Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso of the Player Piano and Crises

MON, June 22, 2015
4 pm

Floor Three, Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater

Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso of the Player Piano (2012) by James Greeson. Running time: 57 minutes. 

A biographical overview of Nancarrow’s life and times, from his beginnings in Texarkana, Texas, and his years in Boston through his fighting in the Spanish Civil War and his emigration to Mexico. The film features interviews with his family members and those who were closest to Nancarrow during his career, including Yoko Nancarrow, Charles Amirkhanian, Kyle Gann, and Trimpin, among others. It also presents performance footage of his first published piano pieces, as well as a newly discovered set of two-part inventions he composed in his first years in Mexico performed at the Sacher Foundation in Basel, Switzerland by pianist Helena Bugallo. Other highlights include “live” performances of his powerful Studies #25, 3a, 37, and 21, his famous “Canon X.”

Merce Cunningham Crises (1960). Running time: 22 minutes
1961 film of a performance of Crises at the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College

First performed at the Thirteenth American Dance Festival in the summer of 1960, Crises was described by Cunningham as “an adventure in togetherness.” Choreographed for four women and one man, the dance focused on physical contact between the dancers. The physical entanglements came both through holding each other and being held, and through elastic bands, worn around a wrist, an arm, a waist or a leg, which connected the dancers in various positions. Cage noted, “This is a dramatic, though not a narrative, dance concerned with decisive moments in the relationship between a man and four women.” Conlon Nancarrow’s musical score reinforced the dance’s harsh atmosphere with an assortment of jangling rhythms, and Rauschenberg’s costumes were leotards in various shades of red, evoking the romance of the piece.
― David Vaughan

Part of Anywhere in Time: A Conlon Nancarrow Festival, co-curated by Dominic Murcott and Jay Sanders, Curator and Curator of Performance.

June 17, 22
4 pm 

Tickets for this program are required, and include the cost of admission ($22 adults, $18 seniors, free for members). Due to limited capacity, visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets in advance. Tickets may still be purchased online until two hours before the program begins. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

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