Wood Street Galleries
Wood Street Galleries is proud to present the world premiere of “Shortplayer,” a new composition by renowned artist and composer Jem Finer. “Shortplayer” will be performed by Finer leading a group of Pittsburgh’s finest musicians at 9:30 p.m. Friday, October 1 at Wood Street Galleries, immediately following the Downtown Gallery Crawl. (“Shortplayer” concert admission is $10/$8 students.) The performance marks the Pittsburgh launch of Finer’s acclaimed artwork Longplayer, a 1,000-year-long composition that has played continuously since 1999, and which arrives in Pittsburgh as part of Wood Street Galleries’ sound-installation show, Audio Space (Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2010).
The installation of Longplayer at Wood Street Galleries marks another first, as Pittsburgh joins a remarkable list of sites with Longplayer listening posts including the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, and the Bibliotecha in Alexandria, Egypt. The Wood Street Galleries installation will be the first listening post anywhere between San Francisco and London.
Created with London-based arts organization Artangel to mark the turn of the millennium, Longplayer is Finer’s response to the difficulty of representing and understanding time on a grander scale. At its core, Longplayer is a mathematically self-generating score—not random, but a set of principles that allow the score to continually create itself in a way that is aesthetically beautiful and musically unique. For 10 years, Longplayer has played through a computer system replicating the sound of Tibetan singing bowls; in 2009, it was performed live for the first time, for 24 hours on real singing bowls. It is not a computer-generated piece: As the hour-long segment “Shortplayer” goes to prove, it can be performed on any instruments, at any stage.
But more importantly, Longplayer is a set of concepts and questions: How to compose in a way immune to changes in the cultural perception of music, changes in technology, and changes in geography and politics? With the listening post and the performance of “Shortplayer,” Finer poses these questions to Pittsburgh’s audiences for the first time.
Jem Finer and the Musicians
Artist and composer Jem Finer is considered a unique voice in exploring issues combining science, technology, and philosophy such as “deep time” through sound installation, autonomous technology, and astronomical sculpture. He has been artist-in-residence at Oxford University’s department of Astrophysics and in 2005 won the PRS Foundation New Music Award for “Score for a Hole in the Ground.” As co-founder and co-writer with famed Irish-punk band The Pogues, Finer has helped create some of the most popular and influential British pop music of the past 25 years.
The musicians gathered to perform “Shortplayer” are some of Pittsburgh’s best-known avant-garde players. Music director David Bernabo has organized the group of horn players including Ben Opie (reeds), Roger Dannenberg (trumpet), Lou Stellute (saxophone), Mark Fromm (reeds), Brandon Masterman (reeds), and Roger Day (tuba).