Christine Tavolacci & Bonnie Whiting | Ryoanji

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by Christine Tavolacci & Bonnie Whiting

Experimental music for flute and percussion. This is a hypnotically sparse recording of John Cage's graphic score Ryoanji(1983-5), for multi-tracked flute and percussion, performed by flutist Christine Tavolacci and percussionist Bonnie Whiting.
Genre: Classical: Twentieth Century
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ryoanji
Christine Tavolacci & Bonnie Whiting
27:53 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Ryōan-ji (竜安寺, “The Temple of the Dragon at Peace”) is a Zen temple in Kyoto known for its karasansui, or “dry landscape,” garden. The garden consists of a formation of 15 larger moss-covered rocks on a bed of smooth white pebbles – small, polished river rocks. The temple was founded in 1450 on the original estate of the 11th-century Fujiwara family. It was destroyed in the Onin wars, rebuilt in 1488, and destroyed again by fire in 1779. Akisato Rito remade a 15-stone garden over the remaining rubble at the end of the 18th century. Zen monks rake the gravel daily.

From 1983 to ’85, John Cage made a series of compositions called Ryoanji for solo instruments with percussion and tape, or with 20-member orchestra. Versions exist for voice, oboe, flute, trombone, and double bass. The pieces are related to a 1983 drawing series, Where R = Ryoanji, made by tracing 15 different stones.

The garden is a rectangle of 25 by 10 meters, consisting of 15 stones in five groups (of 5, 3, 3, 2, and 2). From any place along the periphery, only 14 stones are visible at once. The number 15 represents completeness in Buddhist thought; the fifteenth stone is said to be visible only upon attaining enlightenment.

Cage traced parts of the stones’ perimeters onto 8 two-page songs, each page made of two rectangles in which curves are read as glissandi within given a pitch range. Where contours overlap, making it impossible for a soloist to realize, a pre-recorded tape part joins. The percussion part consists of unspecified sounds of wood and metal, always played in unison.


I have approached this realization of Ryoanji as a meditation on the minutiae of sound production on the flute - the rate of speed at which air leaves my lungs and travels through the instrument, the breaking points between traditional flute sounds, Aeolian sounds and whispers, the specific motions made by my fingers as they lift from the keys. In sedate focus, these minutiae create a host of liminal sounds that I have grown to greatly appreciate with passing time.
- Christine Tavolacci

Christine Tavolacci, flute
Christine is a Los Angeles based flutist and educator specializing in contemporary and experimental music. She has traveled across the United States and Europe to study and perform, and has had the pleasure of working with many celebrated 20th and 21st century composers, such as Christian Wolff, James Tenney, Larry Polansky, Clarence Barlow and Jurg Frey. Christine has been involved in the premieres of many new works, including those by Alvin Lucier, James Saunders, Michael Pisaro, Chiyoko Slavnics, and Catherine Lamb.

Christine is active as a soloist, improviser, curator and chamber musician both in California and internationally. She is co-founder and co-director of Southland Ensemble, as well as a member of the Dog Star Orchestra, Gurrisonic, and the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble. Her playing has been released on Slub Music(Japan), Tzadik and Orenda Records. She has been a guest lecturer at both UCLA and CalArts, an associate instructor at UC San Diego, and has taught several workshops on contemporary music to children of various ages. She holds degrees from California Institute of the Arts, Conservatoire National de Region Strasbourg and University of California San Diego.

Bonnie Whiting, percussion
Bonnie Whiting performs and commissions new experimental music for percussion. She seeks out projects involving non-traditional notation, interdisciplinary performance, improvisation, and the speaking percussionist.

Recent work includes a series of concerts at the John Cage Centennial Festival in Washington DC, and performance as a soloist in Tan Dun's Water Passion under the baton of the composer himself. In 2011, she joined red fish blue fish percussion group in premiering the staged version of George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny directed by Peter Sellars and featuring Dawn Upshaw for Ojai Festival.

Whiting has collaborated with many of today's leading new music groups, including eighth blackbird (the “Tune-in” festival at the Park Avenue Armory), the International Contemporary Ensemble (American premiere of James Dillon’s Nine Rivers at Miller Theatre), Bang on a Can (Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians for the LA Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella Series) and Ensemble Dal Niente (the Fromm Concerts at Harvard.) During the summer, she is a member of the Walden Players, enesmble in residence at the Walden School in Dublin, NH.

She performs regularly with percussionist Allen Otte; they have presented concerts at The Stone in New York, The New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, throughout New Zealand, and at colleges and universities around the country. Her debut album, featuring an original solo-simultaneous realization of John Cage’s 45’ for a speaker and 27’10.554” for a percussionist, will be released by Mode Records in 2015.

Bonnie attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory (BM), University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (MM), and University of California San Diego (DMA.) She spent a year as Visiting Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and served as a lecturer at the University of California San Diego. She joined the faculty of the DePauw University School of Music in 2013.



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