Saturday, August 21, 2010

feldman memories (i)

On Thursday night I gave a humble little recital of Hummel (ha!), Mozart and Feldman. For years I've wanted to perform The Viola in My Life (III) and for whatever reason I decided that this summer would be my time. Following the performance and my (perhaps overly) emphatic advocacy of Feldman, an audience member approached me to understand better why I loved Feldman so. Her direct question forced me to examine more than just the visceral response his music stirs within me. In fumbling for words and explanations I came to understand that more than anything, Feldman's appropriation of silence excites my synapses. I say "appropriation" because I feel that is what he truly does. His silences represent the maturation of the classical GP, but also our own personal moments of reflection. I don't want to be drawing connections willy-nilly (that would just be ridiculous), but from my perspective it seems as though he captures and re-purposes those moments in life where there not only exists pure presence but also a kind of static stillness.

In case you have not realized already, I love Morton Feldman. His oeuvre occupies a special place in my heart--I cannot articulate why, but I can recount my first experience with his music.

I'll never forget the summer I spent listening to his second quartet, Triadic Memories, Rothko Chapel, and the Viola in My Life (IV). At the time, I worked for the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the U of M as a graphic designer and illustrator (I believe my official title was something like student communications assistant or some such). My boss shared his office with me, and bless him, he didn't mind listening to Feldman when he arrived in the mornings (or, if he did, I never knew it). I have these very vivid memories of unlocking the office several hours before the work day began sitting at my desk and watching the orange sunlight pour through dusty venetian blinds: always that slightly rusty orange color--strangely toxic and never quite pure. Pixel by pixel, I manipulated my images as that damned diseased light crept across the carpet; Feldman's eerie placidity was an apt companion. In hindsight, it is surprising that I adore his music as much as I do! What a dreadful summer.

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