[Dec. 17] Quad Listening Event: The Immersive Early Music of Joan La Barbara

The Immersive Early Music of Joan La Barbara, is a DVD of restored vintage recordings from 1976 – 1981 that will be released on MODE Records.  The works for the new release will include CYCLONE, AUTUMN SIGNAL and as lightning comes, in flashes.

Over the past 4 decades, Joan La Barbara has created a number of multi-channel works that were designed to be heard in quadraphonic sound and other unusual spatial arrangements of speakers. These works were initially performed in concert using multiple speakers and various systems designed to allow movement of sound from speaker to speaker.

To have these vintage works available in a contemporary format is to bring back to life works that have been nearly lost for several decades. For the surround sound format to be used for sonic art works is to enhance the viability of this medium as well as to preserve, in their original conceptual form, works that were created to immerse the audience in the artist’s sonic vision.

The Glass Box Theater

55 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011

Date:  Sunday December 17, 2017

Time:  5 pm

Composer/Vocalist Joan La Barbara has created a rich body of experimental works, many initially produced on analog tape and is a long recognized pioneer of extended vocal techniques as well as a renowned champion of new music.

She emerged from the New York Downtown scene to perform in the ensembles of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, including the premiere of Glass’ Einstein on the Beach. She has performed and recorded works by composers including John Cage, Robert Ashley, Morton Feldman, Philip Glass, Alvin Lucier, and her husband Morton Subotnick.

This collection includes a first release of the award-winning CYCLONE, first presented at a the ISCM World Music Days festival in Bonn, Germany in 1977. The other two works were initially issued on LP on the Wizard label, but now in new mixes.

The reissues offered here remixed to her original surround concept: as lightning comes, in flashes explores a vast array of La Barbara’s signature extended vocal techniques. Autumn Signal is a rare example of the composer’s work with Buchla synthesizer, which she utilized for spatialization as well as modification of vocals.

For this release, fresh 96khz/24-bit transfers were made from the original multi-track analog tapes. Then all new stereo and surround mixes were then created under the supervision of the composer.

Liner notes by Bernard Gendron trace La Barbara’s beginnings in the New Music world from the early 1970s Downtown Scene and her evolution as an avant-garde vocalist and composer. In addition, La Barbara contributes detailed notes on the works.


Joan La Barbara, composer, performer, sound artist and actor is renowned for developing a unique vocabulary of experimental and extended vocal techniques (multiphonics, circular singing, ululation, and glottal clicks, her “signature sounds”) influencing generations of other composers and singers.  Awards, prizes and Fellowships: Foundation for Contemporary Art John Cage Award (2016), Premio Internazionale Demetrio Stratos; DAAD-Berlin Artist-in-Residency; Civitella Ranieri, Guggenheim and 7 National Endowment for the Arts (Music Composition, Opera/Music Theater, Inter-Arts, Recording, Solo Recital, Visual Arts), and numerous commissions. Her multi-layered textural compositions (for multiple voices, chamber ensembles, theater, orchestra, interactive technology, soundscores for dance, video and film) were presented at Brisbane Biennial, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Warsaw Autumn, MaerzMusik Berlin, and Lincoln Center.

MODE Records : The MODE catalog has wide circulation and is used as a resource for other presenters and archivists who are interested in keeping the history of American experimental music alive for the younger generation.

About La Barbara:

“Ms. La Barbara, a riveting stage presence.” Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, Saturday, July 22, 2017

“La Barbara’s solo work, ‘Solitary Journeys of the Mind,’ conjured the primal hum of an entire new universe created solely with her vocal techniques. Her piece transformed from a hopeful sacred chant to the emotional chaos of birth and death, with fluctuating vocal tones and unconventional vocabulary morphing to express love and loss without saying an actual word.” City Pages, Feb 24, 2017

Full Article

Review of Voice is the Original Instrument – The Wire

Read Here




Project Collaborators 

Harvestworks, Executive Producer

Mode Records

Joan La Barbara, Composer


The Immersive Early Music of Joan La Barbara was supported by the Robert D. Bielecki Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

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