The evening consists of two works created specifically for Beacon Arts. Experimental music bagpiper Watson’s work revisits minimalism and uses processional movement as an inspiration for performance – a concept he calls “ambulant music” – and features Potts and Roper as well other well-known Los Angeles area musicians. The second piece, authored by Grubbs and designed for the trio of Watson, Grubbs, and Roden, consists of three ten-minute sections which explore the dynamic range of both the space and the instruments employed.
Described by the Los Angeles Times as completely unconventional, highly original and relentlessly inventive, David Watson’s use of the Highland Bagpipes has been an ongoing project since the early ’90s, with Watson remaking this traditional instrument into a vehicle for contemporary sound. Originally from New Zealand, Watson has been a key player in New York’s downtown scene since 1987. Watson’s unique body of work knits together experimental improvisation, 20th century guitar playing, and vernacular music. He has made the bagpipe an ideal instrument to explore particular spatial nuances of performance.
Originally a guitar player, Watson has been a regular performer in John Zorn’s classic Game Piece, “Cobra,” putting him amongst the best of New York’s downtown musicians. Along with Watson’s solo work, he has a long-standing collaborative trio Glacial with Lee Ranaldo and drummer Tony Buck. A partial list of recording and performing credits includes Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, Bang on a Can, Christian Marclay, Zeena Parkins, Andrea Parkins, Hans Tammen, Ikue Mori, Otomo Yoshihide, Rhys Chatham, and Anthony Coleman as well collaborations with numerous choreographers in New York, France and New Zealand on scores for dance. In addition to having appeared at virtually every venue for experimental music in New York, Watson has played in numerous international festivals, most recently at Cornelius Cardew / The Freedom of Listening (Portugal). His most recent CD, Fingering an Idea (released on Phill Niblock’s XI label) was described by the international music magazine The Wire as “magnificent …nobody has heard anything quite like this before.”
Associate professor in the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, CUNY, and director of the graduate programs in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA), David Grubbs has released eleven solo albums and appeared on more than 150 commercially-released recordings. He is known for his cross-disciplinary collaborations with writers such as Susan Howe and Rick Moody, and with visual artists such as Anthony McCall, Angela Bulloch, Cosima von Bonin, and Stephen Prina. Grubbs was a founding member of the groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has been known to play in The Red Krayola. He directs the Blue Chopsticks record label. He is currently completing the book Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, The Sixties, and Sound Recording for Duke University Press.
Grubbs was a 2005-6 grant recipient from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and has been called one of two “Best Teachers for an Indie-Rocker to Admire” in the Village Voice and “le plus Français des Américains” in Libération.