On Saturday, October 1, Neill's composition MANITOGA will be performed for the second time at Manitoga/the Russel Wright Center in Garrison, NY. MANITOGA was commissioned through a New York State Council on the Arts Individual Artists grant by the Russel Wright Center in Garrison, NY for a unique brass quintet with live computer controlled processing. The piece is for Neill’s self-designed mutantrumpet along with 4 players of Carol Szymanski’s brass “phonemophones,” each of which forms a letter of the alphabet in a font of her design. The horns used are the letters in the word MANITOGA. Neill’s mutantrumpet acts as the controller for processing the other instruments along with sounds of the environment.
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La Monte Young Performances
Since 2014 Ben Neill and Marco Blaauw have been leading a new series of performances of The Melodic Version of The Second Dream of the High Tension Line Stepdown Transformer (1984) by La Monte Young. Performed by an international ensemble of 8 trumpets, the piece has recently been performed at:
• Dia Art Foundation, New York City
• Warsaw Autumn Festival, Warsaw, Poland
• Festival d’Automne, Paris, France
• Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK
• Ultima Festival, Oslo, Norway
The concerts take place in a light environment created by Marian Zazeela. More performances are planned in Amsterdam and other European cities for 2017.
Neill began working with Young in 1984 as a student of composition and Indian classical music. He assisted Young with the development of The Melodic Version of The Second Dream, and led many performances of the piece as well as other works by Young throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. "Pure Resonance", Neill’s essay on The Melodic Version, was published in Sound and Light, a book on Young and Zazeela published in 1996 by Bucknell University Press, and is included with the extensive program notes for the current concerts. Neill also presented Young’s Forever Bad Blues Band at The Kitchen in New York City, where he was Music Curator from 1992-99.
Fathom; Hudson River Data as Music New Collaboration with Mimi Goese
Click here to find out how you can participate in Fathom
Fathom is a new multimedia piece by Ben Neill and Mimi Goese in collaboration with the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries (BIRE) of Clarkson University. The piece is commissioned with the help of a New Music USA grant awarded in Summer 2016. BIRE is a not-for-profit environmental research organization working to expand understanding of rivers and estuaries for the benefit of public health, ecosystems, New York's economy and quality of life.
One of BIRE’s most important projects is monitoring of environmental data in the Hudson River through their REON system, which streams from multiple sensor arrays. Neill was approached in 2016 by BIRE to create a musical piece based on the scientific data, and asked his collaborator Mimi Goese to work with him on it. The duo is scheduled to premiere Fathom at the Towne Crier Café in Beacon, New York on November 17, 2016 as part of the Science Cafe series.
The musical material in Fathom will be directly derived from the REON data streams using a variety of computer software. The patterns can either generate sounds directly or be translated into conventional musical notation for the performers. During the performance real time video animations of the patterns will be projected using a video performance program. As the work unfolds, the visual graphs and data will be processed and manipulated by the performers, literally turning the science into art in both the sonic and visual realms.
The Demo with Mikel Rouse
The Demo is an electronic opera by Mikel Rouse and Ben Neill. The piece is inspired by the remarkable story of computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart’s prophetic vision of a world interconnected through personal computers. His 1968 demo rolled out virtually all that would define modern computing including videoconferencing, text editing, and something called a "mouse." Using emerging digital technologies to explore live performance with interactive media and original music, The Demo reveals the origin of computing and the internet as a unique hybrid performance event.
The world premiere of The Demo was April 1-2, 2015 at the Bing Concert Hall as part of the Stanford Live series.
A review of the March 2016 performance at the University of Kansas Lied Center can be viewed here.
Horizonal Exhibition with Andy Moses
MAHWAH, N.J. — Horizonal, a collaborative art exhibition by composer/performer Ben Neill and visual artist Andy Moses, opens in the Pascal Gallery at Ramapo College on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. There will be a talk by Neill, also a Ramapo College music professor, at 6:30 p.m. The show includes paintings by Moses and an ambient video/music installation by Neill, which uses Moses’ paintings as its visual material. The exhibition continues through April 22.
Moses’ work is a futuristic hybrid of abstraction and landscape that suggests the theme of a horizon through the use of smooth horizontal lines. Often painted on concave and convex surfaces, the luminous pieces evoke a sense of dynamic movement and the play of light. Moses does not seek to replicate imagery from the natural world, but to mimic nature itself. Using paints from the aerospace industry, his complex process of pouring paint is informed by the physical behavior and interaction of his medium with the forces of nature.
Working from Moses’ paintings, Neill expands the imagery into an ambient video and sound installation. The subtly shifting sonic animations of Moses’ paintings and the ambient music are generated by Neill’s performances on the mutantrumpet, his self-designed electro-acoustic instrument. The music and video are recorded simultaneously using the mutantrumpet and an array of digital hardware and software; the instrument’s tone, timbres and various controllers are all mapped across both audio and visual parameters. The sound includes remixes of music from Neill’s Horizonal CD, released in 2015 on Audiokult Recordings, Vienna.
On Wednesday, April 20 at 5:30 p.m., Neill will demonstrate the mutantrumpet and give a concert in the Pascal Gallery. Admission to this gallery concert event is free.