Just Ancient Loops
Maya Beiser, cellos, Payton MacDonald, shakers
I. Genesis (excerpt)
III. Ascension (excerpt)
Maya Beiser, Cello, Michael Harrison, Piano, Adam Abeshouse, Engineer/DJ
Young People’s Chorus of New York City
Francisco J. Núñez, conductor (excerpt)
Michael Harrison’s Just Ancient Loops, an appealing mix of live and recorded cello lines, raga-inspired drones and Minimalist rhythms performed by Maya Beiser, was enhanced by Bill Morrison’s film, recorded on archival and decaying celluloid, and repurposed for Georges Méliès-style fantasy and sublimity.
The Bang on a Can Marathon is always good for a spectacle or two. The day’s glitziest work was Michael Harrison’s Just Ancient Loops, which cellist Maya Beiser performed along with some 20 electronic versions of herself.
Maya Beiser* – Cello
Michael Harrison – Piano
Program & Upcoming CD
Notes by Maya Beiser
Time Loops is the collaboration and CD I just recorded with the extraordinary composer and pianist Michael Harrison. Harrison’s music is perfect for our times: it’s architectural and precise, yet exhilarating and beautiful. It draws on music from ancient Greece and the Renaissance, Indian ragas and minimalism. Complementing Harrison’s compositions is music by two composers he reveres: Arvo Part and J.S. Bach.
The program takes its name from the center piece of this concert: Just Ancient Loops, a 25 minute musical odyssey that Harrison composed for me and which unveils every aspect of the cello – from its most glorious and mysterious harmonics to the earthy rhythmic pizzicatos. The cello becomes an “Uber instrument” – laying down the drones, building rhythmical grooves on top of each other, singing melismatic melodies, and reaching up to the stratosphere as the music evolves and builds into a massive, exhilarating climax.
Juxtaposed with Just Ancient loops is the Suite for Solo Cello in G Major by J.S. Bach. The cello is tuned in “just Intonation,” which requires some adjustments to the original Bach score. The result is a unique and fresh approach to the interpretation of this well-known masterpiece.
Bach/Gounod’s famed Ave Maria, receives its own surprising interpretation as Harrison accompanies me on a specially tuned piano, along with two Raga-preludes inspired by Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. The inclusion of Arvo Part’s Fratres and Spiegel Im Spiegel in the program, exemplify Part’s own exploration of timbre and reverberation and the intrinsic spirituality of his music.
When possible, the concert closes with the breathtaking Hijaz, a piece commissioned by 2011 MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, conductor Francisco Nunez for female or professional children’s choir, solo cello, piano and tabla, which Harrison composed for me and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.
* Maya Beiser appears courtesy of Nicole Borrelli Hearn, Opus 3 Artists.