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Nameless Sound was established in 2001 to present the best of international contemporary music and to support the exploration of new methods in arts education

Nameless Sound presents concerts by premier artists in the world of creative music. In addition, Nameless Sound artists work directly with students from Houston’s public schools, community centers, and homeless shelters. Nameless Sound’s educational work helps to nurture a new generation of artists and inspire tomorrow’s creative thinkers

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Arts Houston

Sound Observations
concert series

Michael Pisaro
co-presented with Rice University's Shepherd School of Music and Rice Public Art

Roscoe Mitchell 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014





James Turrell
Twilight Epiphany Skyspace

located adjacent to the
Shepherd School of Music
6100 Main St, Houston
TX 77005

In the event of rain, the concert will take place on
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014.


West Lot 1

ALTERNATIVE LOTS (in case West Lot 1 is full):
Central Campus Garage Visitor Parking
(Entrance #20 off Inner Loop, under Jones School)
North Lot Visitor's Parking
(Entrance #20 off of Rice Boulevard
Greenbriar Lot
(West of Football Stadium near the corner of University and Greenbriar)

Violet Transmission (Grey Series No. 4)
for electric guitar, noise and sine tones (2014) by Michael Pisaro - performed by Michael Pisaro

Slices for Cello and Prerecorded Orchestra
(2011) by Alvin Lucier - performed by Charles Curtis
New York Counterpoint (1985) by Steve Reich - performed by Richie Hawley

Michael Pisaro (Los Angeles
electric guitar, noise, sine tones

Charles Curtis (San Diego): cello
Richie Hawley (Houston):

Nameless Sound’s Sound Observations series presents foremost artists in the world of creative music paired with some of Houston's distinctive and renown art spaces. The feature events of this edition will be composer Michael Pisaro’s premiere of a new work commissioned for James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace on April 22nd, and Charles Curtis’ performance of Éliane Radigue’s Naldjorlak I at the Rothko Chapel on April 24th. 

On the first evening of this two-night series, Nameless Sound and the Shepherd School of Music will present three performances at the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, all utilizing The Skyspace’s 12-speaker surround sound system (the only Turrell Skyspace to feature a speaker installation). Pioneering cellist Charles Curtis (featured performer on the second night of this series) will perform experimental composer Alvin Lucier’s Slices for Cello and Prerecorded Orchestra (2011). Critically acclaimed musician and Rice University Professor of Clarinet Richie Hawley will perform Steve Reich's minimalist classic New York Counterpoint (1985). The evening will conclude with composer/performer Michael Pisaro’s Violet Transmission (Grey Series No. 4) for electric guitar, noise and sine tones. The Pisaro composition, commissioned by The Shepherd School of Music and Nameless Sound, is the first piece to be commissioned and specifically conceived for the Skyspace’s speaker system.   

The artists and composers featured in this series were specially chosen for the spaces in which they will perform. Sound Observations pairs music and environment so that each can enhance and offer new context to the other.   

Like many artistic categories, “experimental music” has somewhat lost its meaning through decades of overuse and misuse. It’s been broadly assigned to practices to which it would never have originally been applied. And though John Cage was a revolutionary whose work and ideas made so much possible in the work of others, there are relatively few (especially in the academic world) who have continued in the truly experimental tradition established by the likes of Cage and Christian Wolff.

Composer and guitarist Michael Pisaro would be at the top of a list of current composers who can accurately be called “experimental.”
The immense clarity of his compositional vision is kept in focus, in spite of the wide range of compositional techniques used to realize his scores.  Traditional notation, text and graphs may be employed, depending on what a particular situation calls for. The equally wide range of content (field recordings, electronically produced sine tones, traditional acoustic instruments) results in music with consistent concerns, such as the inseparable relationship of form, materials, sound and time. The frequent use of (often very long) silences and (often extremely) quiet sounds are even clearer indicators of the central role played by the environment in his work.  The sounds of the outside world are integral elements in his practice, as they freely creep into and out of his compositions.  In addition to the work of Cage, the role of the environment might have its closest relation to the work of James Turrell.

Since the early 90’s, Pisaro has been a member of Wandelweiser, a composers’ collective with a common interest in Cage and the use of silence in music. Since 2000, he has been on the composition faculty at the California Institute of the Arts. Previous to that, he served on the Faculty at Northwestern University.  

The Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, designed by visual artist James Turrell, opened in June 2012. The pyramidal structure accommodates 120 people between two levels. The Skyspace is acoustically engineered to host musical performances and to act as a laboratory for music school students. Constructed of grass, concrete, stone and composite steel, the structure is equipped with an LED light sequence that projects onto the ceiling and through an aperture in the 72-foot square knife-edge roof just before sunrise and at sunset. Turrell's composition of light compliments the natural light present at twilight, and transforms the Skyspace into a locale for experiencing beauty and reflective interactions with the surrounding campus and the natural world. 

For more information
Charles Curtis
Richie Hawley
Alvin Lucier
Michael Pisaro
Shepherd School of Music
James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace