Sanctuary at The Salk Institute
11 October 2008
Dirk Sutro, UCSD Music, email@example.com
Doug Ramsey, Calit2, firstname.lastname@example.org, 858-822-5825
Amy Thomas, ArtPower!, email@example.com
Calit2 Composer in Residence Finds 'Sanctuary' at
the Iconic Salk Institute
San Diego, Sept. 16, 2008 -- Following a critically acclaimed premiere
last fall at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the epic
work "Sanctuary" by Roger Reynolds, Calit2's composer in residence at
UC San Diego, receives its West Coast premiere on Saturday, Oct. 11, 6
p.m., in the courtyard of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La
The West Coast premiere of 'Sanctuary' at the Salk Institute is the only
time Roger Reynolds' work has been performed in its entirety since the
world premiere at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. last
The Washington Post described the Pulitzer Prize winner's composition
as "a once-in-a-lifetime aural experience" featuring "waves of gorgeous,
purposeful, minutely detailed sound."
"Sanctuary" opens the 2008-09 season for UCSD's ArtPower!
performance series as part of an increased schedule of experimental
performance at venues including The Loft, the intimate new campus
hot spot for edgy performances.
Tickets are $25 and available online at 858.534.TIXS or at www.
artpower.ucsd.edu. Prior to the performance, a 4 p.m. tour of the Salk
Institute will give visitors an inside look at architect Louis I. Kahn's
Reynolds is collaborating on "Sanctuary" with engineers, computer
scientists and music technology professors. He is a member of UCSD's
music faculty as well as composer-in-residence in the UCSD division of
Calit2, which is co-producing the concert in the Salk Institute
courtyard together with ArtPower! and UCSD Department of Music.
With "Sanctuary," Reynolds says he is exploring the nature of
communication -- from primal utterance to song. This theme finds
expression in undulating ups and downs of "proto-melodies and novel
sonorities" that develop throughout the piece.
Composer Roger Reynolds (left) and percussionist Steven Schick
rehearse in the Calit2 Theater. Both are long-time Music faculty
members at UC San Diego.
Reynolds, who received the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1989 for his
work "Whispers Out of Time," chose the title "Sanctuary" because he is
captivated by the word's multiple meanings, which resonate especially
in this election year.
"A sanctuary can be a refuge, an asylum, a shelter from violence or the
penalties of law," Reynolds says in a program note. "The idea has deep
roots in many cultures. Ancient Greek temples offered sanctuary, and
the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, with its Oracle, was known throughout
the Mediterranean world. 'Sanctuary' continued through the Roman
Empire and into the Christian era. It is occasionally invoked today
around the globe, with recent examples in areas of sectarian strife and
immigration law challenges.
"However, there is another powerful dimension of 'sanctuary' beyond
protection: as a place of tolerance and privilege. In this sense,
sanctuary is a place safe for expression, for experimentation, for
revelation. Privilege also involves license: license to define boundaries,
to test them. My project creates a place of refuge for the quartet,
technicians and audience, and invites them to act on the privilege and
the license so created -- to reveal themselves and, in turn, to be
revealed, perhaps transformed."
The courtyard of the Salk Institute was designed by architect Louis I.
Kahn and remains one of the most iconic spaces in San Diego.
Reynolds composed "Sanctuary" for UCSD's resident percussion
ensemble red fish blue fish . The piece began in brainstorming
between Reynolds and red fish blue fish founder Steven Schick, also a
member of UCSD's music faculty. Schick suggested a piece that would
capitalize on the visual drama of percussion performance.
"It occurred to us that we were not only making sketches towards a new
work, but were in fact diagramming the brief but volatile history of
percussion as a serious medium in the canon of Western composition,"
Schick recalls. "We needed sonic diversity, so we drew composite
installations of multiple small instruments. Our discussion began to
include the sculpture of instrument design and the choreography of
performance. Finally, there was the word that has become a part of
almost every encounter and conversation I have with Roger: impact."
In the case of "Sanctuary," according to Schick, impact is realized not
only through staging and sound, but through the movements of
percussionists "striking, or rubbing, or buffeting sonorous objects"
such as wood blocks, cowbells, bongos and found objects including
bottles and bowls.
At the heart of "Sanctuary" is the second of three movements, "Oracle,"
in which an object chosen by the performers becomes a muse to whom
the percussionists pose "questions" in the form of percussive patterns.
In this case, the object of percussive attack and reverence is a large
metal cylinder removed from an old clothes dryer with metal rods
welded onto it.
Along with the ancient notion of an Oracle, "Sanctuary" ventures into
the future with its use of technology. During the performance, Schick's
hands are wired with sensors that send his rhythms to a laptop
computer. The sound is then processed through audio software created
by UCSD music faculty's Miller Puckette, and the results accompany
and interact with the performers, or are inserted later in the
Large parts of Movements I and III have now become real time
interactive,' meaning that the actions of the performing musicians not
only result in musical sounds, but also directly control what the
computer system is doing. In effect, the computer becomes an
additional 'performer' which 'listens' to what the
live musicans are doing and responds."
Reynolds has long been fascinated with intersections of innovative
music and architecture, art forms where he sees parallels. He has
composed works for Kenzo Tange's Olympic Gymnasium in Tokyo, and
Frank Loyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum in New York.
"Sanctuary" at Salk continues this interest. The building, designed by
architect Louis I. Kahn, is considered a masterpiece of modern
architecture. Its centerpiece is a wide courtyard that frames the ocean
view, with a narrow channel of water through the center leading the
eye toward the horizon. Admirers say the building has a mystical aura
as materials and forms change their appearance depending on light,
weather and seasons."
Reynolds admires the late Greek composer Iannis Xenakis, who began
his career in the office of famed French architect Le Corbusier. Xenakis
took a lead designing the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 World's Fair in
Brussels. The Pavilion combined exhilarating architecture based on a
form known as a hyperbolic paraboloid, with experimental film, and
music by composer Edgard Varese.
Reynolds was good friends with Xenakis, and he invited Xenakis to
UCSD in the 1980s to work with grad-level composers and performers.
Reynolds and his wife Karen are working on a book about Xenakis'
architecture. Xenakis even designed a home for the Reynolds for a
California desert site. This house was never built due to cost
Before becoming a composer, Reynolds earned a degree in engineering
from the University of Michigan, and in his scores, one can see his
interest in structures. The scores often take the form of diagrams that
represent the music in fascinating graphic forms.
"I'm known as a composer of music, but this role has a very broad
significance for me. I use sounds to respond to and to explore the world
around us: potentially any sound in any space. Clearly, it's not just
orchestras and concert halls that will determine the future of our
music," Reynolds says.
Roger Reynolds, Composer (UCSD Music)
Steven Schick, Percussionist (UCSD Music)
Miller Puckette, Designer, Max and PD software environments (UCSD
Ian Saxton, Project Programmer (UCSD Music graduate)
Current Members of red fish blue fish (UCSD Music, see note below)
Greg Stuart (UCSD Music)
Justin DeHart (UCSD Music)
Ross Karre (UCSD Music)
Fabio Oliveira (UCSD Music)
Former Member-participants: Rob Esler, Gustavo Aguilar, Don Nichols,
Josef Kucera, Recording and Sound Engineer (UCSD Music)
Trevor Henthorn, Systems Manager (UCSD Music)
David Curry, Consultation and Web Design (David Curry & Associates)
Pei Xiang, Qualcomm Engineer (Computer Music Research, Ph.D.
graduate, UCSD Music)
Jacob Sudol (Composition Program, UCSD Music)
Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), technical and
UCSD Department of Music, technical and logistical support
The Salk Institute Tour: $10
Purchase at the UCSD Box Office
By Phone: 858.534.TIXS
In Person: the UCSD Box Office, located in the Price Center Plaza
More information: www.artpower.ucsd.edu
A UCSD/UCI PARTNERSHIP > California Institute for
The Sanctuary Project
by Roger Reynolds