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UC Berkeley hosting "Tempo" festival featuring new technology, live performance as counterpart of biennial early music program
30 May 2001

By Kathleen Maclay

Berkeley - Following on the heels of last summer's successful run of the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition with its baroque flourishes, organizers of the "Tempo" festival at the University of California, Berkeley hope to draw artists and aficionados of cutting-edge, new technology music.

UC Berkeley's music department is teaming up again with the university's Cal Performances. This particular program partnership between Cal Performances and the department's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies, however, is producing a dramatically different sound than their early music offerings.

The June 1-9 Tempo festival features jazz and experimental works, ragas, electro-acoustic and even contemporary chamber music styles in performances that organizers say blur the lines between improvisation and composed music.

The idea of a new technology music festival -- to alternate every other year with the already established Early music festival -- was developed by David Wessel, director of UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technology, and Robert W. Cole, director of Cal Performances. "I've been talking about it for years," said Cole.

The Tempo festival in UC Berkeley's stately Hertz Hall will host live, collaborative performances by cutting-edge musicians in an effort to emphasize today's new audio and music technology.

"Tempo is a six-concert zig-zag of adventurous music," said David Wessel, a featured artist as well as the director of the multi-disciplinary research center within the campus's music department and the lead sponsor of the series. Performances will be stylistically diverse, but each evening will offer a common and strong focus on musical interaction, he said.

The program is closely connected to UC Berkeley's music department faculty and student research, development and study of music, Cole said.

"This music needs to be heard. It's important and it's interesting," said Richard Andrews of the center.

Financial supporters include the National Endowment for the Arts, Mutable Music (a private New York foundation that supports musical performance), the Consortium for the Arts at UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley's music department, the Cultural Service of the French Consulate in San Francisco, Gibson Guitar Corp., Apple Computer, Cycling74, Sherman Clay & Co. and Meyer Sound Labs.

Performing musicians will include:

* Steve Coleman and Five Elements kick off the festival on Friday, June 1. Coleman is a noted composer and saxophonist whose work covers a wide cultural and spiritual range, from Ghana, Cuba, Java and the Karnatic tradition of India.

Coleman, who recently joined the music faculty at UC Berkeley, is a noted composer and saxophonist. He is known as a leading figure in jazz and for incorporating computer technology in improvised music. He was featured in the recent PBS "Jazz" series. Tempo is "starting out where `Jazz' left off," said Michele Rabkin, associate director of the Consortium for the Arts at UC Berkeley.

* Roscoe Mitchell and Friends perform on Saturday, June 2. Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and the concert will feature new music baritone Thomas Buckner and new interactive works for computer-driven electronics by musician and computer installation artist George Lewis, percussionist George Marsh, and David Wessel.

* Edmund Campion, an internationally recognized composer who uses computer technology, performs on Tuesday, June 5. Campion also is an assistant professor of composition at UC Berkeley. The concert features noted Bay Area percussionist William Winant.

* Shafgat Ali Khan, an 11th generation singer of Indian classical music, joins David Wessel, Matthew Wright, and Ali Momeni to perform Wednesday, June 6 in a concert featuring live, interactive electronics.

* The Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players and conductor David Milnes on Friday, June 8 will perform new works by prominent young composers from around the world. Their performances will feature technology and virtuosity and trombonist Abbie Conant.

* A two-part concert with innovative guitar technologies developed at the center concludes the festival on Saturday, June 9. John Schott will perform solo guitar and electronics. Following him will be guitarist and ECM recording artist John Abercrombie, George Marsh on drums, Rich Fudoli on saxophone and Mel Graves on bass.

All concerts begin at 8 p.m. A festival pass is $75 for all six concerts, or admission is $15 at the door. Student discounts are available with a student ID. For tickets call 1-800-965-4827 or visit TicketWeb at