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 ”:  YouR music / hAs / no Problems / wHy / is thAt / it is bEcause it is / so beautifuL / that is its probleM which that is is / Of / courSe no problem / none aT all / nonE / at aLL

Mesostic poem by John Cage, “Song for the Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble: New Music for Old Instruments”, vertically spelling out the name “Raphael Mostel”: YouR music / hAs / no Problems / wHy / is thAt / it is bEcause it is / so beautifuL / that is its probleM which that is is / Of / courSe no problem / none aT all / nonE / at aLL

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Retrospective Exhibition

Library for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, New York City

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

Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble - New Music for Old Instruments [sm] performing  Prologues / Secrets / Hymn of the Sun , composed by Raphael Mostel  Federal Hall, NYC, 1984  photo: George Konz

Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble - New Music for Old Instruments [sm] performing Prologues / Secrets / Hymn of the Sun, composed by Raphael Mostel

Federal Hall, NYC, 1984

photo: George Konz

Ceremonial for the Equinox, an acoustic music ritual , a concert-length work composed and directed by Raphael Mostel (center), commissioned by the Cathedral of St John the Divine, NYC, 1985  photo: Michael Sullivan

Ceremonial for the Equinox, an acoustic music ritual, a concert-length work composed and directed by Raphael Mostel (center), commissioned by the Cathedral of St John the Divine, NYC, 1985

photo: Michael Sullivan

Ceremonial for the Equinox  Rehearsing one of the two percussion batteries for the  tohu v’bohu  section  photo: Michael Sullivan

Ceremonial for the Equinox Rehearsing one of the two percussion batteries for the tohu v’bohu section

photo: Michael Sullivan

digital fossils CD release  cover image, Andy Goldsworthy, used with permission

digital fossils CD release

cover image, Andy Goldsworthy, used with permission

digital fossils CD release of Mostel:  Jacob’s Ladder  and  Nightsong

digital fossils CD release of Mostel: Jacob’s Ladder and Nightsong

Mostel:  Music for the October Moon   first performance at Cathedral of St John the Divine, NYC, 1986  photo: Arlene Lee

Mostel: Music for the October Moon

first performance at Cathedral of St John the Divine, NYC, 1986

photo: Arlene Lee

As part of Raphael Mostel paying tribute to the remarkable Beate Sirota Gordon at the Asia Society, April 28, 2013, a look back at performances in 1987 at the commemorations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the atom bomb victims, which she had arranged for the Asia Society to co-present with Source Music, Inc.

Performing  Swiftly, How Swiftly…   in front of mass burial site, Peace Park, Hiroshima, Japan, 1987

Performing Swiftly, How Swiftly…

in front of mass burial site, Peace Park, Hiroshima, Japan, 1987

Ensemble in Hiroshima, Japan, at Mitakidera with host Rev. Satoh and translator Naomi Itoh, 1987

Ensemble in Hiroshima, Japan, at Mitakidera with host Rev. Satoh and translator Naomi Itoh, 1987

digital fossils CD release of Mostel:  Swiftly, How Swiftly…  and  The River   dedicated to the atom bomb victims  cover image: NASA and steps of Mitakidera, Hiroshima

digital fossils CD release of Mostel: Swiftly, How Swiftly… and The River

dedicated to the atom bomb victims

cover image: NASA and steps of Mitakidera, Hiroshima

Front page, Asahi Shimbun, on Raphael Mostel and compositions for the Tibetan Singing Bowl Bowl Ensemble - New Music for Old Instruments performed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dedicated to the atom bomb victims

Front page, Asahi Shimbun, on Raphael Mostel and compositions for the Tibetan Singing Bowl Bowl Ensemble - New Music for Old Instruments performed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dedicated to the atom bomb victims