Joan Jeanrenaud: A Fourth Approach to Performing Music

Joan Jeanrenaud: A Fourth Approach to Performing Music

Ice Cello

FRANK J. OTERI: Aside from music, you live in this great city of San Francisco, what else do you do?

JOAN JEANRENAUD: Lately, it’s nice because I’m hear more – when I was with Kronos we were on the road 6 months of the year. Now I can say I’m on the road about 3 months of the year, and it’s much
different. For scheduling it’s much nicer, I tend to stay in one place for longer period of time, I tend to go to really great places like New York, I was in Hawaii for a good project that I did. So I’m here more which gives me more opportunity to really check out the scene more. I play with a lot of people now
who are living here, like Larry Ochs, Pamela Z, then of course Terry lives really close, and Hamza lives close, so there’s a great group of artists and musicians who live here, and I think through them I go to a lot of different things now, I have time to attend events and see what’s going on. Tonight I’m going to the
circus at the Yerba Buena Center, I’m artist-in-residence there. This year has been really great and they’re doing a lot of interesting things there. They have a lot of kinds of things going on there in the arts and theater.

FRANK J. OTERI: I know that you worked with Molissa Fenley, Stephen Vitiello.

JOAN JEANRENAUD: Yeah, Stephen – you know hopefully we’re going to work on this piece that Charlotte Moorman performed and it was by the conceptual artist Jim McWilliams who now lives in San Diego which is great. He’s still alive. He’s in great shape, and I’ve been down to meet with him. So we’re basically going to recreate this piece called Ice Cello and it’s a cello made out of ice, and I play it but the only sound is ice melting on to trays beneath the cello that are miked. That’s the perfect piece for Stephen.

FRANK J. OTERI: One of the biggest mind-blowing experiences for me when I was a high-school student was attending a Music for Homemade Instruments concert on the Bowery, and one of the pieces
on the program was scored for dried ice and three frying pans.


FRANK J. OTERI: I heard a major triad melt into a minor triad, and it was the most amazing thing! It was over a Bunsen burner.

JOAN JEANRENAUD: That sounds really great.

FRANK J. OTERI: It was really cool. I’ll have to find out one of these days whose piece that is! But once again this is yet another example, Ice Cello is another example, you can hear it on a CD or on tape, but you really would be missing part of what it’s about. The extra musical things that are going on are
really as much a part of it. It’s really a piece of performance art.

JOAN JEANRENAUD: Definitely. To me I really like that right now. I like that idea that you have to be there to experience it.

FRANK J. OTERI: I think Quicktime video on the Web could be helpful here…

JOAN JEANRENAUD: Yeah, and there has been talk of trying to video it, even having simultaneous video production, which has been Jim’s idea and it’s great. Here’s the guy who has conceived this piece and now he’s thinking of it again in a different time and in a different context, and what he can do now, he can do all these things.

FRANK J. OTERI: But of course then you get into the whole notion that you can’t really re-create the acoustics. Composers like La Monte Young are so concerned with the acoustics because they are as much a part of the piece as the notes…

JOAN JEANRENAUD: Yeah, and I really feel like being there has a lot to do with it too. I’ve always felt that even with CDs and recordings, they’re fantastic too, but it’s just a different format, so this would be the same thing. I’m sure it would be documented, but it would be a different thing than the actual performance itself. I always thought Kronos was really good about that. They treated a performance as one thing, and a recording as a different thing, it’s just like what I was saying about my
cellos, you can do different things with different instruments, with different formats. And you can use that instrument or it’s format to it’s fullest, which is really exciting, but you can’t necessarily cross over that all the time.

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