30 Minutes spoke with Tucson composer Chris Black and ACLU Attorney Billy Peard about the upcoming Vexations marathon to raise money and awareness for ACLU of Arizona. Black is known for performing either as a solo double bassist or with a band, and he is the founder of the alt-classical chamber music concert series ChamberLab, currently in its seventh year. His vision is to invite local musicians to perform Erik Satie’s Vexations 840 times. Peard is the ACLU of Arizona’s bilingual staff attorney based in Tucson. He discussed local ACLU history as well as current local and national cases. There’s still time for musicians to sign up for this innovative event.
ChamberLab: Vexations Marathon to Benefit the ACLU
Who: ChamberLab, and whatever local musicians would like to join in, on any instrument!
What: A 16-hour performance of Erik Satie’s VEXATIONS
When: Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, 8:00 AM to Midnight
Where: Hotel Congress and Maynard’s Market
Why: To benefit the ACLU of Arizona
Learn More: www.vexathon.com
ONE SONG, 840 TIMES, FOR AMERICA
On Saturday, December 2nd, ChamberLab will attempt a marathon 16-hour performance of Erik Satie’s Vexations. This first-of-its-kind performance is open to musicians of all ages and skill levels, playing any instrument, and their efforts will support the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. It works like a charity walk-a-thon, but with music instead of miles.
Musicians are invited register online for a spot in the ensemble to play Vexations as many times as they possibly can. Meanwhile, people who wish to sponsor a musician can make pledges on a per-repetition basis, so the final contribution depends upon how long the performers can keep going. Sponsors may pledge for individuals, or for the ensemble as a whole. At the end of the performance, everyone’s totals will be tallied, and every dime raised will go to the ACLU of Southern Arizona.
The event will begin at 8:00 AM on the Hotel Congress patio, and at 8:00 PM they’ll march in grand style across the street to finish the evening on the Maynard’s patio. At a steady tempo, we should finish up around midnight.
Musicians can register online at www.vexathon.com, where they will also be able to download the sheet music appropriate to their instruments. Musicians sponsors can register and make their pledges at the same site.
WHAT IS VEXATIONS?
Vexations is a piece of music written by French composer Erik Satie in 1893. It’s only a little over a minute long, but Satie left a cryptic note at the top of the page suggesting that the piece should be played eight-hundred and forty times in a row. No one tried until 70 years later, when composer John Cage arranged a relay of twelve pianists for the task in 1963. It took them 16 hours! While several pianists have attempted the feat since then (and only some have succeeded), to our knowledge this full-ensemble arrangement is a first-of-its-kind performance.
Since 2010, ChamberLab has been bringing new music to different audiences in strange venues and from unexpected sources. ChamberLab is best known for its boundary-breaking collaborations, bringing artists of different media and backgrounds together, from music for silent films, to live-painting on stage with Joe Pagac, to brass and percussion music on the floor of the Rialto Theatre.
CHAMBERLAB Contact: Chris Black, [email protected]
Recorded and produced by Amanda Shauger.