Music inspired by mathematics and introduced at Dartmouth got an enthusiastic reception in its New York premiere on Friday, March 17.
Wrote New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini, “ Longitude was written for a six-piece ensemble (violin, viola, cello, clarinet, piano and vibraphone) and two-channel one-bit noise. But the electronic ‘noise’ Mr. Perich has created is strangely captivating. As the performers (members of the excellent American Contemporary Music Ensemble) played languid, dreamy strands of oscillating figures and sustained sonorities, the speakers emitted a constant background rush of crackling static, like the feedback from amplifiers, or crackling from an old radio when a station is not tuned in properly. In time the unnatural static seemed not an intrusion into the acoustic instruments, but an organic complement.”
Longitude premiered last May before a select audience of Dartmouth mathematicians as part of the Hop’s STEM Arts series. Perich and ACME spent the week of May 16-20 in a residency Dartmouth’s Mathematics Department, culminating in ACME’s performance of the Hop-commissioned work, which had been inspired by mathematical concepts. The project was funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works, and the Frank L. Harrington 1924 Fund No. 3, as part of ongoing Hop explorations into the connections between STEM fields–science, technology, engineering and mathematics–and music.
The week was built around dynamic encounters between Perich and ACME and students and faculty, both in and out of the Math Department, along with time to rehearse the complex and exacting musical work. Perich and ACME members spent time with students from the Math Society and Association for Women in Mathematics, the student society Casque & Gauntlet and the East Wheelock Residence Hall cluster. They also visited two sections of Prof. Andrea Kremer’s “Hazardous Data” course, a freshman seminar exploring how to be skeptical consumers of quantitative information; and brof. Peter Winkler’s “Math Beyond Calculus.”