Although the spring semester recently came to a close at CalArts, there is still a flurry of CalArtian activity occurring on campus and around the Los Angeles area. One summer event is The Dog Star Orchestra (Volume 6) new music festival, which took place from June 2 through June 12. The concerts were held in various locations around the Los Angeles area, including the Wulf, the Compound (CalArts composition faculty member Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s living and performance space in Lancaster, Calif.), Vasquez Rocks and CalArts’ own Wild Beast.
“The goal of The Dog Star Orchestra festival is to present recent experimental music over a fairly compact time period of two weeks in June,” says CalArts composition faculty member Michael Pisaro, who curates the series. “Since I’ve been at CalArts, it has always seemed to me that late spring and early summer was a good time to play a lot of new music that had accumulated over the year, within the context of some of the ‘classics’ of experimental music.”
The concert series’ name refers to the “Dog Star,” which typically appears in the early summer (hence the phrase “dog days”). Pisaro says that the series title is also a reference to one of his favorite films, Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man. “I’m a fan of Brakhage, but also associate him with one of the most inspirational figures in experimental music [and former CalArts faculty]: James Tenney,” adds Pisaro.
Now in its sixth year, the concert series brings together CalArts alumni composers and musicians with current students and other members of the experimental music community to share cutting-edge ideas. “As the festival has continued, it has become increasingly clear that a substantial community for this music exists here–which has CalArts alumni at its core.”
Below is an excerpt from Laura Steenberge’s (Music MFA 08) Elevator Music, which was performed on Concert #2 on Thursday, June 3, in The Wild Beast: