A free performance of Iannis Zenakis’ modern opera uniting the essence of classical Greek theater with an electrifying sonic experience will be held in the “Wild Beast” music pavilion at California Institute of the Arts at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7.
Staged as a participatory open-air spectacle, Oresteia highlights a city-wide celebration of pioneering musician and architect Iannis Xenakis. In Xenakis’ opera, a savage elemental score evokes the mythictragedy by ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. Presented by the Herb Alpert School ofMusic at CalArts, this concert staging of Oresteia will be the work’s West Coast premiere. Oresteia is the second event in CalArts’ Wild Beast Concert Series.
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From November 2010 through February 2011, a constellation of events and exhibitions, at venues throughout Los Angeles, will celebrate the life and work of Iannis Xenakis. Oresteia is presented in conjunction with the opening of MOCA Pacific Design Center’s exhibition, Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary.
The original Oresteia, from the fifth century B.C., chronicles the dark epic of the House of Atreus. Of Xenakis’ interpretation, music critic, Paul Griffiths wrote, he “situates his modernity in the distant past, as if his music were all about revivifying an archaic culture, making the statues speak–and sing.”
Sung in Greek, Xenakis’ Oresteia reflects the atmosphere of an ancient theatrical event. For the CalArts performance, audience members will receive archaic-style percussion instruments with which to participate in the unfolding drama. A 13-piece ensemble of wind instruments, brass and amplified solo cello will be joined by CalArts faculty baritone soloist Paul Berkolds and conductor by Mark Menzies. With men’s, women’s and children’s choruses roaming CalArts’ grounds–the setting sun will create an evocative backdrop for Xenakis’ interpretation of a timeless masterwork.
CalArts’ Herb Alpert School of Music Dean David Rosenboom knew Xenakis and is well versed in the composer’s innovative musical practices. He conceived of the Los Angeles-based celebration of the composer’s work with Xenakis scholar Sharon Kanach and critic Carey Lovelace. Kanach and Lovelace co-curated the exhibition, Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary whic h appeared at the Drawing Center in New York in 2009 and will open at MOCA Pacific Design Center in November 2010.
In January, REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) will present Iannis Xenakis: Now and Tomorrow–three days of contemporary electronic and high-tech sound events intermixed with Xenakis’ extraordinary instrumental pieces.
CalArts is located at 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia. Admission is free. For information, call 661 253 7816 or visit http://calarts.edu/