Saturday 21 February 2015, 8pm
Charlemagne Palestine is one of music's true iconoclasts - famed for his epic, extended duration works for organ, the distinctive piano playing of his 'strumming music' and his ritualistic 'stuffed animals and cognac' performance style. For this show, Charlemagne will be performing alongside Irish multi-instrumentalist Áine O'Dwyer, fresh of the back of her fantastic recent double LP on MIE, Music For Church Cleaners.
Charlemagne Palestine (born Charles Martin or Chaim Moshe Tzadik Palestine August 15, 1945, or 1947, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American minimalist composer, performer, and visual artist. Palestine has studied at New York University, Columbia University, Mannes College of Music, and the California Institute of the Arts.
A contemporary of Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Phill Niblock, and Steve Reich, Palestine wrote intense, ritualistic music in the 1970s, intended by the composer to rub against Western audiences’ expectations of what is beautiful and meaningful in music. A composer-performer originally trained to be a cantor, he always performed his own works as soloist. His earliest works were compositions for carillon and electronic drones, and he is perhaps best known for his intensely performed piano works. He also performs as a vocalist: in Karenina he sings in the countertenor register and in other works he sings long tones with gradually shifting vowels and overtones while moving through the performance space or performing repeated actions such as throwing himself onto his hands.
Palestine's Strumming Music (1974) remains his best-known work. It features over 45 minutes of Palestine forcefully playing two notes in rapid alternation that slowly expand into clusters. He performed this on a nine-foot Bösendorfer grand piano with the sustain pedal depressed for the entire length of the work. As the music swells (and the piano gradually detunes), the overtones build and the listener can hear a variety of timbres rarely produced by the piano. A recording of Strumming Music was also Palestine's second vinyl album in the 1970s, reissued on CD in 1991. Since then, several additional recordings (featuring Palestine on piano, organ, harmonium, and voice) from the 1970s—including new recordings of more recent works such as Schlingen-Blängen—have become available.
Palestine's performance style is ritualistic: he generally surrounds himself (and his piano) with stuffed animals, smokes large numbers of kretek (Indonesian clove cigarettes), and drinks cognac.
Áine O'Dwyer, (b. Co.Limerick, Ireland) lives and works between Ireland and the UK. She graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2006 and the Slade School of Art in 2011. She creates live and recorded events which embrace the broader aesthetics of sound and its relationship to environment, time, audience and structure. The notion of a holding space as-extension-of-instrument is a cornerstone of her artistic investigation and the crux of her live performances. Her most recent live works include Civil Twilight (Rhubaba Gallery, Edinburgh 2017), Down at Beasty Rock (CCA, Glasgow 2017), Poems for Daedalus (Daedalus street, Athens 2018) and Pianowalk (Novas Frequências, Rio de Janeiro 2018). Notable releases include Music for Church Cleaners, Beast diaries, Locusts, Gegeinschein, Gallarais and Poems for play which was released on her publishing imprint Cloch.