Gates of Justice

Each year the U. of Michigan holds a symposium in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In lieu of class, students are encouraged to attend events ranging from lectures to community service. In honor of MLK day this year, this short documentary about the 2001 recording session of Dave Brubeck’s oratorio The Gates of Justice (1969). The oratorio mixes jazz harmonies, African-American spirituals, Jewish cantorial singing, and orchestral music in a commemoration of freedom and justice. You get a sample if you watch the clip:

The rare 2001 recording of Gates of Justice was funded by the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Of the work, they write,

The Gates of Justice was composed during the tense atmosphere of the post-Civil Rights Era to help ease the enmity between Jewish and African Americans, but for Dave Brubeck the work’s message is much more universal. As he notes in this video, “this world could really disappear on us unless we really get down to believing in the original meaning of all the great religions and the brotherhood of man.”

Also of interest were Wynton Marsalis’s performance and words on today’s CBS This Morning.

Reimagining the Accordion

Digital accordion virtuoso Cory Pesaturo was interviewed this afternoon by Robin Young on Here and Now. (To listen, click here.) It’s a wonderful interview that will change the way you listen to accordion. (Not just polka anymore…) All performers of lesser-known instruments might sympathize. Here’s a few youtube clips that show just a bit of variety, starting with Pesaturo.

The boy accordion virtuoso (featured on boingboing) playing Bach’s Passacaglia in C Minor.

And an interview, with sound samples, of South American Chango Spasiuk.

And thanks to Brian, for the Renegade accordion! in NYC:

New York on the Clock: Nathan Stodola, Renegade Accordion from

A classic, of course, would be Pauline Oliveros.

The Phonoharp

Walter Kitundu received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 in part for his development of the phonoharp. What, you may ask, is that? Kitundu’s work as a sound artist and inventor of original musical instruments is described as negotiating

the boundary between live and recorded performance. Inspired by hip-hop, other modern musical forms, and traditional Asian and African instruments, Kitundu’s phonoharps are hybrids of turntables and stringed instruments. . . . The turntable’s pickup collects and amplifies any sound transmitted to it, allowing the performer to employ percussion and string resonance as well as digital manipulation, or sampling, of prerecorded material.

One of my favorites is certainly the rain-powered turntable . . . how amazing would it be to walk through the music-filled streets in a light rain?

Read more at his MacArthur bio or Web site.