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Keeping the Music Alive

October 22, 1992|ANNE KLARNER

"When people think of composers, they think of Beethoven and Mozart, who are dead," said Edward Cansino, conductor and founder of I Cantori, a vocal and instrumental chamber ensemble.

That is why Saturday night's concert of contemporary music at Occidental College is being called "Night of the Living Composers." Besides, Cansino said, he liked the title and was looking for a way to use it.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that composers are more than alive," he added.

So Cansino and the ensemble decided to perform works by Enrique Gonzalez, Daniel Kessner, Kazuo Fukushima and Greg Fish, all of whom are still working, and Joan La Barbara, who will be there in the flesh Saturday.

There is also the perception that modern classical music is atonal and difficult to listen to. But I Cantori singer Nicole Baker thinks that the music on the program is very accessible.

The first two parts of Fish's piece, "Cantata for a New World"--a computer interactive work in which the singers trigger tones from a computer--are another story, she said. "It's probably one of the five scariest things I've ever done."

It is tricky because human voices vary, and computers generally need an exact pitch to follow, Baker explained.

"We're coaxing an extremely fast idiot into working like a human being," Fish said. Using special software, he has programmed a computer to listen to the singers, allow for their variations and then generate music back.

Saturday will be the cantata's world premiere.

Also debuting will be Cansino's concerto, "Voyager," for cello and voices.

"It has a musical story line," the composer said. "The cello is (the) Voyager, and the voices are the places and people in history that Voyager meets."

The program starts at 8 p.m. in the college's Thorne Hall, 1600 Campus Road, Eagle Rock. Tickets are $12.

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