Mellified Men Quartet Performs Week-long Stockhausen Composition

At Calarts, Interim is a two-week period in January set aside for students to explore specific topics in greater depth than a semester’s workload typically allows. This past Interim presented an ideal opportunity for the CalArtian trombone quartet, The Mellified Men, to tackle an ambitious project: to perform the complete score of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Aus den sieben Tagen (From the Seven Days) in the Institute’s Main Gallery.

The meditative, improvisational piece began on midnight, Jan. 18, and continued through Jan. 24. The marathon composition was inspired by a traumatic week in 1968 when Stockhausen returned to his home after attending a premiere to find that his wife had left him, taking their daughter with her.

The trombone quartet formed during the fall semester, and is the first ensemble to attempt a performance of the piece in its entirety. Per the score’s instructions, the quartet slept on the floor of the main gallery during rests in the music, and did not eat for several days as their friends and colleagues continued their daily activities around them.

“It was an experience that I will always be proud of,” says Kevin Austin, one of the quartet’s members. “For the first musicians to attempt this piece in its entirety, it was very difficult mentally and physically. But in the end, I’m really glad that we did it.” Austin says that Arrival, one of the last sections of the piece, inspired him to continue his studies of new music. “I poured my soul into that piece,” he says.

This spring the ensemble plans to perform a new work by Austin, one element of which is 48 pounds of honey.

Above is a video excerpt of the group (Austin, Tony Rinaldi, Adam Dippre and Tyler Jordan) performing High & Low. Featured in the video are fellow CalArts students Nils Jannson playing “Man,” Ellen Reid as “Child” and Shelly Suminski as “Woman.”

Read more about the performance of Stockhausen’s piece in a recent article published by Santa Clarita’s newspaper, The Signal.

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