The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts welcomed legendary vocalist Michiko Hirayama to campus on Monday to speak with students, faculty and others on music, her career and her work with Italian poet and composer Giacinto Scelsi.
The Tokyo-born and trained Hirayama, now in her 80s, moved to Rome in the 1950s, where she met Scelsi. The eccentric composer is best known for working with single notes, altered through microtonal oscillations. On Friday night, Hirayama makes her first LA appearance at REDCAT, performing Scelsi’s Canti del Capricorno—a 20-song cycle written expressly for her between 1962 and 1972.
In The Guardian (UK) review of the 2007 Canti del Capricorno CD release, critic Andrew Clements writes about both performer and composer:
One of the most famous of that committed group of musicians has been the singer Michiko Hirayama and her performance of the 20 Canti di Capricorno…Released in full for the first time on the Wergo disc, the cycle is totally compelling, with its fractured monodies, each obsessing around a single pitch or small group of notes, and punctuated in some of the numbers by drums, gongs, a wailing saxophone or recorder, creating a self-sufficient and unique sound world. In the massive trilogy for solo cello subtitled The Three Ages of Man, Scelsi focuses even more closely on the minutiae of sound, the inner details of a single pitch or timbre, often in a way that suspends all conventional notions of musical time.
At her concert at REDCAT, Hirayama will be accompanied by CalArts faculty members Amy Knoles on percussion and Ulrich Krieger on saxophone, CalArts alumna Aniela Perry on double bass, and CalArts BFA candidate Lydia Martin on percussion.
Here’s a video of Hirayama performing Scelsi at the 2008 Ravenna Festival in Italy:
Michiko Hirayama at REDCAT
Friday, April 2
Tickets: $20, students $16 and $10 for CalArts students, faculty and staff