its inaugural season, Montclair State University (MSU) presents
Harry Partch¹s Oedipus, March 30, April 1 & 2 at
7:30 p.m. and April 3 at 2:00 p.m. at the new Alexander
Kasser Theater on the campus of Montclair State University in
Montclair, New Jersey.
are $35 (with discounts for seniors, groups and MSU staff, faculty,
graduate students and alumni) and may be purchased by calling
the Box Office at (973) 655-5112 or visiting www.montclair.edu/kasser.
Harry Partch¹s Oedipus is being produced by Montclair
State University¹s Office of Arts & Cultural Programming
in association with Newband and Ridge Theater and features
Music Direction by Dean Drummond and Direction by Bob McGrath.
The piece will be performed by Newband on the original Partch
Instrumentarium with projections by Laurie Olinder, film by
Bill Morrison, set design by Jim Findlay, costumes by Ruth Pongstaphone
and lighting by Matt Frey.
Harry Partch (1901-1974) was a composer, innovative theorist,
creator of musical instruments and a musical dramatist.
Between 1930 and 1972, he created a large and varied body of
work that included music dramas, dance theater, multi-media
spectacles, vocal, and chamber music. Much of his work
was performed on the now-famous instruments that he designed
and built himself. He first adapted violas to play his music
and later began to build other instruments using a new microtonal
tuning system. He built over 25 instruments including:
cloud chamber bowls, marimba eroica, gourd tree/cone gongs,
chromolodeon, kithara, spoils of war and harmonic cannon in
to numerous small hand instruments.
In 1930 Partch broke with Western European tradition and developed
a theory of music based on the tones that comprise human speech.
Instead of the traditional western octave, Partch¹s scale is
divided into 43 notes the same number of tones he identified
Partch composed Oedipus in 1952 while on the faculty
of Mills College in Oakland, California. After losing the rights
to perform the original libretto written by William Butler Yeats,
he rewrote a new text, creating a subsequent version that was
produced twice in 1954 in Sausalito, California.
third and final version of Oedipus was composed in 1967.
This version was performed by Newband at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in New York City in 1997 and is the version being used
for the Montclair State University production.
For Oedipus, Partch made it clear that his intention
was to focus on the text he had developed based on Sophocles¹
wrenching tragedy Oedipus Rex. To this end, he
employed his concept of corporeality in which speech, music
and movement seamlessly coalesce to move the story forward.
Oedipus features a cast of vocalists who speak, intone
and sing the text. Western instruments and many of Partch¹s
own instruments complete the many elements that the composer
sought to unify in the production.
Three-time Obie Award-winner and Oedipus director Bob
McGrath envisions Sophocles¹ story set, ³in a hallucinogenic
world of projections that range from ancient Greek icons to
Sigmund Freud's Vienna to our own contemporary culture.
The production looks at Oedipus through a prism of psychoanalysis,
where a man sees beyond his projected perceptions and finally
looks within to confront the truth about himself.²
Oedipus features a cast of 13 actor/singers and 16 musicians,
but to many fans of 20th. Century music, the real
star of Oedipus is the original Partch Instrumentarium
which has been housed at the Partch Institute on the campus
of Montclair State University since 1999. Partch disciple Dean
Drummond, has been curator/custodian of the instruments since
1990 and now serves as a faculty member at MSU, teaching several
Partch performance and microtonal music classes. The Harry Partch
Instrument Collection includes all of the instruments built
by Partch between 1930 and 1974, as well as several
instruments replicated by the Harry Partch Foundation between
1974 and 1984 in addition to several replications created by
Newband since 1990.
Newband was founded in 1977 by composer Dean Drummond http://www.deandrummond.com
and flutist Stefani Starin http://www.newband.org/starin.htm
who continue as Artistic Directors. With Drummond's invention
of the 31-tone zoomoozophone in 1978, the group began to explore
music using microtonality and alternative tuning systems and
in 1990, they received custodianship of the original Partch
instruments. Newband¹s past productions include: Harry Partch's
The Wayward, Oedipus and Daphne of the Dunes
with the Alice Farley Dance Theatre; Henry Cowell's Trickster
Coyote with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company; and a live
soundtrack by Drummond for F.W. Murnau's landmark silent film,
Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh).
Director Bob McGrath is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director
of Ridge Theater. He is the recipient of three OBIE awards and
has helmed productions at venues including The Brooklyn Academy
of Music, Lincoln Center, The American Repertory Theater, Carnegie
Hall / Zankel Hall and Arts at St. Ann¹s and collaborated with
composers and writers including John Adams, David Lang, Michael
Gordon, Susan Sontag, Mac Wellman and Julia Wolfe.
featured in Harry Partch¹s Oedipus include: Rachael Bell,
Chorus; Beth Griffith, Jocasta; Emily Hall, Chorus (Solo); Joy
Harrell, Chorus; Daniel Harnett, Creon; Daniel Keeling, Tiresias/Herdsman;
Kristen Mahon, Chorus; Robert Osborne, Oedipus; Brittany Palmer,
Chorus; Mark Peters, Priest; David Ronis, Spokesman; Megan Wyler,
Chorus and Daniel Zippi, Messenger. Musicians include Lisa Stokes
Chin, Bass; Brad Carbone, Bass Marimba; Charles Corey, Gourd
Tree/Cone Gongs; David Hanlon, Piano; Jonathan Klizas, Adapted
Guitars; Anna Lawrence, Sub Bass; Stacey Mack, Chromolodeon
I; Danielle Phillips, Cloud Chamber Bowls; Chris Nappi, Diamond
Marimba; Sara Phillips, Bass Clarinet; Tawnya Popoff, Adapted
Viola; Dan Sagi, Clarinet; Katie Schlaikjer, Cello; Charlie
Schmid, Kithara II; Jonathan Shapiro, Marimba Eroica and Jared
Soldiviero, Harmonic Canon.
Performances of Harry Partch¹s Oedipus are March 30,
April 1-2 at 7:30 p.m. and April 3 at 2:00 p.m. A special pre-performance
talk featuring Dean Drummond and Bob McGrath is tentatively
scheduled for Friday, March 2 at 6:00. The Kasser Theater is
accessible weekdays by train and bus via New Jersey transit
and convenient parking is located in the deck adjacent to the
theater. For more show and travel information or to order
973/655-5112 or visit www.montclair.edu/kasser.
Appointed in July of 2005, MSU¹s Executive Director of Arts
& Cultural Programming Jedediah Wheeler seeks to, ³reach
out to artists from around the world who may not necessarily
fit conventional ideas regarding dance, music, theater or opera.
Our program seeks to produce and present the visionary artists
of our time allowing them to realize their creative vision on
stage without compromise.² Utilizing the resources and infrastructure
of a major state university, Wheeler and MSU hope to showcase
work that could not or would not be produced or presented elsewhere
due to commercial constraints
including technical, time and budgetary limitations. Recent
performances include Blush by Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima
Vez, Man and Boy: Dada by Michael Nyman, Areal
by Granular Synthesis and The Busker¹s Opera directed
by Robert Lepage.
Montclair State University, New Jersey¹s second largest and
fastest-growing university, offers all the advantages of a large
university including comprehensive undergraduate curriculum
with a global focus, a broad variety of superior graduate programs,
and a diverse faculty and student body, combined with a small
college¹s attention to students. For more information, visit
information on Harry Partch:
For information on Dean Drummond, Newband and the Partch
information on Ridge Theater:
Contact: Kyle DeVaul, Communications
Manager, Montclair State University,
Office of Arts & Cultural Programming.