THE RELACHE CHRONICLES is a podcast about musicians residing in what we call “the Margins of American Music.” In these 30-to-45-minute episodes, we’ll play recordings – primarily by The Relache Ensemble from Philadelphia – of complete musical works plus commentary by composers, performers, and others with insight to the music. Throughout the podcast, we’ll discuss the guest composers’ processes, how they utilized current and past technologies and how the acoustical properties of a given space informed the creation and performance of a musical work. Finally, we will discuss how the composers’ relationship with the musicians brought the music to life. The first set of five episodes feature the music of John Cage and Robert Ashley, Joe Kasinskas, Pauline Oliveros, Guy Klucevsek, and Eve Beglarian. THE RELACHE CHRONICLES is produced, edited, and recorded by Joseph Franklin, Arthur Stidfole, and Joe Kasinskas. Throughout their careers, they have been performing musicians, composers, executive and artistic directors, radio hosts and authors, dedicated to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Episodes So Far
Episode No. 1 – The Relache Ensemble. Beginning with a brief history of the ensemble through commentary by Joseph Franklin, Arthur Stidfole, and Joe Kasinskas, they reminisce about the ensemble’s early days in Philadelphia and how the name “Relache” was chosen. The musical works featured are “Forever and Sunsmell” by John Cage and “She Was a Visitor” by Robert Ashley, both performed by the Relache Ensemble.
Duration is 34’12.”
Episode No. 2 – Joe Kasinskas. One of the more dynamic works in the Relache Ensemble’s extensive catalogue of site-specific performances is titled “Echoes in Palindromes” by composer Joe Kasinskas. Following a carefully scripted graphic score, four performers move throughout a performance space playing notated musical palindromes amidst reverberant echoes, the result of audio-playback procedures while two “microphonists” follow their movements in search of the resonant frequency of the room. Part dance, part ritual, part dream, this work is an intuitive leap toward sonic truth. Duration is 33’10.”
Episode No. 3 – Pauline Oliveros “The Well.” This is a major work by the pioneering composer, sound artist and activist, Pauline Oliveros. Created in collaboration with dancer-choreographer, Deborah Hay, and the Relache Ensemble while in residence at the Yellow Springs Institute for the Arts and Humanities in Chester Springs, PA, “The Well” has been performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan, and South America by Relache and recorded on Hat Hut Records. The podcast team discusses how “The Well” was developed and shaped in collaboration with Pauline and Deborah, with assistance from Guy Klucevsek, who was an original member of the Relache Ensemble. Duration is 34’34.”
Episode No. 4 – Guy Klucevsek. Two works by the eminent accordionist-composer, Guy Klucevsek are featured. “Oscillation No. 2” is performed by pianist Jenny Lin and “The Flying Pipe Organ of Sian” is played by the Relache Ensemble. Guy Discusses these works with the podcast team, at times playing examples on the accordion. Guy is an innovate accordion virtuoso who has created multiple works for that instrument while commissioning numerous others by composers from throughout the world. He has composed music for dance, theater, and ensembles world-wide and has performed as a solo and ensemble accordionist throughout the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Duration is 50’38.”
Episode No. 5 – Eve Beglarian. Three works by composer and media artist Eve Beglarian titled “Fresh Air,” “Machaut in the Machine Age,” and “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” performed by the Relache Ensemble and the MATA Ensemble are featured. Throughout her extensive composing career, Eve has collaborated with numerous performers – poets, theater artists and directors, choreographers, and visual artists – to create works in a variety of media, including her long-term project named Book of Days. Listen as Eve and the podcast team discuss her career and how each of the works performed were created. Duration is 49’30.”
Episode No. 6 – Fred Ho. Baritone saxophonist, composer, band leader, recording artist, writer, and social activist, Fred Ho was a prodigious artist who created a large body of works for the concert hall and theater. By integrating Chinese folk songs and music from an African American diaspora, Fred created a unique and dynamic artistic legacy. Among the music in his legacy is titled “Contradiction Please! The Revenge of Charlie Chan,” composed for The Relache Ensemble. It was the first work that Fred composed for an ensemble other than for one of his own groups, The Afro-Asian Music Ensemble and The Monkey Orchestra. His passing at 57 in 2014 has left a void in American Music. We hope this episode will rekindle an interest in Fred Ho’s music. Duration is 45:06.
Episode No. 7 – Phill Niblock. As the founding director of the Experimental Intermedia foundation, Phill Niblock has presented hundreds, if not thousands of concerts at his space in downtown New York City. As a composer, he has created numerous musical works for performing ensembles worldwide. As a film maker, he has made films that have been shown at festivals throughout the world, often accompanied by his music. Recently, we interviewed Phill to discuss a work of his titled “Not Untitled, Knot Untied, Old” that was created for the Relache Ensemble, and performed by Relache in 1984 in Philadelphia. Duration is 33:45.
Episode No. 8 – Romulus Franceschini. Composer, arranger, music editor and assistant curator at the Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral music in Philadelphia, Romulus was raised in the vibrant Italian American community in South Philly where absorbed the rich classical music that was ever present in Philadelphia, while absorbing the equally rich jazz inflected music of the mid-twentieth century. He studied cello and French Horn; served in a U.S. Army Band in occupied Japan; studied composition and theory with Vincent Persichetti after returning from the service; studied with Stephan Wolpe and Morton Feldman in New York City; made numerous arrangements for jazz musicians in Philadelphia, including Calvin Massey and John Coltrane, and wrote music for chamber ensembles, voices, and soloists. As an editor at the Fleisher Collection, he was prominent in analyzing the draft and extracting the instrumental parts of Charles Ives’ Fourth Symphony, working in collaboration with conductor Leopold Stokowski, who premiered it in 1964. As Romulus said of himself, “I’m an eclectic composer.” His “eclecticism” was immensely valuable to the growth and maturity of the Relache Ensemble, for whom he served as a guiding force for all things musical. Romulus passed away in 1994. This episode of the Relache Chronicles celebrates the life and music of Romulus Franceschini. Duration 41:12.
Episode No. 9 – New Music America 1987 – Philadelphia. In 1979, a group of composers, performers, video artists, producers, presenters, and other experimental artists met at The Kitchen, a renowned Downtown NY performance space to present a festival named New Music New York. The following year in Minneapolis, The Walker Art Center produced and presented a festival based on New Music New York that they called the New Music America Festival. For the following 9 years New Music America Festivals were held in a different city each year, produced, and presented by a local arts organization. In 1987, the festival was produced and presented by the Relache organization in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia. Over a 10-day period, concerts, installations, videos, parties, and a seminar called “Talking Music” was presented at venues throughout the city. The Relache Chronicles will reflect upon these events, beginning with Episode 9, New Music America Festival 1987 – Philadelphia.