Saturday November 18, 2006, 6 p.m.

erratum musical # 3 & 4
Gabriele Bonomo, curator

Esther Ferrer
Tom Johnson

Borgovico 33 will be hosting a double event: a performance by Spanish artist Esther Ferrer — who asserted her authority and international reputation since the end of the Sixties, after joining the Zaj Group —, and a concert by American composer Tom Johnson — the historical herald of a rational and systematic approach to the laws of minimal music — who will perform his work Galileo for the first time in Italy.

Esther Ferrer

Through her 'actions', Esther Ferrer inquires into man's need to identify with his own body and with space in his search for a point of reference, a center, as opposed to the instability of time, to the transformation that time brings in man and in his own vital space.

Helga De La Motte expressed the following authoritative reflections on her work: "Esther Ferrer continuously refers to the absurdity of daily life, which is the starting point of her artistic work. Adding the absurd to the absurd means approaching it and leaving it. Simple events, a word read, a title, an object of daily life... constitute starting points for what she considers performances.

There are no determined materials, in the sense of the classical theory of art, in which colours and brushes come before painting, tones before music and words before poetry. For Esther Ferrer, images, photographs and musical pieces share a common level. Many times, they emerge from a performance. Esther Ferrer strictly dissociates that core of her artistic work from all shapes of happenings or any other type of staging born in the XX century. Her actions deal with a single subject; they are reduced to the extreme; they are not shows; they are not fiction; they are always anchored in reality while being artificial and in a new context. They represent nothing. Their emptiness and absurdity turn the viewer into an interpreter; they submerge him/her in a process of interpretation. Even if the viewer behaves reluctantly or even leaves, he/she continues participating actively. Esther Ferrer's "material" is the basic forms of human vision: space and time".

Tom Johnson

Nature is a book one can read, but the language is mathematics.
Galileo Galilei

The day Galileo Galilei discovered the law of the pendulum, I'm sure he thought he was reading the book of nature, and when I play my pendulums I sometimes have a similar feeling. I can not control their movement and can only try to follow their rhythm, their natural rhythm. The law of the pendulum is only one among thousands of laws that control the world we live in, not counting those yet undiscovered, but it is a natural law that can be seen and heard rather easily, and often people who attend performances of Galileo also feel that they are not only hearing music, but also reading a bit from the book of nature. Tom Johnson

Galileo is a composition/instrument that swings on five pendulums. The slowest of these hangs from a line about 260 cm. long, suspended from a height of about four meters. The other four pendulums must be carefully measured, following the formula discovered by Galileo Galilei some 500 years ago, so as to make their cycles in 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 4/5 the time necessary for the longest. A sequence of short compositions allow us to hear all the different combinations of tempos. The piece has evolved slowly from three pendulums to five, from 10 minute to over 40, in a variety of situations. The precise measurements, and the precise metronome markings that result, may vary, depending particularly on the performance space, the maximum height, and the height at which the performer wants the pendulums to swing. But the proportions must be quite exact, in order for the different rhythms to be in proportion.

Pendulums from low to high I II III IV V
Rhythmic ratios as whole numbers 12 15 16 18 24
Rhythmic ratios as fractions 1 5/4 4/3 3/2 2
Length of strings as fractions 1 16/25 9/16 4/9 1/4
Suggested exact length in cm. 288 184.3 162 128 72
Approximate metronome speeds 20 25 26.7 30 40

Esther Ferrer,
was born in San Sebastián in 1937. She lives and works in Paris. Between 1961 and 1968 she participated in the initiatives of the Asociación Artistica of Gipuzkoa, presided by Amable Arias, and created, together with painter José Antonio Sistiaga, the Taller de libre expresión and founded an Escuela experimental in Elorrio (Vizcaya). In 1967 she joined the Zaj Group, founded by Juan Hidalgo, Walter Marchetti and Ramón Barce in Madrid in 1964. From then on, she did around a hundred concerts with the Zaj Group, as well as countless individual performances in Spain (Museum of San Telmo, Museum Vostell, Festival Internacional Video de San Sebastián y de Madrid, Festival de Navarra y Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Encuentros de Pamplona, etc.), France (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Université de Vincennes et Paris-Sorbonne, Festival de Cogolin, Polyphonix, Centre Georges Pompidou, etc.), the US (N.Y. University, Merce Cunningham Studio, The Kitchen, Walker Art Center, Harvard University, Dartmouth University, University of Buffalo), Canada (University of Montreal), Italy (Out/Off, Il Treno di John Cage, Rumore di Fondo, Polyphonix, Milanopoesia), Holland (Het Apollohuis), Belgium (Palais de Beaux Arts), etc. She exhibited her works (objects, installations, structures) in Madrid, Stockholm, Malmö, Paris, Oslo, Barcelona, Holland, etc., in several solo and group exhibitions. A retrospective exhibition on her work was hosted at the Sala de Exposiciones Koldo Mitxelena in San Sebastián (De la acción al objeto y viceversa, December 1997-February 1998). In 1999 she was chosen by committee member David Pérez to represent Spain at the 48th Biennale of Venice. Esther Ferrer graduated in Social Sciences and Journalism. From 1975 onward she published her own culture pieces with several publications, collaborating with, among others, daily newspapers and reviews such as El País, Lápiz, Jano, Ere and El Globo.

Tom Johnson,
born in Colorado in 1939, received B.A. and M.Mus. Degrees from Yale University, and studied composition privately with Morton Feldman. After 15 years in New York, he moved to Paris, where he has lived since 1983. He is considered a minimalist, since he works with simple forms, limited scales, and generally reduced materials, but he proceeds in a more logical way than most minimalists, often using formulas, permutations, and predictable sequences. Johnson is well known for his operas: The Four Note Opera (1972) continues to be presented in many countries. Riemannoper has been staged more than 20 times in German-speaking countries since its premier in Bremen in 1988. Often played non-operatic works include Bedtime Stories, Rational Melodies, Music and Questions, Counting Duets, Tango, Narayana's Cows, and Failing: a very difficult piece for solo string bass. His largest composition, the Bonhoeffer Oratorium, a two-hour work in German for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, with text by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was premiered in Maastricht in 1996, and has since been presented in Berlin and New York. Johnson has also written numerous radio pieces, such as J'entends un choeur (commissioned by Radio France for the Prix Italia, 1993), Music and Questions (also available on an Australian Broadcasting Company CD) and Die Melodiemaschinen, premiered by WDR Radio in Cologne in January 1996. The most recent radio piece is A Time to Listen, premiered by the Irish national radio in 2004. The principal recordings currently available on CD are the Musique pour 88 (1988) (XI), An Hour for Piano (1971) (Lovely Music), The Chord Catalogue (1986) (XI), Organ and Silence (2000) (Ants), Kientzy Plays Johnson (2004) (Pogus), Rational Melodies/Bedtime Stories (2006) (Ants) and Symmetries (2006) (Karnatic Lab). The Voice of New Music, a collection of articles written 1971-1982 for the Village Voice, published by Apollohuis in 1989, is now in the public domain and can be downloaded at Self-Similar Melodies, a theoreticcal book in English, was published by Editions 75 in 1996. Recent projects include Tilework, a series of 14 pieces for solo instruments, published by Editions 75 in 2003, Same or Different, a piece commissioned by the Dutch radio in 2004, and the Combinations for String Quartet, premiered in Berlin on the MaerzMusik festival in 2004. As performer he frequently plays his Galileo, a 45-minute piece written for a self-invented percussion instrument. Johnson received the French national prize in the Victoires de la Musique in 2001 for Kientzy Loops.