Saturday, October 31, 2015

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
The sound art of Charlemagne Palestine

This week, our video lens is trained on Charlemagne Palestine, who will be in St. Louis next weekend to play two concerts presented by New Music Circle. Palestine will perform solo in both shows, playing piano on Saturday, November 8 at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in Grand Center, and then performing on the organ on Sunday, November 9 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard.

Born Chaim Moshe Tzadik Palestine in 1945 in Brooklyn, New York, Palestine studied at New York University, Columbia University, Mannes College of Music and California Institute of the Arts. A contemporary of Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley, he often is identified with them as a "minimalist" composer, and like them, many of his works rely in part on effects accrued through the repetition of short musical phrases.

However, he has publicly rejected the label of minimalism, saying in interviews that he prefers to be called a "sound artist" rather than a musician, and has used the term "gesamtkunst" - a 19th century German expression meaning "total art" - to describe his works that combine live performance with installations.

And indeed, while Palestine has released more than twenty solo albums and has performed in music festivals around the world, his work also has been exhibited frequently at major visual arts festivals and institutions, including the Venice Biennale in Italy, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Art Institute of Chicago, and many more. That work also frequently incorporates certain emblematic objects, such as stuffed animals, which serve as what Palestine calls "symbols of identification."

You can hear some of his music (and see examples of some of those totemic symbols) in today's videos, starting up top with some excerpts from a solo piano performance that Palestine did in November 2006 in Oslo, Norway.

After the jump, there are some excerpts from his show at the 2010 All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England. Then, there's a performance on church organ, recorded in April, 2012 at the Cathédrale de Nantes in Nantes, France, and seen here in three parts.

In the sixth and final video, you can see and hear a complete piano performance from last year at the Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna.

For more about Charlemagne Palestine, read this 1996 article from; Palestine's 2002 interview with Perfect Sound Forever; his 2013 interview with The Quietus; and the interview he did in the summer of 2014 with Bomb magazine.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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