Saviet/Houston Duo

CONSTELLATIONS 2021 produced with the kind support of Musikfonds

Music by Chiyoko Szlavnics, Catherine Lamb, and new works by Saviet/Houston and Michaela Catranis

November 21 km28 Berlin

November 24 Sankt Peter Cologne

November 25 Kulturnhalle Leipzig

November 26 Tonalisaal Hamburg

Chiyoko Szlavnics: Constellations I-III (2011), piano & sinewaves

Constellations I-III is based upon a series of drawings, which themselves, were variations of a single source drawing. For this composition, I took one of the ‘variation drawings’ as a basis, and developed several scenarios that would place the piano and sinewaves in different relationships with one another.

Many of the sustaining sinewaves were designed to mirror the piano’s resonance and decay. This promotes a certain kind of correspondence and interplay, which I find both mysterious, and intellectually stimulating.

Constellations I-III was composed at the invitation of Eve Egoyan. It premiered The Music Gallery in Toronto, in the Spring of 2011.

Saviet/Houston: Repeat/Sustain for piano and violin (2021)

Reduction. Constant repetition of a single activity results in stasis. An attempt to inhabit the threshold between these states. Staying present in the coming and going of breath.

Michaela Catranis: The glo_machine chronicles (violin, piano/synthesizers & glo_machine) (2021) (UA)

  This is an intermedia work that interrogates the role technology plays in human experience and the tendency towards a hybrid existence. It is the story of a machine that glows in the presence of human emotion, the glo_machine. Each movement represents a sequence in the machine’s life, from birth to death, exploring themes of innocence, love, fear, dysfunction, and mortality. It portrays the timeline of this machine with its human-like sensibilities, whose function and purpose relies on human interaction. Inversely, the glo_machine augments the human sensory perception, expanding our audio-visual awareness in the form of sound-to-color synesthesia. It generates visual textures that morph to audio frequencies in real-time, creating an immersive, multisensory environment.

The technology was designed by AI-specialist, Nikolay Jetchev, with a user-friendly interface created by Duncan Blythe. The projection uses a PSGAN model to generate textures smoothly morphing in time, carefully tuned to the music. Selecting input images with a suitable theme for training the PSGAN allows emphasis on the artists’ vision and represents a novel form of digital synesthesia.

The idea for creating this tool stems from the theme “human_machine.” Combining live performance with emerging AI, we’ve create a space to explore the relationship between the artist and the machine. How does the artist respond to digital realities? How does technology help us transcend physical limitations of our instrument(s) and what kind of art would that look like, the human and machine, not as polarities but as synergetic, co-evolving?

Musical structure:

Part one:

Birth – Wooden lullaby – Sometimes I wake up screaming

The first three movements of this piece are dedicated to the Greek kemenche player, Giorgos Amarantidis. Many of the melodic and rhythmic elements were inspired by his kemenche recordings. The improvisatory nature of his music as well as the tendency towards open intervals, create a sense of nascency, or birth. This was the starting point for the piece, elements of which can be heard throughout.The final movement in this section is more of a rude awaking: the sudden, unexpected loss of innocence in an abrupt, even violent manner.

Part two:

Sweet talk and music everywhere – Satienne – Glitch

In part two, the machine experiences feelings of love and nostalgia. It begins with a poem by my brother, Thaddeus Catranis:

And there at that time

was music coming out of everywhere

it was sweet talk, fake gold rings and plastic

gems hanged loose there, and a swing on the hill,

pearl strings, chestnut arcs, swirls and arches they

swung slack on soft ringlets and swung on sweet ears

(Thaddeus Michael Catranis, 2017)

These emotional states become disrupted in the final movement of the set, Glitch. This movement combines old radio recordings (Sci-fi radio: Atom Age Adventures) and synthesizer to create a sense of deep-space travel. Malfunction and collision ensue, and the life of the glo_machine begins to fade.

Part three:

Death and the machine – Parting

This final section centers around the death of the machine. The first piece develops over a repeating sequence of four chords, resembling the structure and serious character of a passacaglia. Finally, in Parting, a slow, somber state is intermittently ruptured by short, explosive outbursts. These outbursts and final return to calm, suggest both the dispersion of color emanating from the machine, and its ultimate decline. 

Catherine Lamb: Prisma Interius VII (violin, secondary rainbow synthesizer (2018)

In Catherine Lamb’s Prisma Interius series the unpredictability of the outside articulates the field of perception through precise bandpass filters, while acoustic instruments and musicians guide the unfolding of its harmonic space. A series of nine pieces exploring the potential of the Secondary Rainbow synthesizer, an instrument developed in 2016-2017 with Bryan Eubanks, that uses the live environment outside the performance space as a noise generator for basic subtractive synthesis. The intention is to dynamically fuse the outside world and acoustic instruments and what emerges is a sort of Aeolian harp residue highlighting the spectral information the listener might perceive in a given moment.