The week of March 28th 2016 saw me giving saxophone and electronics masterclasses with Gianpaolo Antongirolami at the Conservatorio di Musica “Benedetto Marcello” in Venice. We were guests of Massimo Marchi and Paolo Zavagna, professors of electronic music (and excellent hosts) in Venice. I’d be hard pressed to think of a more beautiful place than this to work for a week. Of course Gianpaolo worked with the saxophonists (there are limits to my saxo-phoney masquerades) while I worked with the electronic musicians.
We prepared a concert of Terry Riley (Dorian Reeds), James Tenney (Saxony) and my own breathing Charlie, from 2004. This was written for myself, to get me back onstage playing an instrument. It deliberately involved improvisation, again, as a way of forcing the issue—I’d been meaning to get (again, back) to improvisation for a number of years by that point, since my days at CCRMA back in ’96 in fact, when I was writing software and working on segmentation fault beta 1.1 with Marco Trevisani. breathing Charlie certainly helped towards that end, but it wasn’t really until my residency the following year, at the 2005 Mittersill Composers’ Forum in Austria, that I started improvising freely in earnest, more regularly, and in mixed groupings.
In Venice we presented breathing Charlie with four saxophonists simultaneously. The image above shows them rehearsing in the sumptuous concert hall of the conservatoire. It worked surprisingly well in that format, I must say. Two students of Massimo and Paolo worked the electronics with surprising alacrity and finesse. We finished the concert with my flung me, foot trod—Gianpaolo’s 37th performance of the piece, I believe, and the cause of my first meeting with Gianpaolo over Tagliatelle al Tartufo Nero in L’Aquila, back in 2000. (This time around the typically Venetian (but new to me) Bigoli in Salsa was a hit, along with old favourites Nero di Seppia con Polenta and the astounding Tramezzini (sandwiches) and Cicchetti peculiar to Venice.)