Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

May 15, 2011

afterword: The Great Learning, Austin 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 6:48 pm


THE GREAT LEARNING was truly an event and truly a milestone in Austin music history…congrats to the Austin New Music Co-op, The Texas Choral Consort, and Line Upon Line Percussion for an experience we’ll still be talking about ten years from now….

There are some general comments about the work that were posted about 2 weeks ago on this blog (scroll down for them). All I can say after the fact is that I now understand the title on a much deeper level than the obvious Mao and Confucius levels: it must have been a great re-LEARNING for the participants, and it was a great re-LEARNING for us in the audience. Mary Anne and I had the privilege of sitting next to Ms. Vanessa Rossetto both nights, and after each section, the three of us would look at each other, jaws dropped, speechless, intoning a silent “wow!”  The Central Presbyterian Church was a wonderful venue, as it had a large altar with organ and choir seating, plus three balconies (one in the back and one on each side), which were put to good use by both vocalists and percussionists.

Knowing that THE GREAT LEARNING was being filmed, I did not go up to the altar to get close-up photos because I did not want to get in the way of the filming; I stayed in my seat in the third row and merely stood up and aimed my inexpensive digital camera. Thus the photos are not great and do not lend themselves to being blown up to a larger size, but I did document each of the seven paragraphs. Here they are. There was a good crowd each night, and once again Austin earns its place as a world-class city in terms of its New Music scene.


from PARAGRAPH ONE, for chorus (speaking and playing whistles and stones) and organ


from PARAGRAPH TWO, for singers and drummers


from PARAGRAPH THREE, for large instruments and voices


from PARAGRAPH FOUR, for chorus (shouting and playing ridged or notched instruments, sonorous substances, rattles or jingles) and organ


from PARAGRAPH FIVE, for a large number of untrained musicians making gestures, performing actions, speaking, chanting, and playing a wide range of instruments plus, optionally, to singers singing “Ode Machines” which may also be performed separately


from PARAGRAPH SIX, for any number of untrained musicians



from PARAGRAPH SEVEN, for any number of untrained voices


I didn’t know how the Austin New Music Co-op would top the evening of Alvin Lucier music they presented a year or two ago. Then came Cornelius Cardew’s THE GREAT LEARNING. I know that the New Music Co-op will continue to surprise and amaze us with world-class performances of cutting-edge late Twentieth Century and contemporary music. We are indeed fortunate to live in Central Texas and to have artists with such vision and passion and committment, artists willing to take on seemingly impossible projects and spend almost two years bringing them to life…

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