First performance of this arrangements: New York City, September 1999 - Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet; Ethel (aka Hazardous Materials) - Todd Reynolds & Mary Rowell, violins; Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello
Recording: Ethel (Cantaloupe) 2003 - Evan Ziporyn, bass clarinet; Todd Reynolds & Mark Rowell, violins; Ralph Farris, viola; Dorothy Lawson, cello
My earliest goal in life - formulated during a 1968 trip to San Francisco with my parents - was to be a hippie. My family drove our Ford Country Squire from Chicago, we went to Haight-Ashbury to gawk, and I was hooked. At age 13 I spent a week at my aunt's Ann Arbor commune and my aspirations were confirmed. Only later was this replaced by the marginally more respectable goal of writing music. The two remain intertwined: anything I've done that was musically worthwhile was made possible by the 60s. Everyone who was anyone was reaching out to non-western music - not just Stockhausen and the Beatles, but also B.J. Thomas and the Partridge Family - all 'went raga' at some point or another. Much of my work is built around the anomalies and contradictions of cross-cultural exchange, but in this piece there are no such problems: gestures from a variety of genres are combined as if all that were needed to make them get along were good will and positive energy. Would that it were so...
The original version of Be-in was written very quickly, for a group called "Evan and the All-stars," which gave a single performance in Hartford, in 1991. I had only recently gotten my first computer – a MacPlus with a 20MB external hard drive – and this was one of the first pieces I didn’t notate by hand. Surprise surprise, the system crashed, I lost everything, so what exists now is an enhanced memory of the piece I originally wrote. It has had several other incarnations, re-orchestrated for the Michael Gordon Philharmonic, for a baroque-folk consort, for string orchestra, for clarinet choir, and for the Bang on a Can All-stars. The C-drone that starts the piece is homage to Terry Riley and to the late violist John Lad, who played it dozens of time, and who was himself a participant in the original 'be-in,' in San Francisco on January 14, 1967, the official start of the Age of Aquarius.