Twenty Answers

by Pamela Z

Twenty Answers is a work for 8 or more (or less) players and a magic oracle. As it was commissioned by the Empyrean Ensemble, its parts have been created with their instrumentation in mind (flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano and percussion) combined with the instrument of the composer (voice and electronics), but it can easily be adapted to any group of instruments. A work of ever-shifting melodic and rhythmic fragments– the piece nods to the memory of Cage with its heavy reliance on “chance operations” and its employment of silence and listening. Each player’s part consists of twenty events– the order and content of which are determined by answers generated by a fortune-telling device (the “Magic 8 Ball”). The idea for the piece came as an outgrowth of Ms. Z’s recent work exploring the binaries of “Yes and No” and the intriguing methods people have devised for divining answers to “Yes and No” questions. This piece recieved its premiere by the Empyrean Ensemble at UC Davis in January of 2008. It has also been performed by Canyonlands Ensemble at the University of Utah at SLC.

About Pamela Z:

Pamela Z is a composer/performer and media artist working primarily with voice, live electronics, sampled sound, and video. A pioneer of live looping, she processes her voice to create complex sonic layers. Her solo works combine experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, digital processing, and wireless MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound with physical gestures. In addition to her solo work, she has been commissioned to compose scores for dance, theatre, film, and chamber ensembles including Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, the Bang on a Can All Stars, Julia Bullock with SF Symphony, and the LA Philharmonic New Music Group. Her interdisciplinary performances have been presented at venues including The Kitchen (NY), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF), REDCAT (LA), and MCA (Chicago), and her installations have been presented at such exhibition spaces as the Whitney (NY), Savvy Contemporary (Berlin), and the Krannert (IL). Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. She has performed in numerous festivals including Bang on a Can (NY), Interlink (Japan), Other Minds (San Francisco), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), Dak’Art (Sénégal) and Pina Bausch Tanztheater Festival (Wuppertal). She’s a recipient of numerous awards including the Rome Prize, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Dorothea Tanning Award, United States Artists, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the Guggenheim, Doris Duke Artist Impact Award, Herb Alpert Award, an Ars Electronica honorable mention, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award. She holds a music degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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