Tank Masters Series

William Winant
Silver Streetcar for Orchestra
by Alvin Lucier

A triangle solo?  Yes, but wait . . .

At Solstice, 2019, the percussionist William Winant came to the Tank to perform a solo concert and proved masterful at playing the whole structure as one big drum.  Among the pieces he brought was this one, by composer Alvin Lucier, entitled Silver Streetcar for Orchestra and played on just one unusual instrument, an orchestral triangle.

In honor of Lucier’s 90th birthday, we here present that performance as part of our Tank Masters Series.

William Winant

Like other works by Lucier, this work uses repetition and limited means to produce startlingly rich and beautiful effects. This orchestral triangle produces a range of shimmering overtones as William Winant gently touches different nodes on the instrument, bringing new frequencies to the foreground. Hanging in the resonant air of the Tank, these tones form chords of additive frequencies called sum tones. Even more radically, very low tones, known as difference tones, arise as the subtractive differences of the frequencies from one another.  As all these frequencies build up during the piece, this simple instrument produces a world of ringing and swirling sounds. 

Beyond that, this recording has been reTanked twice.  Sonic Artist and Tank Board Chair Bruce Odland played the sound of Winant’s performance back in the Tank and recorded the result; then played that doubled recording through the Tank and recorded it.  Those added layers have been woven successively into this presentation, enhancing the dimensions of the original, as the endless resonances of the Tank further deepen and enrich the work.

So free your ears and dive in here. You’re in for an epic sonic adventure. And a visual one–this is recorded in 360 degree video.

Odland’s method itself is a homage to Alvin Lucier, whose breakthrough work, I am sitting in a room, re-recorded and layered a spoken text, until the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room in which he sat gradually replaced the words.  First performed at the Guggenheim Museum in 1970, the work became a landmark in electronic composition and launched a movement that came to be known as Minimal Tape Music.

Happy Birthday, Alvin!

Alvin Lucier performing I am sitting in a room

William Winant is principal percussionist with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and has been closely associated with NYC composer John Zorn.  He has also been the percussionist with the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle, having made two recordings (“Disco Volante” and “California” on Warner Brothers) and touring throughout the world with this group. For many years he worked with composer Lou Harrison, premiering many of Harrison’s works.  Winant has made over 200 recordings and has performed with some of the most innovative and creative musicians of our time, including John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, James Tenney, Frank Zappa, Cecil Taylor, George Lewis, Steve Reich and Musicians, Yo-Yo Ma, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Joan LaBarbara, Annea Lockwood, Joelle Leandre, Oingo Boingo, Sonic Youth, and the Kronos String Quartet.  In 2014 he received a Grammy nomination for his recording of John Cage’s historic solo work, 27′ 10.554″ for a percussionist, on Micro Fest Records. In 2016, he received a “Grants to Artists” award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, in recognition of his groundbreaking work as a contemporary percussionist.

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