If you’re in the LA area this Sunday, and can spare 4 hours and then some (4 hours for the concert, then some for the commute and parking), 3 young musicians attending the Music Department at University of California, San Diego will perform Morton Feldman’s For Philip Guston.
While Feldman performances at UCSD are common enough, the sheer scale of For Philip Guston makes any production a rare event: 4 hours of late Feldman. Rachel Beetz will play flute (can you imagine playing a wind instrument for 4 hours with no breaks outside of the rests the composer gave you?), Dustin Donahue will play percussion (he has to stand for 4 hours), and Martin Hiendl will be the pianist (doubling on celesta). You can read an essay by Petr Kotik on the difficulties in performing this composition here.
I don’t know much about The Wulf, but readers will perceive it to be on the right track as a venue, presenting some of the far-out works on Michael Pisaro’s Dogstar Orchestra series this year.
Feldman always credited visual artists as having the biggest influence on his music: Rothko, Rauschenberg, Johns, and Guston. Guston’s daughter remembered Feldman thus:
Morty Feldman was a tall, heavyset man with a thick shock of almost black hair over an absent forehead, and eyes that were obscured by glasses with lenses like the bottom of a bottle… His morose, sardonic demeanor concealed a quick and biting critical intelligence. He was a man whose appetites more than rivaled my father’s They both loved to eat and drink and smoke, and they loved doing it together. The two men prowled the city for movies and good cheap restaurants. My memories of Morty have him stretched out and snoring on our wicker chaise, following some feast the two friends had shared.
Read more by Guston’s daughter, Musa Mayer, about Feldman and her father, here.
Philip Guston’s portrait of Morton Feldman may be viewed here.