannafin spontaneously stood up during intermission at a CD release concert for a recording with Portland oboist Catherine Lee and declared it the first in a new quarterly series. Thus, in appropriately improvisatory fashion, was born Creative Music Guild’s Extradition Series: concerts of sparse, meditative, experimental music drawn from “the 20th-century experimental tradition” that often features works by composers associated with the Fluxus movement, the Wandelweiser Group, and Portland’s improvisation scene, of which Creative Music Guild is a key component.

Matt Hannafin performing with Tim DuRoche, Branic Howard, and Loren Chasse, Extradition Series spring concert 2016, Portland.

The written scores are usually open in some way: flexible in instrumentation and duration, frequently aleatoric and/or improvisatory, and often graphically rather than conventionally notated. It can all be pretty weird, even tedious if you’re not used to it, but once your monkey mind settles down it’s extremely potent stuff.

This Saturday, July 22, the Extradition Series Summer Concert features seven works over the course of about two hours. As with the other Extradition concerts Hannafin’s put on since then, the upcoming summer show—their seventh altogether—alternates solos with larger ensemble pieces. Click on the video below to see excerpts from a rehearsal for this concert.


Video interview with Matt Hannafin and Epstein rehearsal.

Doug Theriault will bring out his electric guitar to perform Giacinto Scelsi‘s percussive 1967 piece Ko Tha. Lee will perform two recent compositions written specifically for her: Dana Reason’s 2017 Chanson de Fleurs – Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Taylor Brook’s 2016 microtonal piece Alluvium for oboe d’amore and pre-recorded sound. Pianist/electronicist Matt Carlson and bass clarinetist Jonathan Sielaff will trade off on a pair of solo pieces by Wandelweiserist Anastassis Philippakopoulos, Sielaff playing 2002’s “Onissia” on bass clarinet and Carlson switching from synthesizers to piano for “Song No. 2” from Two Piano Pieces 2006-2008.

And it wouldn’t be an Extradition show without at least one big ensemble piece. Carlson, trumpeter Douglas Detrick, saxophonist and clarinetist Lee Elderton, and Lee will perform Samuel Vriezen‘s melodic collage The Weather Riots from 2002, and the group (with: sound engineer and composer Branic Howard, saxophonist Reed Wallsmith, and percussionist Loren Chasse replacing Detrick, Lee, and Theriault) will play Nomi Epstein‘s Combine, Juxtapose, Delayed Overlap from 2013. This last ought to be a hoot, if the rehearsal I attended is any indication. Each of the players chooses three sounds and passes them around the ensemble according to the composer’s titular directions.

A lot of the fun in this kind of music, aside from the transcendent realms your spirit can reach when you sit back and soak it up, comes from the interactions among the various players, some of whom have been working together for nearly a decade. This is a group of highly advanced musicians who could be doing whatever they like—and what they like, at least four times a year, is to make slow, beautiful, contemplative music together.

 Extradition Series Summer Concert begins at 7 pm on Saturday, July 22 at Portland’s Leaven Community Center at the edge of Alberta Park on Northeast Killingsworth. Tickets are sliding scale, $5-15.

Matthew Neil Andrews is a composer, percussionist, and editor at Portland State University. He and his music can be reached at monogeite.bandcamp.com.

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Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch.

‘Extradition’ review: difficult on purpose

Creative Music Guild concert embraces experimental, aleatoric, multiphonic, ritualistic, electronic and ultimately rewarding sounds

Story, photos and video by MATTHEW ANDREWS

Below you’ll find an extended video recap of some highlights of this show. Read this before watching the video, or afterwards, or both, or at the same time, or not at all. In case of confusion, consult the I Ching, the Tarot, a sack of runes, or your pineal gland—whichever is closer at hand.

When John Cage is the most mainstream composer on the program, you know you’re in for something out of the ordinary. When Creative Music Guild is putting on the show, you know it’s really going to be something you haven’t heard before. And when it’s Portland percussionist and experimental music impresario Matt Hannafin’s Extradition Series doing their quarterly show, then it’s time to put away all your expectations, get comfortable, take whatever drugs or do whatever meditation exercises you need to, and open your ears for the most exigent listening experience you’re likely to have this season.

Last time I covered an Extradition concert, Hannafin and his crew ended a two and a half hour concert with rocks in their hands, rubbing and clacking them periodically with sine tone and pink noise accompaniment over the course of something like 30 minutes (Michael Pisaro’s Six Stones)… and this was the conclusion of a concert already overflowing with very slow, sparse music. It was mesmerizing, and haunting, and to be honest it was a little hard to sit through (or stand through, in my case, since I was filming). Ultimately, though, it was totally worth it.

Extradition’s April 22 concert was just as demanding and even more rewarding, as the community of CMG regulars and guest artists worked their way through experimental works by Cage, Alvin Lucier (the second-most “mainstream” name on the bill), G. Douglas Barrett, and two Japanese composers: Takehisa Kosugi and Toshi Ichiyanagi.

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