media advisory artist's statement a short production history bruce odland & sam auinger the singers

R E Q U I E M   F O R   F O S S I L   F U E L S

at Judson Church
O+A performs with 8-channel “Orchestra of Cities” and singers
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Requiem for fossil fuels is a timely and deep meditation on the culture, its fascinations, and its future.

WHAT: O+A performs Requiem for fossil fuels with 8-channel “Orchestra of Cities” and singers;
WHERE: Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, in New York City;
WHEN: Friday & Saturday, October 19th & 20th, at 8:30 PM.

See it on YouTube

1. Introitus

2. Kyrie

3. Dies Irae

4. Offertum

5. Sanctus

6. Benedictus

7. Agnus Dei

8. Communio

Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger (O+A) will perform their composition, Requiem for fossil fuels, playing an 8-channel “Orchestra of Cities”, with Hai-Ting Chinn, mezzo soprano; Martha Cluver, soprano; John Young, tenor; and Joshua South, bass.

“There come times in life when the passing of great events requires formal acknowledgment to assist in their comprehension.  As we face the passing of our fossil fuel dependent way of life, we hope to gain insight by examining the sounds of our culture through the lens of the Requiem Mass.” — O+A

Materials for Requiem for fossil fuels come from O+A's “alphabet of sounds”. This collection of recordings is the result of an ongoing search for a “Hearing Perspective” of the sounds we make as a culture. Each section of Requiem for fossil fuels uses a location recording and its real-time flow as a cantus firmus. Over this cantus firmus, or baseline song, come soloistic voices of helicopters, jets, traffic, busses, horns, train wheels, footsteps of commuters, sirens: the found “Voices” of a fossil fueled culture organized as music. O+A have constructed this playable digital orchestra of extraordinary sonic voices extracted from cities around the world.

Requiem for fossil fuels is the culmination of twenty years of work by Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger, listening to and intervening in urban soundscapes. In 2004, Odland and Auinger presented an early version of their Requiem for fossil fuels at the SophienKirche in Berlin as part of Inventionen Festival.

Requiem for fossil fuels is presented by Ear to the Earth 2007 and produced by Electronic Music Foundation. Requiem for fossil fuels is sponsored by Austrian Cultural Forum NYC, Berliner Künstlerprogramm des Daad, Land Oberösterreich, This project was commissioned by Harvestworks with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, Österreichisches Bundesministerium Für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur, Ske & Austro Mechana, Stadt Linz.

Contact: Mary-Ann Greanier, 508.369.1787,

For more information:
Ear to the Earth 2007:
Electronic Music Foundation:

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Artist’s statement
Bruce Odland remembers…

Sam and I met at the Ars Electronica Festival in 1987. From our first major work together in 1990, “Garten der ZeiTraume” (Garden of Time-Dreaming), we were forced to deal with the actuality of the sound world around us.

In honor of the city’s 400th anniversary, we were in Linz, Austria, to make a large sound cosmology at the castle on the hill, where the astronomer, Johannes Kepler, had written his brilliant work, “Harmonices Mundi”, all those years ago. We wanted to create an atmosphere of sound around the castle in which the visitors could feel like they were falling backward and forward in time. We wanted to create orbits of sounds around the castle for the orbits of the planets. But we had a problem. Whenever you closed your eyes, the passing cars on the nearby streets screamed “1990, 1990, 1990”. The noise would not let you dream, but kept you fixed in the cruel audio time of NOW. So, we created a “moat” of transformed sound around the castle; capturing and electronically transforming the din of cars, softening what was heard with the sounds of fire, water, earth, air. Within this modified sonance, the mind could dream of other centuries and imagine being part of them.

In 1992, Sam and I were making a piece with Peter Erskine in Trajan’s Forum in Rome. That proud and ancient architecture had become, over the years, a band shell for Vespas and cars rattling by on a busy street. The fossil fueled present day soundscape had overwhelmed the architectural forms of slave-powered Rome. We decided that we could not, in all good conscience, cover this reality with feel good muzak, even of an avant garde variety. We had to deal with this primary sound material of our time: traffic.

Almost out of desperation, while exploring the site we dropped a microphone into one of the amphorae — giant clay vessels — that had been used as Roman shipping containers. The sound within was like all the bells in Rome were ringing and making a beautiful sound. This was the trapped air inside the amphorae resonating in response to the traffic. We had found a way to transform lead into gold, noise into music. So our installation used the melodic resonance of the amphorae and played it back in real-time at the site through specially designed speakers, all solar powered. This melodic version mixed with the live sources, resulting in an atmospheric change in the emotional landscape at the Forum. Since that time, we have been developing tools to make our cultural noise melodic. We see this activity as pushing the envelope from chaos towards harmony.

Now, twenty years later, we have made more than twenty such installations in various cities round the world: creating fields of harmony where there was chaos; re-tuning city environments to make them more humane; and re-training our own ears and brains to listen deep into the heart of our cultural noise. We have sought out the meaning of this noise, discovering information and beauty inside it, as well as the sound of tremendous pain: the cry of dislocation, the howl of the daily commute. We have noticed that the sound of the human voice has increasingly disappeared from our soundscape, buried by the mainly-accidental by-products of fossil fueled economy. We have observed the tyranny of a visually obsessed culture that plans and pays for each of its millions of images, but has no idea what and why its noise is. Sam and I have created an alphabet of these sounds as we learn to speak in the language of sounds generated by our culture.

Requiem for fossil fuels is the result of this process. We have used the form of the Requiem Mass as a spiritual lens, and with it we have extracted sounds from the entire output of our work and our recordings of dozens of cities. These will form an orchestra of noise and order — an “orchestra of cities” — played live by O+A into an 8-channel mix, which will resonate in the acoustics of the Judson Church. Against this orchestra of noise we have scored the words of the Mass for four extraordinary singers, who will sing acoustically at the center of the church. Sometimes they will be buried, as are we all, in the cities’ roar. Sometimes they will sing the songs of our victorious machines. All in all, we hope to enact this spectacle in order to listen to who we are and what we have become.
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A short production history of Requiem for fossil fuels

Requiem  for fossil fuels uses the form of the Requiem Mass to extract musical resonances from various cities of the world and recompose them in a formal historical structure. These sonic holographic resonant images are played back in "cathedral sound space" through an 8-channel sound system.  Extreme detail, editing, and attention to spatial and phenomenological aspects of the sounds follow the spiritual guidelines and text of the Requiem. This lays bare the sounds of our culture and how we use fossil fueled power.

In 2004, O+A presented an early version of their Requiem for fossil fuels  at the Sophienkirche in Berlin as part of Inventionen Festival, to considerable acclaim. They will present the fully-integrated and re-composed version of this installation/performance in New York City, October 19th and 20th, as part of the second Ear to the Earth Festival, produced by Electronic Music Foundation.

For the first time, this piece will include all parts of the Requiem Mass, including a new Sanctus created from sounds of the helicopter landing pad near Wall Street. O+A will perform Requiem fff live, in an 8-channel mix, with four singers led by acclaimed mezzo-soprano Hai Ting Chin. Thus, the “orchestra” of city resonances will be heard against four un-amplified voices and the words of the Requiem Mass.

The New York City venue:
Judson Memorial Church is an important venue in New York City as the site of much socially conscious and artistic activity (  Electronic Music Foundation will host a series of events again this year at Judson Memorial Church, where last year’s Ear to the Earth Festival was sponsored by EMF "to inspire sensitivity to our natural and human environments through sound and foster engagement in environmental issues". We hope to continue this discussion with the presentation of  Requiem fff.

Orchestra of Cities:
Materials for Requiem fff come from O+A‘s “alphabet of sounds”.  This collection of recordings is the result of an ongoing search for a “Hearing Perspective” of the sounds we make as a culture.  Each section of Requiem fff uses a location recording and its real-time flow as a cantus firmus.  Over this cantus firmus, or baseline song, come soloistic voices of helicopters, jets, traffic, busses, horns, train wheels, footsteps of commuters, sirens: the found “Voices” of a fossil fueled culture organized as music. O+A have constructed this playable digital orchestra of extraordinary sonic voices extracted from cities around the world Against and sometimes with this “Orchestra of Cities” are human voices of the singers and the text of the Requiem Mass.

Cultural Noise into Music:
For more than twenty years, the prime material for the work of O+A has been the transformation of our cultural noise into music. When they make large scale sound installations in public spaces, their starting point is the basic environmental soundscape of the site. Architecture, history, acoustics, and social dynamics of a given space are taken into account. Often there is a large discrepancy between the visual and sonic aesthetic. A carefully planned visual aesthetic of serenity, focus, and power can easily exist within the sonic chaos of cars, helicopters, muzak, and emergency sirens.

O+A has developed a set of compositional tools to sculpt and transform our sonic environment. These special resonators, digital filters, speakers, matrix mixers, etc. allow them to work on-site with a their own kind of real-time music concert. They extract the harmonic material from city noise, filter it, shape it and play it back in the moment to transform the feelings, atmosphere, and sound design of that environment. They are able to extract the melodies and make the hidden voices hearable.

They do not import exotic sounds to the site. Instead they construct, deconstruct and amplify selected resonances found on that location. They use these existing sounds as the basic material and manipulate their overtone content in real-time to reveal their inherent harmonic structure. The compositionally chosen overtones of the collecting resonators (Tuning Tubes) are distilled and altered with digital resonance filters to produce a rich harmonious chord which transforms the perception of the space — enhancing its aesthetic value in profound and unexpected ways.

The whole history of their work can be heard reflected in Requiem fff, which uses sounds from their installations over twenty years and recontextualizes them in the form of the Requiem Mass. It is a statement about the sounds we make as a culture, how we use power, and the place of humans in that culture.

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Bruce Odland — sonic thinker, composer, and sound artist — is known for his large scale, public space sound installations which transform city noise into harmony, real-time.

In 2004, he and Sam Auinger (O+A) altered the harmonic mix of the World Financial Center Plaza using the moon, tides, harmonic tuning tubes, and cement loudspeakers ("Blue Moon"). For more than twenty years, they have changed the sonic character of public spaces around the world.

Odland’s many collaborations include work with Laurie Anderson, Dan Graham, Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Peter Sellars, Joanne Akailitis, Robert Woodruff, Tony Oursler, and Peter Erskine. He recently mounted an opera with the Wooster Group, which premiered and toured in Europe, and he worked with Michael Luck Schneider on an interactive art piece for the MCA in Sydney, Australia. He has contributed ideas and energy to projects in theatre, film, dance, public art, festivals, radio, and museums.

His "Sounds from the Vaults", a playable orchestra of virtual instruments for the Field Museum in Chicago, won the Gold Muse Award from the Association of American Museums. Recently his “I Feel Good” was part of a collaborative work DTAOT: COMBINE at the Whitney Biennial. Currently, he is researching and writing a book about hearing in the age of noise with Sam Auinger. His gallery installation, “Hearing Space”, is running at The Studio in Armonk, New York, from September 29th to November 11th, 2007.
Sam Auinger was born in Linz, Austria in 1956 and now lives and works in Berlin. Since the bgeginning of the 1980’s he has dealt intensively with the subjects of composition, computer music, psycho acoustics, and sound design.

Together with Bruce Odland, he founded O+A in 1989. Their central theme is a “hearing perspective”. Their projects include Garten der Zeitraume (Ars Electronica 1990, Linz), Traffic Mantra (at Trajan’s Forum in Rome, 1991), Sound Design for Peter Sellars’ The Persians (Premiere: Salsburger Festspiele 1993), Balance (Sonambiente Berlin 1996), Box 30/70 (beginning in 2000, Siemens, Berlin), Blue Moon (New Sounds New York, 2004).

He and Viennese composer and musician Rupert Huber have a longstanding musical friendship. As DAAD fellowship recipiants in 1997, they founded the media band berliner theorie. Auinger frequently works with composer Hannes Strobl (tamtam), choreographer Marguerite Donion and composer Class Willeke. After several joint projects, Sam Auinger, Dietmar Offenhuber and Hannes Strobl formed the artistic group stadtmusik in 2005.

Over the years Sam Auinger has received numerous prizes and awards for his work. Most recently he became the youngest artist to receive the Kultur Preis der Stadt Linz (2002) to honor his body of work, the daad-stipendium (1997) and the SKE Publicity Preis 2007.

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The Singers

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New York soprano Martha Cluver has been establishing herself as a prominent figure in the new music scene.She recently traveled to the Czech Republic for the Ostrava Days festival, where she performed Morton Feldman's opera Neither. Cluver "mastered the extremely difficult part with elegance and lightness and delivered an astonishing performance" and "brought the house to a tumultuous applause" (2007 Ostrava Days Festival News Letter).

An active chamber musician, Cluver has premiered and performed many demanding works by composers such as Milton Babbitt, John Zorn and Steve Reich. As a college student, Cluver studied viola performance at the Eastman School of Music (BM, 2003).

During her years at Eastman, Cluver became involved with Musica Nova (directed by Brad Lubman) and Ossia/Alarm Will Sound (directed by Alan Pierson) and began singing more and more. She performed many works as soloist and chamber musician, including George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children, where she was praised for being "endowed with a flexible voice and angelic tone, bringing a sense of radiant warmth and urgency to every note she sang" (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle). Cluver has recorded for Nonesuch, Cantaloupe, Sweet Spot, Tzadik and Soundbrush Records.
Mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn grew up in Northern California and holds degrees from the Eastman and Yale Schools of Music. At the Edinburgh International Festival this summer, she premiered the title role in The Wooster Group’s La Didone (music of Francesco Cavalli), for which “The Scotsman” called her “glorious, poised, and poignant.”

Operatic and musical theater credits include roles she premiered in Stefan Weisman’s Darkling, with American Opera Projects, and in Yoav Gal's Moshe at Merkin Concert Hall; Lady Thiang in The King & I on London’s West End; Dido in Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell) with Rebel Baroque Orchestra; Bradamante in Alcina (Handel); Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking (Jake Heggie); and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and the title role of The Little Prince (Rachel Portman) with New York City Opera’s educational touring company.

She has been heard as soloist with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, St. Luke’s Chamber Players, the Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Waverly Consort, the New York Collegium, Metropolis Ensemble, Sequitur, the Locrian Chamber ensemble, and the VOX Vocal Ensemble, and she has performed music of P.D.Q. Bach with Peter Schickele at Symphony Space and on A Prairie Home Companion.

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Tenor John Young has performed with many prestigious groups throughout Atlanta such as The Atlanta Opera, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus, the Savoyard’s Musical Theater company, Atlanta Lyric, Capitol City Opera, Opera Bel Canto, Roswell Lyric Opera, and Theater in the Square.

In 1996 John participated in the apprentice program with the Ohio Light Opera Company and in 1998 he made his professional debut with the Atlanta Opera as Giuseppe in Verdi’s “La Traviata”. In 2000 he made his Atlanta Symphony Orchestra debut in Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins” with Broadway soprano Audra McDonald. His many oratorio performances include soloist in Mozart’s “Requiem”, Bach’s “Magnificat”, Schubert’s “Mass in G”, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah”, and Hayden’s “The Creation”.

He has recently performed Rodolfo in Puccini’s “La Boheme” with the Peachtree Repertory Opera. John was the winner of the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Counsel Auditions for the state of Georgia. Since moving to New York last year John has performed as a soloist with Trinity Episcopal Church, The Wooster Group, New York Opera Forum, and Regina Opera.
Joshua South, bass-baritone, made his Avery Fisher Hall solo debut with the American Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Leon Botstein, and a New York City debut with Kent Tritle in the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series.

He appeared at Brooklyn Academy of Music in the critically-acclaimed staging of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, directed by Sir Jonathan Miller; his role as Peter was described as "unforgettable" by the New York Times. He was also in the New York premiere of Elliot Goldenthal's Grendel, under the direction of Julie Taymor as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. In the 2006-2007 season Joshua appeared in the American premiere of Sir Paul McCartneys latest oratorio Ecce Cor Meum, at Carnegie Hall. He was also a member of the Servants' Chorus in a semi-staged production of My Fair Lady, starring Kelsey Grammer, Brian Dennehy, and Kelli O'Hara, with the New York Philharmonic.

Joshua is active as an ensemble singer throughout the New York City area. Ensemble credits include engagements with the New York Choral Artists, the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, Temple Emanu-El, and Concert Chorale of New York. He serves as a soloist and cantor at the Cathedral of St. Patrick, which is broadcast nationally on Sirius Satellite Radio. Joshua has been seen on the big screen in The Notorious Bettie Page; television credits include PBS Live from Lincoln Center, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Good Morning, America. If you look hard enough, you may just see him in the background of various featured films and TV shows.

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