I was at the Cornelia St CafÃ© on a January Monday night to hear Jed Distler perform his Gold Standardâ€¦nothing to do with the golden section as I had mistakenly assumed, but everything to do with money, and funny tooâ€¦ a musical about a musician fundraising and working day jobs, staged by Arnold Barkusâ€¦.(in the early days of Island Magazine, in the mid-80s, Barkus has written about my Concerto for Piano and Orchestral Memoryâ€¦ and I hadnâ€™t heard about him since.). A couple of uptowners were ahead of me waiting to get into the cave where the performances take place, and the man says: â€œWow, this is the real underground, I was just initiated with a drop of water on my head from a leaking pipe on the ceiling!â€ We took our seats in the little room painted red and blue with gold mirrors (where is the basic black that was the norm in our rituals?). The tiny room was packed. It is possible that due to the long program presented by Composers Collaborative, some of these attendees may have been the musicians themselves, but it made it look like something was happening.
At the Chamber Music America Conference, Martha Mooke got sponsorship from Yamaha for her all-electric string ensemble, at the same time demonstrating the new Japanese-made instruments. Things seem to move forward a bit: Musical America is featuring The Bang on a Can All Stars and devotes its cover to the bold singer who took off her clothes at the Met in the role Salome. Show a little leg, as they always said in show biz. Everyone at CMA seemed quite busy and happy but unconcerned with other matters of the world, such as the Tsunami disaster which had just happened. I ventured a word or two about a benefit but to no avail. To think that the little Buddhist Monastery in Staten Island raised $108,000.00 for the victims, and that we, members of the underground, are powerless. I guess we have to leave it to the pop and movie people.
I may have to give up offering my services for a benefit. After 9/11 I released my CD S.O.S.W.T.C. almost immediately after the disaster, and was hoping to raise money for the Red Cross with it. I offered free copies to the Red Cross but they didnâ€™t know what to do with them. In 3 years I received one order for the CD and apologetically sent the promised $5.00 per CD to the Red Cross, and in turn they sent me little address labels with my name on it.. Meanwhile, the S.O.S.W.T.C. soundtracks are available free of charge on the Kalvos & Damian site for those who are interested. If anyone is wants to get a benefit together for the Tsunami victims, or for Save Tibet, which is my other favorite cause, please contact me through my web site www.elodielauten.net.
If you havenâ€™t seen How to Draw A Bunny, the John Walter documentary about Ray Johnson, the 60s artist who eluded everyone until after he died, (and the subject of my most recent opera Orfreo or the Orphic Death of Ray Johnson, from a libretto by Michael Andre), this is highly recommended. It made me nostalgic for the days when artists got to be artists, moving to the Lower East Side with $28.00 a month rents, and nothing much to do but being art, living art, hang out with pet ocelots or check out all the mail boxes in Brooklyn or make funny little cartoons with peopleâ€™s names on them and mail them out randomlyâ€¦. Those days are gone, when artists got to be artists. Now we have been brainwashed and shrunk, we have to be efficient little business people with our small business of creating. We have to make groups, organizations, make paperworkâ€¦ As a reaction, I see a craving for free improvisation and unstructured pieces.