Maryanne Amacher was a composer of large-scale fixed-duration sound installations and a highly original thinker in the areas of perception, sound spatialization, creative intelligence, and aural architecture. She is frequently cited as a pioneer of what has come to be called “sound art,” although her thought and creative practice consistently challenges key assumptions about the capacities and limitations of this nascent genre. Often considered to be part of a post-Cagean lineage, her work anticipates some of the most important developments in network culture, media arts, acoustic ecology, and sound studies.
Amacher’s 1991 piece Petra was originally commissioned for the ICSM World Music Days in Boswil, Switzerland. Written for two pianos, Petra is a unique example of Amacher’s late work, a direct extension of her working methodologies for electronic compositions taken into an acoustic realm that alludes to the music of Giacinto Scelsi and Galina Ustvolskaya. The piece is a sweeping, durational work based on both Amacher’s impressions of the church at Boswil and science-fiction writer Greg Bear’s short story of the same name, in which gargoyles come to life and breed with humans in a post-apocalyptic Notre Dame.
Blank Forms presents the American premiere of Petra in New York with Marianne Schroeder, who originally performed the piece alongside Amacher in 1991, and Stefan Tcherepnin, who performed it alongside Schroeder in 2012 at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. Like much of Amacher’s work, a performance of Petra is not as straightforward as it might appear—there is no definitive score but rather a series of fragments and working notes left to be deciphered. This third ever performance is an expanded version based on a newly discovered notes and scores from the Maryanne Amacher Archive.
Artistic director of the Giacinto Scelsi Festival in Basel, Marianne Schroeder is a Swiss composer and pianist specializing in the interpretation of New Music. She has collaborated with and premiered work by John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Dieter Schnebel, Anthony Braxton, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros and Giacinto Scelsi, with whom she studied. She is currently a professor at Hochschule der Künste Bern, and has also taught at the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt.
Stefan Tcherepnin is an American electronic music performer, contemporary artist, and composer in fourth generation, continuing the family heritage of his great-grandfather Nicholas, grandfather Alexander, and father Ivan Tcherepnin. As a family friend of Amacher’s and a student of hers at Bard College he is uniquely qualified to navigate the labyrinth of Amacher interpretation.
With kind support from the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, Yamaha Artists Services and The Tin Man Fund. Bösendorfer 280VC concert grand pianos are provided by Yamaha Artist Services, New York.