Arthur’s Landing is a group of musicians, all of whom worked at various times in various contexts with the late Arthur Russell, a cellist and composer from Iowa who lived on the Lower East Side for most of the later part of his too-short life. Russell brought together the worlds of dance, pop, and folk with that of downtown’s “new music,” and fused Western and Eastern musical traditions, driven by his engagement with Buddhist thought and practice. He collaborated often with Allen Ginsberg, and Phillip Glass was also an early mentor. Characteristic of Russell’s method was his tendency to work hard and long, and he rarely considered anything finished. What was his unending pursuit of the ineffable becomes a challenge and inspiration for the Arthur’s Landing ensemble. It is hard to resist the ambition and humor behind compositions with titles like “Temple of Meaning,” “Terrace of Intelligibility,” and “Hop on Down to Petland.” Russell is the focus of the feature-length 2008 documentary directed by Matt Wolf, Wild Combination. A biography by Tim Lawrence, Hold Onto Your Dreams, is due out this year.
The Arthur’s Landing ensemble will perform pop songs and parts of a longer instrumental work called “Singing Tractors” and will be available following the performance to answer questions about Russell’s life and work.
Arthur’s Landing (songs by Arthur Russell)
Joyce Bowden: voice
Steven Hall: voice, guitar
Ernie Brooks: voice, bass
John Scherman: lead guitar
Bill Ruyle: drums, hammered dulcimer
Mustafa Ahmed: percussion
Peter Zummo: voice, trombone
Alex Waterman: cello
Original post-minimalist composer Elodie Lauten, composer of the 2003 opera Waking in New York based on a selection of Allen Ginsberg poems about New York City, opens this program performing her electronic piece S.O.S.W.T.C. Written in reaction to the 9/11 tragedy, S.O.S.W.T.C evokes the emotion of that memory with the use of concrete and indefinite pitch percussion samples.
In April 2009 Lauten was featured along with Yoko Ono in the “Women Forward” exhibition in Williamsburg. In March 2009 she premiered her Two-cents Opera at Theater for the New City. Lauten also collaborated frequently with Arthur Russell, singing and playing keyboards with him in various ensembles during the 1980s.