Inventing a new “old” tradition

 Mesostic poem by  John Cage ,  “Song for the Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble: New Music for Old Instruments” , vertically spelling out the name “ Raphael Mostel ”

Mesostic poem by John Cage, “Song for the Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble: New Music for Old Instruments”, vertically spelling out the name “Raphael Mostel

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Retrospective Exhibition

Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center featured a retrospective exhibition of four composers who each created new kinds of ensembles to realize an individual and a radically different compositional vision. Raphael Mostel was featured for envisioning new possibilities for music using pre-existing mostly ambiguously-pitched instruments from ancient cultures around the world. The core of the ensemble he founded in 1982 were the so-called “Tibetan” singing bowls, which were quite unknown at the time. Harry Partch was featured as a self-described “musician seduced into carpentry”, creating new instruments to realize his works expanding the microtonal possibilities. Skip La Plante was featured for being one of the founders (Carole Weber was the other) of the collective using detritus to create music-making possibilities, “Music for Homemade Instruments” (which has since given rise to Bash the Trash). The fourth composer was the more entrepreneurial Tan Dun for having commissioned ceramic artist Ragnar Naess to create performable ceramics.

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 Display of setup for a performance of Raphael Mostel’s Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble. In the rear at right is original instrument of Harry Partch. Photos: Michael Sullivan

Display of setup for a performance of Raphael Mostel’s Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble. In the rear at right is original instrument of Harry Partch. Photos: Michael Sullivan

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