Thursday, April 13, 2023

March 17: Charles Curtis (Professor of Cello, UC San Diego)

Presentation for composers

The Center for 21st Century is excited to report on the presentation of Charles Curtis, who is a Professor of Cello from University at California San Diego. Many thanks for his fabulous presentation, "Materialities of Realization" on the 17th of March.

Some background about him from UC San Diego’s website: 

Called by ArtForum "one of the great cellists" as well as "spellbinding and minimal," Charles Curtis has woven a unique career through the worlds of classical performance and musical experimentation. A student of Harvey Shapiro and Leonard Rose at Juilliard and the recipient of the Piatigorsky Prize, upon graduation Curtis was appointed to the faculty of Princeton University. Subsequently he was Principal Cellist of the NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, where he appeared as soloist with conductors such as Herbert Blomstedt, André Previn, Günter Wand, John Eliot Gardiner and Christoph Eschenbach. Curtis has been guest soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Janacek Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Winnipeg Symphony, Orchestra de la Maggio Musicale Florence, Orchestra del Teatro Communale Bologna, and orchestras in Brazil and Chile, among many others. 

For more than thirty years Curtis has been closely associated with the legendary avant garde composer La Monte Young. As soloist and as director of Young's Theatre of Eternal Music String Ensemble, Curtis has participated in more performances and premieres of Young's music than any other musician. He is one of the few instrumentalists to have perfected Young's highly complex just intonation tunings and is one of only a handful of musicians to have appeared in duo formations with Young. The La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela three-hour-long solo composition, "Just Charles and Cello in the Romantic Chord," for solo cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light projection, the only solo composition composed by Young for a performer other than himself, received performances in a variety of places.

Solo concerts in the last few years have taken him to Christchurch Spitalfields London, the Auditorium of the Louvre in Paris, the Hebbel-Theater in Berlin, the Kampnagelfabrik in Hamburg, Issue Project Room in New York, Disney Hall in Los Angeles, and to festivals, museums and alternative spaces in Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Canada.



One participant reported on the visit as follows: “Charles Curtis is justly recognized as one of the leading exponents of what may be termed something like the ars subtilior of the present-day.  During his visit, Curtis spoke of his close collaboration of 30-some odd years with Éliane Radigue and the central role that the acoustic phenomenon known as the “wolf” played as a catalyst in the realization of her piece, Naldjorlak

At Fitz Books on Saturday, Curtis, who is also an important interpreter of Alvin Lucier’s work, gave a performance of the composer’s Glacier, a work that traces a graph of the mean mass balance of 30 glaciers over a 24-year period, sonified as a slowly descending and only occasionally upwards-tracing glissando.  Also on the program was the Adagio from a three movement work by Dallapiccola, Intersection 4 by Morton Feldman, and Alison Knowles’ Rice and Beans for Charles Curtis.

Curtis’s conversation is marked by the same careful search for exactitude and subtlety in terminological matters that characterizes his musical realization as a performer.  In his talk at UB, Curtis also gave advance notice of his performance of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Just Charles & Cello in the Romantic Chord…, recently announced by Blank Forms for 2 & 4 June.”


  James Falzone, UB doctoral candidate in Composition


Charles Curtis - Ultra White Violet Light / Sleep

Saltern · Éliane Radigue – Naldjorlak (Los Angeles, 2020) (excerpt)Charles Curtis – Éliane Radigue – Naldjorlak (Los Angeles, 2020)

Charles Curtis – Éliane Radigue – Naldjorlak (Los Angeles, 2020)

Bach: Solo Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major (BWV 1009)-- Bourrees
Charles CurtisBach: An Imaginary Dance • 2012 



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