Crossing 32nd Street, LINKS Ensemble, Christopher Shultis, percussion
Cover Art: Hee Sook Kim
Christopher Shultis: An Illusion of Desire
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Christopher Shultis, one of the world’s foremost experts on John Cage and American experimental music, presents his earliest compositions in this historical document, which chronicles his transition from percussionist extraordinaire to fearless composer. Three things motivated the creation of this profoundly spiritual music: Shultis’s tragic and still undiagnosed hand injuries, which forced him to stop playing all together, the personal connections he made with dozens of important composers through the ensemble he directed, and Shultis’s extensive research in American Studies.
After accepting the directorship of the percussion program at the University of New Mexico (UNM) at only 22 years old, Shultis created a nationally recognized ensemble that developed a reputation for flawless interpretational and technical performances of classics and experimental music. Through this ensemble, Shultis worked with dozens of prominent, pioneering composers mainly through the international symposium he organized for nearly all of its 30-year history. Once his hand injuries permanently sidelined his own international performance career, Shultis turned his attention to American literature, art, and music; eventually earning a doctorate from the UNM Department of American Studies while simultaneously serving as professor of percussion. As a world-class musicologist, he synthesizes the historical, philosophical, and aesthetic frames of mind that engender experimental music, which thus inspire his compositions. However, his music by no means attempts to emulate what he finds in his research. Shultis’s intensely original music conveys a sense of pain, perhaps from unrealized dreams, and a newfound revelation of a capricious world that denies personal destiny. This music is a spiritual journey from a man coming to grips with a need to re-define his musical identity while at the same time acknowledging the futility of the effort. There’s a paradoxical urgency to the time-laden openness of this music.
The album presents new recordings of five of Shultis’s early works as well as a downloadable remastered bonus track performed by Shultis himself in the late 1980s. The music is beautifully performed, recorded and produced by some of Shultis’s former students, musicians who premiered the works shortly after their composition. This lends to the recordings a rare deep understanding, aesthetic conviction, and authenticity. Shultis’s influence can be heard in the well-respected Crossing 32nd Street and LINKS Ensemble, which are both largely comprised of students trained by Shultis in his percussion studio or in the University of New Mexico Percussion Ensemble.
|Christopher Shultis||Oneiro (for percussion trio, 1988/1992) 18:12|
|Metaphysics (for solo voice and electronics, 1992) 10:42|
|4-7-3 (for percussion duo and electronics, 1989/2015) 25:21|
|Gesturing Hands (for solo theremin, 1992) 7:25|
|Friends (for crotales and piano, 1991) 9:04|
|Downloadable Bonus Track:||motion/less (for solo percussion, 1989) 9:08|