Minimalist Music and Historical Keyboards

Thu, 11/07/2019

Over the next two weekends the Cornell music department and the Center for Historical Keyboards present a rare sonorous feast of minimalist music on original instruments.

In celebration of its 50th birthday this year, the pioneering synthesizer trio Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Ensemble will go analogue, presenting David Borden’s masterpiece The Continuing Story of Counterpoint in two landmark concerts on Friday, November 8th (7pm, Barnes Hall) and Friday, November 15th (7pm, Johnson Museum of Art) on original Moog synthesizers and other historic keyboard instruments from the 1960s. In addition to the band’s regular members, David Borden, Blaise Bryski, and David Yearsley, the impressive line-up of keyboard talent will include Xak Bjerken, Roger Moseley, Annette Richards and Richard Valitutto, as well as other guests.

Between those two concerts of mesmerizing synthesizer riffs and phases, the Ensemble X concert on Sunday, November 10th (Barnes Hall, 3pm) will feature two minimalist masterworks for two keyboards, Steve Reich’s Proverb on synthesizers and John Adams’s Hallelujah Junction for two pianos.

Together, these concerts amount to a festival of keyboard counterpoint in which ecstatic textures at pianos and Moogs create a super-keyboard, an epic 20th/21st-century music machine whose contrapuntal idioms look all the way back to the Notre Dame polyphony of the late 12th-century Perotin.

David Yearsley plays keyboard