Works of Warner Jepson 1996
At 4 I liked the music on a Winnie the Pooh set of records; maybe my love for 6/8 meter comes from this music. My sister bought lots of pop singer and big band records; Tommy Dorsey's noisy "Traffic Jam," fascinated me, (it annoyed mother who played the piano, had been a voice major, and got me taking piano lessons at 5). I liked it like I later liked Prokofief's "Scythian Suite" and Stravinski: (sometimes I've tried to match that similar intense screaming (the last movement of TOTENTANZ, POINT LOBOS). When I was 6 I jumped out of my seat when I heard the flatted 7th in the 5th bar of "The Breeze and I," [Andalucia]; it's the same note that makes The Lady and the Tramp" and "O What a Beautiful Morning" what they are. The move from F to Ab in "Long Ago and Far Away" did the same at 14. The march theme in Ravel's Left Hand Concerto raised the hairs on my neck. Debussy's "...Faun" and Gliere's "Ilya Mourametz" fed my fantasy world. So from early puberty (and sexual activity) I did a lot of composing and improvising to find more sounds that would excite me or make me dance.
At Oberlin I spent as much time improvising as practicing. In S.F. I decided, unwisely I've always thought, not to accept my acceptance into U.S.C. to study movie music, and began improvising for modern dance classes where I met Doris Dennison, a friend of Merce and Cage. Helping her accompany dances of Welland Lathrop and Ann Halprin I'd watch her dip a gong in water for a new sound. At Ann's home there was a work room with a tape recorder and things to make sounds. I began to record them, and enjoyed changing reality by reversing, splicing, making short and long loops of the sounds, and changing speeds of the tape. [A few years out of the stricture/structure of Oberlin, finding composing had become difficult, I took up photography to "play" unfettered again, and liked the reality altering by cropping, framing, and getting close.] This music concrete' work led to my first tape music piece, "The Branch."
1958 Dec. 13 Sat "The Branch" Ann Halprin Dance Co. "...This was the first local dance recital, at least to my knowledge, in which most of the accompaniment was provided by tape-recorded music. In one case, the "Duo," music by Pieter van Deusen, the music overwhelmed the dance. In others, notably the intensely lyrical nature-piece called "The Branch, " music by Warner Jepson, and the amorphous, spacy-haunted "Flight," music again by Van Deusen, sound and action complemented each other superbly."
This was my first tape piece and my first use of recorded sounds described as music concrete. They were simply sounds found around Ann Halprin's basement of drawers opened, bamboo shaker/sticks, and other nondescript sounds that the reel-to-reel tape recorder enabled one to make into new and mysterious atmospheres and rhythms.
1959 Sep 13 Sun "VISIO"; 707 Scott St. a series of visual experiences in motion in conjunction with improvised music: Light show: Paul Beattie; musicians: Bill Spencer, Warner Jepson
Paul and Bill were friends of Elias Romero who was newly returned from L.A. where he'd done light-shows in a jazz club. He was the first exponent of the medium in S.F., I believe, teaching it to Tony Martin at the San Francisco Tape Center before Tony took it to the Fillmore rock concerts.
Paul, Bill and I, and dancers from Ann's classes would get together a Sunday evening, often at Wellend's studio, 1831 Union St. Simone Morris [later Forte], Robert's wife, who was an outstanding improviser with Ann, and Robert Morris himself would be movers. Robert began to bring "things" to use which were the beginnings of his conceptual pieces. [He gave me one for my birthday which I later dismantled! when I didn't know what to do with it. But then I destroyed a constructions of my own that was in a SF Museum sculpture annual.]
1960 May 21 "VISIO"; 1031 Kearny
1960 "Rites of Women" (J. Broughton, A Halprin) SFPlayhouse a mixture of sketches based on Broughton's poetry, and dances by Halprin, both often humorous
Besides writing my first song (to Broughton's lyrics) there was music concrete for Ann Halprin's dances. A long loop for one dance was what attracted Helen Adams to let me write the music for her San Francisco's Burning which the Playhouse wanted me to do based on the two songs.
1961 Aug. 11 Fri. Welland Lathrop Dance Co., SF State College, Div. of Creative Arts Music to part one: Dave Brubeck Quartet [rec.] Music to part two: Improvised by Warner Jepson [live] Music to part three: Maurice Ravel [rec.]
1961 Feb. "If You Look Down There You'll See It" construction, SFMOMA sculpture annual Feb 12 The Examiner, Alexander Fried: "Smiles broke into chuckles at the sight of....and Warner Jepson's surrealist airplane view of what looks like a walled city in a harbor. Jepson calls his piece, "If You Look Down There You Will See It" What you see includes wornout paint tubes, and wriggly squeezings of pigment. The whole thing is really intriguing."
I had been making the piece with paint tubes, piano keys, undershirts, on a 4 x4 piece of wallboard for the fun of it, when Dick Faralla, a local sculptor, suggested I enter it. Years later after my separation and years of seeing it on the wall in Kiira's room, I thought little of it, took it down and destroyed it. How little perspective I had at that age, destroying also Robert Morris' first conceptional piece, a birthday gift to me, again because I didn't appreciate it!
1961 Dec 15 "San Francsico's Burning" book by Helen Adam, music by Warner Jepson, SF Playhouse Dec 20 SF Chronicle, Martin Russell: "It's often hard to level objective criticism at a show that's as totally captivating as "San Francisco's Burning,"... Although it's lengthy, the intertwining moods and themes are so varied and so judiciously handled by director Kermit Sheets that the sum effect is one of pure delight. The show (called a ballad opera) is virtually all song, which must have tested the mature talents of Warner Jepson, Helen and Pat Adam quite severely. Yet there's scarcely a sign of strain. Jepson's music is just as sensational in melodies like "A shell Beach by the Scottish Sea," as in the lively "Live High" and "I'm an Immature Inamorata." ..My hat's off to every one for a job superbly done."
Dec 20 Berkeley Daily Gazette: "San Francisco's Burning," a ballad opera...should finally put an end to the myth that local talent and writing abilities are not first class. This musical montage...is far more imaginative and substantial than most of the Broadway shows presented on Geary St. At the very least it's spectacular. ..This musical has a staggering 33 numbers in the first act and 13 more in the second. Fortunately the musical quantity is more than equaled in quality.
Jan 21 1962 SF Examiner: Stanley Eichelbaum ...a lyrical but unsentimental, tragicomic satire of San Francisco before the Earthquake... the show threatens to break every Playhouse attendance record. ...I was convinced that it is a work of infinite, haunting liveliness, but that it is a real milestone of little theater production and that it deserves to be seen elsewhere, particularly on the off-Broadway stage in New York. ..its bittersweet score, the work reminds one of the Brecht-Weil collaboration--a kind of "Threepenny Opera" about old San Francisco." ...Before this, Jepson had written only one song, two years ago, for ..."Rites of Women"... 'I nearly turned it down, because I had no idea I could ever do it.' "
1962 May Progress Drama Correspondent Jerold Irwin: "You are not likely to find as vital, humorous, bitter, and entertaining a "little theater" musical as "San Francisco's Burning" here in the next few years. The production is especially significant when you consider that such breadth of scope and conception come from an "amateur" repertory company, a company nevertheless that had the courage to undertake what must be judged a major and daring theatrical project.... And we even hear the tone of the city suggested in a wonderfully conceived score by Warner Jepson, which in its tawdry and atonal quality reminds one of "Threepenny Opera" and "Guys and Dolls,"...A tremendously difficult production of an enormously complex poem, "San Francisco's Burning" is almost entirely a success. It should be seen by every San Franciscan, and then everyone every place else."
I took about a year to compose the songs, with no thought of what I was doing other than to get the songs done, one at a time. An added difficulty was that Helen Adam, who had sung her lyrics extemporaneously in her one-woman performances of the show, was frequently unhappy with a song I'd finished. The Playhouse repeatedly had to support me in persuading her that the show should have only one composer. We began rehearsals in September. It was not until we had a run-through of the first act that I heard what it was going to be like. Actually, I count 60 songs. During the 6 month run to June 10 62, Helen had a nervous breakdown and turned against the production of her work. She never would let it be done with my music, telling me years later in a letter that she had stipulated that in her will! The head of the poetry department at the U. of Buffalo which bought her works before she died says there is no will. After asking numerous composers, including Terry Riley, to do it her way, she found one to do it in New York, eliciting the following review: " 'San Francisco's Burning' has almost nothing to recommend it but size...The first act is tedious and the second act is all but intolerable." Yet Helen insisted my music was not right. Because the score was so large and complicated and there was so little time and I hated making proper legible ink copies it remained in pencil and not copyrighted with the words.. That left me powerless to produce it without Helen's consent..
1963 Sep. "Brouhaha" a review, music by Warner Jepson & Martin Blinder, SF Playhouse Martin Blinder was a jazz pianist, I was not. It wasn't an easy collaboration. He later was the psychiatrist whose testimony led to Dan White's acquittal of the Moscone and Milk murders.
1964 April 11 "Saddle The Unicorn" book by Dennis Dunn, music by Warner Jepson, SF Playhouse
April 14 1964 SF Examiner: Stanley Eichelbaum: "Jepson's...lovely and haunting outpourings of melody, ranging from dark, moody Alban Bergish atonality to graceful, almost Elizabethan tonality. There is even a charming masque for the animals. ...A brand-new musical work is no cinch. ...it is a novel and enjoyable adventure...
THE BEST PLAYS OF 1963-1964 Paine Knickerbocker: The happiest original local production was a modest comedy with music called Saddle the Unicorn, ...written with a charming freshness by Dennis Dunn, and enhanced by the simple lyric adornments of Warner Jepson
1965 May 17,18 Tue/Wed; New Music By Robert Erickson premier of "Piece for Bells and Toy Pianos" performed by Warner Jepson, toy pianos "Bells have a complex pitch/timbre structure which gives their sounds a limitless fascination; and toy pianos, which produce tones by means of vibrating rods, have an inherent bell-like timbre and a similar complexity of pitch structure. In this piece, composing consisted of first, carefully selecting bells for their timbre and tuning; then the four master tapes were mixed to create a final stereo version. The bell recordings and the master tapes were made on home equipment, and the final mixing was done at the SFTape Music Center, with the help of Mr. William Maginnis. The score for the live toy pianos was written last. It requires the performer to play both written and improvised materials.
I sat at the front of the stage on pillows with two toy pianos in front of me, one without legs on top of another. The lid of the top one was off so that I could hit the rods inside with a mallet as well as play the keys. This piece was later filmed by KQED, Bill Triest, producer, for broadcast. Erickson says the film is in the library at U.C. San Diego. Robert invited me to accompany him into the music department at U.C. San Diego in '64 but I suddenly was about to marry and declined.
1966 how it started Begin work on the Buchla Box at 321 Divisadero, the S.F. Tape Music Center first piece, "Joy Journey," I discovered the joys of working with Don Buchla's Box, his first synthesizer, that offered numerous sound possibilities without a map. I could only hope when I sat down at it that I would find something wonderful with it.
As I made my musical discoveries at the "Buchla Box" I would take them to play for friends, often at quite respectable parties that might, but not necessarily, involve a little smoking of pot, of people who were fascinated by the new sounds and the environments they invoked. Entertainment was changing, getting "psychedelic," with stereo sound, "light shows," electronic and tape soundsources, all part of the newness and liberation of the 60's, with plastics, drugs, Kennedy, the Beetles, hippies, and anti-war rebellion.
These parties led to an invitation to play my music at a noon outdoor gathering in the spring at the SF Art Institute. Lee Adair (Hastings), a painter, approached me to play my tapes at her opening at the Berkeley Gallery on Battery Street in 1967; this would be the first of many art openings parties, and exhibitions throughout the bay area where I was hired to add my "Buchla music".
1966 May 25 Wed Bay Area New Music at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1966 May ? The last concert at the SF Tape Music Center 321 Divisadero This was a joint concert of tape music with Charles MacDermed having the first half and I the second. I played 4 pieces, "12 Day Raga," "Joy Journey," "Dear Pete" and I forget the 4th.
"Joy Journey" was my first piece composed on the Buchla. It has always been one of my favorite pieces using a patch on the sequencer of a longer string of notes than I've ever been able to attain again. It was beginner's luck and a beginner's loss.
The Tape Center was to move to Mills College in the summer. It opened in September under the very open and loose supervision of Pauline Oliveros that made it very conducive to create. The two following years Tony Gnazzo and Lowell Cross held sway. But the years passed and Mills took ever more control of it; when it finally came under the tight control of Robert Ashley I had to leave. But in those three years I managed to compose a couple ballets, movie scores, numerous gallery events, and accumulated over 200 half hour tapes of Buchla sounds.
I always preferred this first 100 series Buchla because the sounds felt more earthy, perhaps the sine waves were not so pure. Later when I worked with the 200 series, a set of my own, and one at the National Center for Experiments in Television, I always had more difficulty finding sounds that pleased me, ones that evoked images that weren't cold.
1967 April 1-2 TOTENTANZ SF Opera House Mar 25 SF Examiner: "Warner Jepson, the San Francisco composer and teacher, has been engaged by the San Francisco Ballet to compose the electronic tape score for Carlos Carvajal's new ballet "TOTENTANZ, to be premiered at the Opera House April 1-2."
It was James Broughton, filmmaker of "The Bed" who recommended me to a student in his class, Carlos Carvajal, the choreographer of "TOTENTANZ." It was a last minute commission when the SF Ballet c/wouldn't come up with Henze's price to compose the score.
I would go to the Tape Music Center, then at Mills, at 8pm and work through the night at Don Buchla's "box."
The tape consisted of both concrete sounds from my collection at Ann Halprin's, and Buchla sounds from Mills where I put it together rather quickly as the ballet was already in production.
Standing in back of the main floor audience was an anxious affair for me as I wondered how this new music would be accepted by an Opera House audience. [It wasn't as if I was among my hip friends, Bill, Paul, and Simone and Robert, making the scene] I also felt apologetic and worried about the stridency of the 3rd section, which I vacillated between enjoying and hating. I saw a few leave. When Carlos, Cal [the designer], and I walked out on stage for our bows (of this House which I generally attended as an usher) the moment was unreal.
Apr. 3 Mon SF Examiner, Arthur Bloomfield, TOTENTANZ: "The weekend marked the premier of Carlos Carvajal's "TOTENTANZ," and this incredibly spooky but well-ordered item is very likely the most fascinating new ballet (or call it dance drama) the company has brought out in some time. The score, by Warner Jepson, is electronic. It's an unusually rhythmic job, chock full of evocations, and it reminds us only too well that tape music cries for the theater.
"TOTENTANZ" begins with a lone hum which also reads as a moan. Already Jepson is expressive and he becomes more so as laborious scraping accompany a glum procession with a weighty Crucifix which suggests a Japanese movie. Plaintive peeps, horrendous growls and mindless static mark their harrowing time."
Apr. 3 Mon SFChronical; Robert Commanday: "...In realization, Warner Jepson's thin and elementary accompaniment, a sort of new-Minkus, almost ostinatoed the dance to death. Sounding as if it were composed "at the console," it stands in almost the same relationship to sophisticated scores, as Glazounov's and Auber's scores...to music of Tchaikovsky and Berlioz. ...One other oversight must be corrected--the decision to perform "TOTENTANZ" only one weekend this spring: it must be repeated."
Apr. 5 Wed Review for broadcast, Rolf Peterson: "TOTENTANZ" ...is a thoroughly modern and tremendously exciting work. Death's ultimate victory over life is a recurrent theme in art...but this is the first modern ballet on the subject I've ever seen. I can't imagine a better one. ...And the electronic score, by Warner Jepson, was perfect. "TOTENTANZ" begins with a medieval procession...and builds to a frantic pitch...climaxing in a fantastic sea of writhing bodies, Fillmore-auditorium style, and one of the greatest light shows I've ever seen. I can't praise Carlos Carvajal's "TOTENTANZ" too highly, ...nor too strongly urge the San Francisco Ballet Company to repeat it."
1968 March "The Bed" Surf Theater Mar 16 The SFChronical: "The Bed" which is now playing at the Surf and is James Broughton's first film in more than 10 years, won third prize and $200 in the Foothill College Independent Filmmakers Festival.
While James was editing the film I would look at the segments he was putting together. It was interesting that while I would think I would do this or that for a scene it wasn't until I'd improvised/composed the music that I discovered what would work and where. What was also interesting was that the form of the film gave a good form to the music, putting a lyrical section between two energetic sections, and allowing for the more frenetic and bizarre music to come appropriately near the end-- appropriately, that is, to the male mind.
As I was a teacher at the SF Conservatory I availed myself one evening of the harpsichord and a harp in a room together. Listening to the miked harpsichord through earphones I found the sound much more exciting and improvised a long section which I recorded on my Revox. Never sure if anything is satisfactory I recorded some more versions. At home, I believe it was, rather than choosing any one, I put one on track A and another on track B which made them rhythmically phase in and out wonderfully. I only added a gradual crescendo to it as it was so long.
I had composed the theme for the titles at home on the piano thinking of the jaunty bed going down hill. But it sounded better on the harpsichord, and again the Revox enabled me to put it on one track and add random harp glisses on the other.
I used this method elsewhere, putting patterns of sound on top of themselves the result being more complex and interesting than anything I could devise or play.
The sound for the man playing a saxophone came from a very difficult Guatemalan oboe that a flutist friend had just discovered.
The grand single cathedral chords near the end were harpsichord chords recorded back at normal and half speed.
The rumble accompanying the mass of feet near the film's end was an exotic homemade guitar's out-of-tune strings stroked and recorded back at half-speed. As I don't play guitar I placed the instrument flat and improvised the music for this and the film's previous section with Alan Watts giving the last rites to Gavin Arthur.
I played harpsichord, harp, piano and guitar to make the music. A friend played flute and the aforesaid oboe. The opening birds and the music for the motorcyclist driving up to the lady on the bed were Buchla sounds..
Apr. 7 SF Examiner, Genevieve Stuttaford: Warner Jepson's music, written scene by scene, uses an intriguing combination of harpsichord, [Buchla synthesizer,] guitar, Guatemalan flute, and harp.
Apr. 14, SF Chronicle J.L.Wasserman: "Throughout, there is a child-like innocence that makes the oft-total nudity almost irrelevant...and a wry affection for man, foibles or no. Warner Jepson's music complements this mood beautifully.
Apr. 14, SF Examiner, Stanley Eichelbaumz: "Broughton filmed it in a lovely glen near Muir Woods, with...50 or so of his friends....[that] include a good many of our aging Bohemians ([Alan Watts, Gavin Arthur, Imogen Cunningham...Jean Varda] and younger semi-hippies... ...the whimsical poetic flavor,...and the pleasant contrapuntal score of Warner Jepson notably heighten the appeal of Broughton's film..."
SF Chronicle Herb Caen: "James Broughton's avant gardnik film, "The Bed," which bounces around under such gloriosities as Alan Watts, Gavin Arthur, Jean Varda, Imogen Cunningham, Wes Wilson and Dame Enid Foster, has been accepted for the Belgian Film Festival in December. San Francisco isn't ready for it."
1968 April 28 Wed SF Art Institute's Studio Tour Apr. 14, SF Examiner, Albert Morch: "...a studio home high atop a Mission hill....The music is strictly electronic and a shapely figure model...wanders about near-nude, begging onlookers to contribute to the Institute cause and...pluck another fabric patch...from her rapidly-baring body. ...achieved her end to the wild throbbings of musical transistorization..."
1968 May 15 Wed "The Awakening" S.F. Ballet May 16 The SF Examiner, Alexander Fried: "Imagine a new sort of "white ballet," dolled up in spotless tights, stark electronic noises, mysterious visual projections and hangings of cellophane. That was Carlos Carvajal's new "The Awakening,"...imaginative and interesting...[it] sustained a continuous mood with the help of sound by Warner Jepson...
May 16 The SFChronical; Robert Commanday: "Carlos Carvajal, whose probing never ceases, introduced his "The Awakening," a multi-form fantasy of electronic sound, light play and dance in extra-deep stage perspective ...achieving an exciting texture of movement. Warner Jepson's electronic score, meanwhile, worked to mirror this effect in sound around the audience perimeter. Although the "melodies" and ostinato rhythms with which Jepson initiated most sections were obvious, he built tremendous momentum in their development. William Ham's projection paintings were artfully blended so that movement, light and sound seemed to move closer in a single entity."
I decided to make "The Awakening" quadraphonic, because it was a burgeoning idea at the time as manufacturers tried to entice the public to set up quadraphonic systems in their homes as the latest improvement to "realistic" listening.
The problem I had was in not have a 4 track recorder or playback system. At Mills, on the 2 stereo Ampex machines, I would take sounds from my library of Buchla material, record them from one Ampex to another, either on the 2 tracks separately or in stereo. This stereo recorded tape would be Tape 1. I'd then take it off and put on the tape that would be Tape 2, record on it material that I expected would happen at the same time with Tape 1. To hear the results I'd have to play Tape 1 and Tape 2 simultaneously, generally from the end of the paper leader to confirm their accuracy. Keeping track of what was on tape 1 and where it was with tape 2, and vice versa, became nettlesome as the 20 minute piece grew. I never knew what I'd produced until I played Tape 1 and Tape 2 simultaneously and making adjustments I would lose my place between the two tapes since the source tape would have to take the place of one of them. I learned to mark points in the middle of the tapes that I could start from. I finally learned as I played the two tapes at different performances that sometimes the different results would matter and sometimes they wouldn't. Which is true with all synchronicity: between film and music, between track A and B (as in The Bed) between dancer and music, precision isn't always all.
1968 Sep 9 SF Chronicle Oscar de La Renta fashion show at the Art Institute Sep 8 SF Chronicle: "...it will be September 9 at a black-tie dance at the San Francisco Art Institute, ...accompanied by an electronic tape composed by Warner Jepson."
Sep 11 SF Chronicle: "...interesting taped music by Warner Jepson kept the 20-minute show at a fast clip..."
When the president of Sak's 5th Ave. told Oscar only 3 weeks before his fashion show that someone was making electronic music for his show he flipped because the clothes were on an oriental theme, not modern, hi-tech. When the same president told me of Oscar's reaction I went back to the Mills Tape Center to make more sounds with an oriental flavor, reedy flutes, Egyptian rhythms.
1968 Oct 5 Dialectic Fashion Dance The show will feature live and taped music by Warner Jepson whose jinglings and janglings stirred up all the controversy at the Bill Blass and Oscar de La Renta fashion shows here.
1969 Berkeley Gallery [a private gallery in San Francisco] "We are fortunate to have for our opening a composition of electronic music especially composed for the occasion by the noted composer and friend of the Gallery, Warner Jepson, who has played his intriguing work at previous openings of Berkeley Gallery Artists in San Francisco and in Santa Barbara at the Museum."
1969 February David Williams environment [I named the accompanying music Tulliam] Feb. 13 SF Chronicle Thomas Albright: "Williams work at the Hansen Fuller Gallery is a pair of huge constructions, formed of modular big-inch fiberglass tubes, painted in a bright, industrial orange and arranged in dynamic variations on an L. The cylinders are cut open in various sections, and each of the two structures is equipped with huge sound speakers and sources of flashing light.
One contains a cockpit with a bucket seat lined in imitation leopard-skin; you can sit inside while Warner Jepson's electronic music blasts out of a speaker just above your head, slide projections (emanating from a slightly higher point) spin pictures of the tube in various natural sites on the wall in front of you, and a TV set at your feet translates the rhythmic patterns of the sounds into flickering, pulsating lines.
The other construction is a more passive affair, with some thin, transparent tubing that flickers light and color and its own speaker which catches the sound from the first construction and tosses it back again, lending the pair a strange sense of male-female symbiosis.
Williams, a Seattle architect, says his work is "an attempt to synthesize some of the consumer directed electronic products with form in a total entertainment center, with television, sound, light and projection capabilities." This is certainly an exciting possibility for those with tolerant landlords."
ARTFORUM: In a room to itself was a multimedia environmental contrivance collaboratively devised by David Williams, who was responsible for its conception and design, and Warner Jepson, who composed the recorded electronic music which issues from built-in speakers. ...One may lower oneself into this cockpit, fiddle with the dials and watch oscillographic light patterns on the screen or lean back against the headrest and listen to the repeating cycle of episodes of electronic music. The lush and lyrical quasi-impressionistic, quasi-quartal, major 9th chord resonance of a G-C-F-A chord structure arpeggiated downwards in simulated flute-stop organ tones was lyrically restful and alternated with brief hypnotic variations in a manner suggestive of the three-tone horn accompanied by various batteries of drums to be heard in African tribal music.
David Williams was an architect friend of my friend David Robinson an architect art collector, at whose house parties I'd bring my latest crop of Buchla pieces.
For this exhibit which lasted much longer than a half-hour tape, namely a month of days, I had to find a tape that was newly available that looped back into itself. It frequently failed requiring me to come to the gallery with a fix.
1969 May "Invisible Art" exhibit at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond CA, curator Thomas Marioni a group show of painting and sculpture, my Buchla music was, necessarily, the only audio participant throughout the run of the exhibit.
1969 May 28 Art Institute new wing dedication Apr. 1 Tue SF Chronicle: "For the 1969 art party Warner Jepson will have charge of music and happenings, and has already designed "a mystical atmosphere" of lights and electronic tapes at the entrance leading from the old building to the new that will envelope guests as they are led down the ramp [under a red laser beam] and into the enormous new sculpture studios."
May 27 SF Chronicle: "The major new building of the San Francisco Art Institute will be previewed at a celebration tomorrow from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. At the pre-dedication party for members, faculty and guests will enter the new buildings down a fog shrouded ramp, directed by a laser beam pattern.... Studio environments conceived by musician Warner Jepson will be expected by artists Tom Marioni, Ronald Chase and Peter Maccan. Rows of colored floor lights in reflective patterns will transform one studio...
At 11pm music by The Cleveland Wrecking Company and the Clean-X will be interrupted for a serpentine of ballet dancers, models and musicians, leading guests up the ramp to the open Plaza Level, where a brief dedication ritual will take place. Outside by the new lecture hall and amphitheater, light shows by the Holy See and the Goshen Mustang will be projected to the accompaniment of electronic tapes by Warner Jepson. Inside there will be a continuous showing of experimental films by Institute faculty and students."
May 29 SF Chronicle, Frances Moffat: "As the neighbors don't have to be told the San Francisco Art Institute celebrated its smashing $1.7 million new building last night with a preview for at least two thousand noisy, merrymakers... A fog machine created a misty effect on the ramp leading to the new building and laser beams directed guests into enormous new sculpture and painting studios. These had been transformed into ingenious environments by avant-garde musician Warner Jepson and artists Tom Marioni, Ronald Chase and Peter Maccan. One, overlooking the bay, was designed as a meditation room, with cellophane cushions on the floor. Guests walked through intricate arrangements of angled mirrors in one studio,.. ...last night's program of light shows, electronic tapes and experimental films indicates it is clearly ready for the 21st Century."
May 30 SF Chronicle; Thomas Albright: "The San Francisco Art Institute's new building was previewed Wednesday night in an extravaganza of hard rock, liquid lights, electronic music and draped and undraped dancing girls. The spectacle, with its cast of some 2000 guests, was enough to blow the mind of Fellini, or Cecil B. De Mille. And of out-of-towner delegates to the American Association of Museums conference here, who mingled with the throng of artists, hippies and establishment types that coursed through corridors aid machine-made fog, lasers, incense and an occasional whiff of pot. "It's giving me a lot of ideas to take back home,' said a museum rep from the Midwest.
The [roof's] open plaza was the site of the preview's most engrossing spectacle, a mod pagan dedication ritual in which dancers performed to electronic music in a flood of light projections while the silhouettes of spectators lined a roof that stair-steps above a large lecture hall."
May 30 SF Chronicle, Frances Moffat: "...Thomas Hoving, director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, wandered happily about, approving of everything in general and, in particular, of Warner Jepson's electronic tapes--which he wants to borrow for his museum."
May 30 Fri. The New York Times: "With a new generation of Bohemia joining in, San Francisco celebrated a $1.7 million addition to the San Francisco Art Institute at a party that was still blasting away with electronic music at 3 o'clock this morning."
1969 May "Peace" for flute and tape music, commissioned by Owen James for his graduation recital. The room [stage] is dark. As the tape sound emanates from nothing the light on stage grows like dawn. A person sits [or lies] on floor looking toward the opposite back corner of the stage. When flute-like Buchla sounds are heard the performer picks up a flute nearby and plays as if stimulated by and improvising to the heard flute. It is peaceful, personal, private. Some ominous darkness comes into the tape music causing some tension but it passes like a distant storm. Peace returns; done, the flutist lays down the flute, and returns to the original state of rest. The light and the music fade slowly out together.
1969 May 18, 25; Mountain Theater, Mt. Tamalpias State Park, Marin; "The World We Live In" Warner Jepson has composed a score of electronic music for "The World We Live In"
The play's characters were insects and electronic music was thought to be appropriate. It was the first time electronic music had been used in the Mountain Play, which usually performed Broadway musicals.
1969 Jun. 16 Thu "The Machine Show" SF Museum of Modern Art Jun. 9 Mon, SF Chronicle, France Moffat: "Having recovered, more or less, from the S.F. Art Institute's celebration of its new building, art-oriented society is getting set for the opening of the enormous machine show that will fill the galleries of the SF Museum of Art. Warner Jepson, who did the tapes for the institute's blast-off, is composing a sound track called "The Machine" to blend with the crash, clash, whir and chug of the more than 200 works of art. The show originated at the NY Museum of Modern Art."
Jun. 26 The SF Chronicle, France Moffat: "At tonight's preview of the great Machine Show, there will be a sound-activated "Musicoon" in the center of the stage of Rotunda Gallery. Guests will be urged to lean [their head] inside and listen to Warner Jepson's taped music. The Musicoon...is based on R. Buckminster Fuller's famous geodesic dome."
Jun. 27 Fri. SF Chronicle, Herb Caen: "...the opening of "The Machine Age" show, a collection of movable objects operating with irresistible force to the tune of unearthly sounds concocted by Warner Jepson. It is all weird, fantastic and demented--in short, right in tempo with times. Conclusion: One museum is alive and swinging in San Francisco."
Jun. 27 The SF Chronicle, France Moffat; "Inside the foyer, the crowds were greeted by electronic music, which was broadcast throughout galleries filled with everything from a replicas of da Vinci's flying machine to kinetic, computer and electronic sculpture."
Jun. 27 Fri., Albert Morch; A Sexy Scene Amid Machines: "If those at last night's SF Museum of Art preview of "The Machine..." weren't turned-on, they were at least tuned-in to the scene. 'The people mixture is one of the best social commentaries we've had in a long time,' said committee member Dohrmann. 'Twenty years ago there would be no cross-mingling such as this.' All of society was represented--the elite, Yellow Page Society and the rest of us. It may have been the night air...or the electronic music of Warner Jepson, but, whatever, the atmosphere was sensual. 'I think the pulsation of the Jepson tapes are sexual," said...art commission member Sally Hellyer. ...Martha Jackson, owner of [a] New York gallery disagreed. 'It sounds like someone walking with creaking feet.' ...few have ever seen a preview where everyone appeared to be having so much innocent fun."
1969 Jul. 20 Sun, "Moon Walk" party at Design Center, Front Street a huge video projection screen and television sets were placed about the rooms of the party area to watch the moon walk as it happened. I hung, rather precariously, my B. Fuller fiberglass geodesic dome from rafters over the entrance hall with lights to make it glow, and played Buchla music throughout the party until the video got exciting.
1969 Nov. 9 Sun, The Sun Gallery opening on Union Street Buchla music
1969 November "Placidity" SF Museum of Modern Art exhibited 2 single pieces in plastic by Larry Bell and Robert Irwin. a room in the SF M of Modern Art was devoted to 2 modern pieces in plastic by Larry Bell and Robert Irwin. I was asked to add music in the room to enhance their viewing (requiring another loop for the month's run).
1969 December "Christmas Party" I was asked to make music the annual family Christmas event. I went to Mills (forgetting to bring any Christmas music!) and tuned the slots in the metal strip to notes for various carols, letting the sequence add rhythm at times, and improvised some Christmas type (Austrian, I thought) music.
1970 March "The Eighties Show" U C Berkeley Art Museum artists were asked to make a piece they thought might reflect what would be happening in the '80's. I made an enclosure of various plastic materials and hanging strips of video tape for a person to enter and listen quietly to electronic music. The first Buchla 100 series I contend made much more beautiful [i.e. warmer] "nature" sounds than later series. I believe that's why people were more attracted to them.
Art Forum Jean Jaszi; "First of all, let nobody think that the Projects for the Eighties show has anything to do with the future. This show is, now, period.... I would like to mention seriously three or four presentations which I found somewhat comparable to the lyric poetical form in that they allowed the unexpected to happen....
"If you don't have it, make it--if you can remember it," is a structure by Warner Jepson only a little larger than a phone booth but full of charm. Instead of doors there are colored plastic loops filled with liquid. Visually as bright as a carnival booth, the inside is mostly blue, there is a circular foam object on the ceiling, there is a low bench or step to sit on, and there are ear-phones to put on your head. All around you loudly a sound tape is playing and when you wear the ear-phones you can hear the very same thing only, as Warner Jepson remarks, "privately." You could be riding on a train or accompanying the flight of insects. This is a pleasure trip, and as many people as can get in at once are welcome to come along...." 1970 Apr. 23 The "Plastic Presence" at SF Museum of Art Apr. 24 Fri. SF Examiner: "Giving Eleanor Dickinson, whose nudes emblazoned the plastic swing a push on the swing was talented Zap composer Warner Jepson, provider of the electronic tape music, and the 21st century-lawyers-for -savant-causes Michael Stephanian and Terence "Kayo" Hallinan..."
Apr. 24 Fri. SF Chronicle: "Plastic Playground A Museum Hit" "Wading in the plastic sandbox and swinging in the plastic hammock were diversions last evening for those attending the packed preview of the exhibition, "A Plastic Presence" at the San Francisco Museum of Art. ...Although the opening night crowd was fascinated by the collection of plastic sculpture, the real action was in the big rotunda gallery which was transformed into a sort of plastic playground...by Warner Jepson....which echoed last night to [his] throbbing electronic music."
1970 Apr. 23, Ascent, film for KQED Apr. 23, SF Chronicle, Terence O'Flaherty: "It isn't a television show; it's an experience....There is an added pleasure to "Ascent" which I am delighted to point out. For the first time in the history of the television documentary, the sound track is a welcome addition rather than an aggravating intrusion. Most of the sound is provided by the heavy breathing of the climbers... The original electronic score was composed by Warner Jepson who used it sparingly and therefore to maximum effect. Most adventure programs on TV are accompanied by 500-piece European orchestras playing "Tales From the Vienna Woods" or the "William Tell Overture"... TV Guide: Warner Jepson composed the original score for electronics and guitar.
this was an adventurous step for Virginia Duncan, a quiet determined monied wife who was a producer at KQED. She had no idea if electronic music would work for a nature film that she envisioned. It worked, won her an award, so we did a second film, "Ski Touring," for which I won an award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
1970 Sep 7 Mon. SF Chronicle Marilyn Tucker; "Peace" Sep 5, 15 Carvajal's "Peace," based on Warner Jepson's theater piece for flute and electronic score was a visual meditation of the central peace idea.
1970 Dec 8 Tue 'The Relapse' ACT production opens SF Examiner, Stanley Eichelbaum: "...The production also profits from Warner Jepson's lovely musical score, which adds considerably to the round of delights." A.C.T. hired a baroque! quartet [harpsichord, oboe, flute, cello] to play live for the performances of the play, both incidental music and accompaniment to a couple songs, that I wrote in a 17th c. style.
1971 Feb. 4,5, "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral Feb. 5 Palo Alto Times: "TOTENTANZ", when it was first done at the Opera House in the spring of 1967, was then considered to be the first ballet ever set to a score of completely electronic "music." Warner Jepson, a San Francisco composer, created the score especially for "TOTENTANZ." ...The semi-darkened cathedral with its majestic nave and sweeping arches, provided a perfect setting. In fact, the work seems even more eerie and frightening in the cathedral. ...The tableaux created by Carvajal looked as if they were right out of 14th century woodcuts. The maniacal mass dance of death and the victory of Death over all at the end brought the ballet to a stunning climax.
1971 April 27 Tue "Vis a vis-tete a tete" SECA presents at the Belgian Consul: "The society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art announces the Vernal Equinox Special Award. A sum of up to $1000 will be awarded each year to an artist or group of artists in the Bay Area to underwrite in part or in full a project in the visual or combined arts. This award is intended to promote a project in which the artist will have an opportunity to undertake a highly experimental work not circumscribed by the usual criteria and involving a high risk potential based on the idea that art is nature made by man, and that new forms...derive from a prodigal abundance prevailing over often meager survival potential.. All Entries are to be mailed to: SECAVESA San Francisco Museum of Art..."
The invitation read: "About 20 heads scattered about. One is alive. One will come looking for her face. What's-her-face's face is made. [made up] Sound singers secrets soliloquies silence. Bring, if you can, a flashlight, so they may see in the dark. Come prepared to actively participate. Bring a pillow, a flashlight, some extra clothes and an open mind...."
I recruited Peter Maccan to place 20 of his white plaster busts (stylized heads) about the room, John Graham to dance among them, a costumed woman to station herself among them, and the audience to sit about the room to view and hear it.
1971 May "Luminous Procuress" premiers at the International Film, Festival Palace of Fine Arts, and later has a run at the Presidio Theater on Chestnut St.
The film had been all but edited when the backers decided that it needed much help from someone other than the director, as well as music. Upon hearing the recorded dialog it proved useless, badly recorded, acted, and scripted. I decided to try foreign language in its place as the film was vivid enough and was meant to be somewhat pornographic, but wasn't; simply an exotic woman, sorceress, escorting two young men to visual delights above and below ground. I took about a year at home with the film using a hand viewer to see the feature length 16mm film and to synch music for it that I composed on a small Farfisa organ I'd acquired and from my Buchla sound collection, using a Revox to make a stereo tape. I enlisted a young Israeli, a Japanese woman, a Swiss-German girl, and Italian guy to record the voices for the two sets of lovers.
I asked them to speak to each other of the pleasures of eating but without mentioning any food, then steering them to other pleasures which they could speak of without embarrassment since neither could understand the other. After the two couples were successful in portraying an erotic intimacy I asked the two women to speak together continuing the mood. They succeeded without worrying about the homosexual overtones, as did the men, only one of them being gay. For the sorceress I found a Russian matron to speak of anything, taking her words and splicing them or, with the Revox, recording and re-recording little snippets of words or phrases that would be impossible to speak or understand but that took on a fascinating rhythm.
For a love theme I got a saxophonist, oboist, and violinist to play the written melody and used the Revox to combine them, both contrapuntally, and as a canon. I found this easier than writing a piece for many musicians that would take time, money, and much more from me than working by myself to achieve the same results.
When through I had put sound to every inch of the film. There was no story, only a series of episodes, each having its separate "sound." When seeing it later in theaters I would find the sound exhausting.
1971 Jun. "The Shell" Roy Nolan Productions a small fantasy film about a man discovering a "world" inside shells on a beach, another testimony that people of the drug culture were finding fantasy worlds where they could. I've renamed the score for this film "The Sea."
1971 Jun. 9 Wed Women's Wear Daily Art Institute Anniversary "...a party to celebrate the school's 100th anniversary. The students put the whole event together with the direction of Warner Jepson. ...an all-black labyrinth of thin Mylar sheets of reflecting strobe lights. Light shows were bounced off outside walls to Jepson's electronic music. ...[that gradually] filled with the smell of pot." "It was the best party yet." "You should have been at the last one two years ago [the dedication party]."
1971 The San Francisco Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences : Honors Warner Jepson, composer, for contributing to the winning of an Area Television Academy Award for "Ski Touring" KQED; "Outstanding Achievement-Single Program"
1972 Feb. 16,17,18,19 "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral
1972 May 1 National Center for Experiments in Television I become composer-in-residence, after first being asked to compose music for Stephen Beck's "Videosynthesis." One morning in late April, while I was working at the synthesizer to Steve's video, the noted French composer of music concrete, Pierre Schaefer, was visiting. Later that day the invitation to join the center was offered..
1972 Stephen Beck's "Videosynthesis" [10 min.] and Bill Gwin's "Irving Bridge" [50 min.] National Center for Experiments in TV, KQED S.F. my first scores as composer-in-residence on the Buchla 200 whose sounds I didn't like as well as those of the 100 at Mills.
1972 Nov. 10-12 "An Electric Concert" NCET at Southern Methodist U, Dallas TX Stephen Beck, on his video synthesizer, and I on Buchla's audio synthesizer, collaborated in a half-hour video and audio improvised presentation. In Dallas 5 days with all our equipment from SF NCET.
1972 Dec. 1,2 "An Electric Concert" repeated at "Arts/Media" symposium National Council on the Arts [NEA] Washington DC letter Ex. Sec Fed Council on the Arts and Humanities.: "...Stephen's and Warner's concerts were marvelous. It was exciting to see the number of people both Friday and Saturday who "swarmed" to the synthesizers and their artists to ask questions."
The Washington Post Dec 2 Sat: ...The program concluded with another audiovisual performance, this time with both music and imagery generated electronically. The composers-performers were Stephen Beck and Warner Jepson, resident artists at San Francisco's National Center for Experiments in Television. As an imaginative fusion of arts and media, it made a fitting coda for the day's activities."
1972 Dec 5 "Irving Bridge" played for students at Harvard
1972 Dec 7 "An Electric Concert" repeated at Brooklyn Academy of Music
1973 more works created at NCET resulting in 5 half-hour programs that were broadcast on Public Broadcast System under the title of "Video Visionaries." One, "Lostine," was awarded an emmy in '75. "Illuminated Music" (Stephen Beck); "Lostine" (Willard Rosenquist); "See Is Never All The Way Up" (William Roarty); "Point Lobos State Reserve" (Billy Gwin)
1973 Apr. 19,20,21,26,27,28; 23 Mon.; "The Awakening Apr. 23 SF Chronicle William Albright: Warner Jepson's tape score provided a canvas of sounds like surf and birds in rhythmic patterns...
Apr. 21 Sat SF Examiner, Alexander Fried: "It's taped score by Warner Jepson built up intense moods of obsession by its rhythmic accents mindful of telegraph codes and the mingled voices of myriad birds."
Apr. 21 Sat Oakland Tribune: "...Warner Jepson's quadraphonic electronic sounds, buzzing and jabbering in a primeval way."
1973 May 5 Festival of Contemporary Arts, Oberlin College Videotapes: Illuminated Music III & IV by Stephen Beck [video] and Homage a Matisse by Willard Rosenquist [video], Warner Jepson [audio] for both
1973 May 8 American Institute of Architect's Convention at UC Berkeley Art Museum Buchla music throughout the building for the party
1973 June 19 contract signed between "Rick Meyer, inventor of DOME and Warner Jepson, composer of music for DOME 2 The program lasted about 45 minutes. The opening music was changing drones tuned to make the red laser beam that was shown on the roof of the dome to make various patterns that were not as chaotic as ordinary music or, conversely, noise would produce.
First done at Live Oak Park, Berkeley, later at the Exploratorium, and then the SF Museum of Modern Art
1974 April 2 Mon. "Peace" Flute concert by Janet Millard, music by Richard Felciano, Wayne Peterson, Charles Boone, Charles Shere, Robert Hughes and Warner Jepson review William Albright: "The two most impressive works were Warner Jepson's "Peace" 1969 and Robert Hughes' "Sonitudes" 1970. Jepson, like Felciano, is a composer-in-residence at the National Center for Experiments in Television. His short piece is a colloquy between flute and Buchla synthesized tape. Gentle bird-call-like sounds establish the pastoral mood at once, and some ominous, threatening tape tremolos and trills soon swell and subside into a liquid background for the becalmed flute lines."
1974 April 26-28 The Electric Weasel Ensemble, Arch Street 26 Fri. music by George Crumb, Charles Buel, Toshiro Mayuzumi, Danial Lentz.... 27 Sat music by Mort Subotnick, Allen Strange, Paul Demarinis, Don Buchla... 28 Sun music by Wm O. Smith, MacDermed, Warner Jepson (Peace)... I set up the geodesic globe [from SF Museum's Plastic Presence 1970] outside on the grass
1974 Feb. 3 Sun "Musica per Machina" by AleaII, Stanford Ensemble for New Music Palo Alto Times C.D.MVES: "'POINT LOBOS STATE RESERVE' was a videotape by Billie Gwin. ...For once the music was more arresting than the images. Warner Jepson's electronic score hummed and twittered lyrically, like Debussy's "La Mer" reconceived for the space age."
1974 Mar 21,22,23,28,29,30 "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral KQED Newsroom: "Warner Jepson's electronic score sounds awesome in the cathedral, swirling around us the sounds of gongs and clangs, rhythmic Buchla sounds that echoed and re-echoed. There is as much theater as dance to TOTENTANZ, opening with an agonizing procession up the center aisle to the stage in front of the altar. These characters are traditional: Christ, Mary Magdalene, Roman soldiers. The medieval perspective is created by flagellant monks, a Popess and penitents watching silently. And what a chilling moment to see death, a real horror figure, maniacally conduct it all from the great pulpit, a platform we usually reserve for collared clerics.
The scenes that follow might come from an ancient castle tapestry. Death...separates young lovers, takes a baby from its mother's arms, and kisses the lady good-bye. And dispatches helmeted knights and crowned heads. Finally, in the dies irae, a day of wrath, the mood breaks with medieval, the choreography becomes frenzied and erotic. It is the witches' Sabbath before the altar of Grace Cathedral, or a crowded bar on a Saturday night...."
SF Chronicle, Heuwell Tircuit: For the opening of Lent, the Cathedral is presenting four performances of Carlos Carvajal's "TOTENTANZ"...with brilliantly theatrical electronic score by Warner Jepson. ...Carvajal has presented his "TOTENTANZ" several times in Grace Cathedral. It is almost a tradition. ... Warner Jepson's chilling electronic score was beautifully served by an uncommonly fine sound system. The whole technical side of the performance was amazing--lights, slides, the bare ropes of a set, costumes and music. Grace Cathedral never had it so good.
1974 Mar 29 SF Progress; "Lostine" receives a local Emmy Award "Lostine", an innovative television-as-art presentation from the National center for Experiments in Television, was produced by Willard Rosenquist, with score by Warner Jepson and mix by William Roarty.
1974 June, The Both/Up Gallery [over Cody's Bookstore, Berkeley] "Sound Images" One man exhibit of music and constructions on the walls.
1974 Art Forum, Cecile McCann: "Strange and gentle, Warner Jepson's electronic music has an almost visible presence. It can make a room seem to expand and contract, make objects in the room seem close or distant. Within this sculptural sound environment,...Jepson has scattered the cheerful surprise of ordinary things that shape themselves into playful sculptures. ...Listening Booth is a big blue bolster against a wall, surrounded by a curtaining fringe of magnetic tape that hangs like rain.
90 minutes of individual Buchla pieces played continuously for a month in the gallery with constructions I added about the room so that it wouldn't be so empty. They had nothing to do with the sound one listened to, just another form of entertainment. Some of the sound pieces were longer and more shaped than before. One of my favorites was "Star Walk" a gradual ten minute ascension of a pretty rhythmic pattern. Another one that totally fascinated me for spatial and rhythmic depth was "I'm going to stay here and see why I'm going to stay here and see why I'm ..."
1974 July, Sam Shepherd's Sidewinder; songs and incidental Buchla music, UC Berkeley Drama Department I was hired to do incidental music of the Buchla type, but was also asked to composer pop type music for the integral songs that had been played by The Who, a rock band, in the New York production that were unusable here.
1974 Halloween Party at the San Francisco Museum of Art: "Electronic Music for a Night Sky" from a letter of director : "...The effect of music and the room size projections of night phenomena was spectacular! The audience loved it."
1975 Jan 10, National Endowment for the Arts Grant to work with the Buchla synthesizer connected to a video mixer, colorizer, and keyer
1975 Jun. 27,28,29 "The Awakening" revived, Dance Spectrum
1975 June, Electronic Arts Intermix of New York buys and begins distribution of NCET videotapes Lostine [w/ Rosenquist, Roarty]; See is never all the way up [w/ Roarty]; Irving Bridge, Point Lobos State Reserve [w/ Bill Gwin]; Illuminated Music [w/ Stephen Beck]
1975 November December "Exchange/DFW/SFO" exhibition at The Fort Worth Art Museum [Texas] by Bay Area and Texas artists shown: "Excerpts from the Buchla Bulb Series," 45 minute videotape
with the NEA grant and in the last space that the NCET moved into in Berkeley before it died from loss of funding, I connected the Buchla synthesizer to a video imaging machine. The Buchla would effect spectacular bands of colors that moved with its sounds. I also aimed the camera at a white lit light bulb, or upon my face, the various light levels causing a myriad of fantastic color combinations that enthralled me, that kept me doing it for hours, months.
1976 Jan 23-Mar 7 "Exchange/DFW/SFO" exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art by Bay Area and Texas artists repeat of the Dallas/Fort Worth exhibit
1976 Mar 3,4,5,6 "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral Feb. 8 Janice Ross: "Many of these images would undoubtedly look overdone on-stage, but in the Cathedral, and backgrounded by...Warner Jepson's majestic music, they assume the didactic veracity of living stained glass."
1976 Nov. 12; letter from Media Study center Buffalo NY 207 Delaware Ave letter acknowledges receipt of copies of Bill Gwin and my collaborations at the NCET: Irving Bridge and Point Lobos
1978 Feb. 8,9,10.11; "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral SF Chronicle, Heuwell Tircuit: "...By the time it was done, one hardly knew if one dare applaud or just crawl out on hands and knees. "TOTENTANZ" was a great hit from its debut, back in 1967... ...set to Warner Jepson's highly effective score..."
1980 Mar 26, 27, 28, 29 "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral
1980 May 17 Fri. noon on the steps of the City Hall Rotunda SF Examiner: "Lesbian Chorus worked on Warner Jepson's six-minute score in the City Hall Rotunda and the sounds startled some municipal employees." "It began with loud hissing, a few giggles and heavy puffing like an old steam engine. This was followed by squeals and screeches that would not have disgraced a brood of dying cats, and an assortment of ha-has, ho-hos, hee-hees ending in a loud burst of seemingly maniacal laughter that startled the City Hall workers. ... Yesterday's weird laugh-in was a preview of Monday's Pacific Ha [conceived and produced by Judy Auda], when 20 million West Coasters are supposed to rise from their slumbers and let loose with a bedlam of guffaws. Thirty radio stations, spearheaded by San Francisco's KGO, will help laughers get in the mood by broadcasting a laugh tape also composed by Jepson, an...electronic and acoustical music expert who's working on a New York musical called "Humpty D" when he's not laughing up a storm..."
a score of laugh sounds performed by Lesbian choir of about 25
1980 May 19 Mon. 7:45 am on radio "Pacific Ha" by Judy Auda a 1 min. tape collage of laughter for broadcast at 7:45 am on KGO
1982 Mar 3,4,5,6 "TOTENTANZ" Grace Cathedral SF Chronicle, Hewell Tircuit: "No small part of the effect is due to Jepson's chilling but unobtrusive score. The thing is a masterful accomplishment, and one of the few durable electronic scores of the age. It belongs right up there with Stockhausen's "Gesang der Juenglinge."
1985 Jun. 16 "Luminous Procuress" The Cockettes also appear in "Luminous Procuress," a 1971 entry at the San Francisco International Film Festival, which will play Tuesday, June 25, 10:30 pm at the Roxie.
1985 Jun. 21-30 9th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Castro Theater "A major avant garde success in the early 1970's this film by Steven Arnold...features the legendary...drag group "The Cockettes. We follow two naive young men in their journey through an elaborate bordello comprised of a strange combination of cloisters and chambers, jungle grottos and ivied forests, banquet halls and temples--all of it located in an indefinable area of time and space. Bizarre and erotic, LUMINOUS PROCURESS was greeted with rave reviews by even mainstream critics when it was released in 1971. ...The Village Voice called it "...a west coast Satyricon..." while the LA Times said it is a "strangely compelling, highly imaginative work of unabashed hedonism." Steven Arnold died of AIDS in 1995
1989 Jun. 17,18; Amiga [computer] Festival, Concourse Exhibition Hall, Showplace Square from a stage in a fair-like atmosphere I presented various pieces composed on the Amiga computer and synthesizers
1991 Jun 16 Golden Gate Men's Chorus "War Words" a piece inspired by my anger for the Gulf War against Iraq by Pres. Bush, indeed all war by men. I composed the words for the piece as well.
1991 Nov 17 Sun "Painsong" Old First Church Concerts, Fidelio String Quartet, SGLC originally a small piano piece I put into the computer and then scored for string quartet, english horn and bassoon
An addendum comment: Rivalry or snobbishness seems invariably to pervade groups of artists working in the same medium; when an artist discovers his own tastes he might object to others'. I, having an inferiority complex early in life, in addition growing up homosexual, and on top of it composing in a style that was anything but mainstream academic "straight" music, I easily felt unincluded. I was accepted by those persons or groups who hired me, but not by my peer composers. I composed always on commission, to accompany lyrics, dance, film, drama, video art, paintings, parties.
After my separation and 6 months in Asia I wasn't composing for others and began doing it for myself, on the computer, a new toy, discovering it's assets and pleasures. With no outlet for my music--or so I believed from my experience--when The Society for Gay and Lesbian Composers formed, I joined it. Being a support group for composers who were gay--or was it for gay people who were composers--they were democratic about the music that was allowed, i.e. there were no criterion. You just had to be gay, albeit that SGLC bylaws accept straights as well (not of much significance, as what straight man would join a gay group!)
So because the criteria was being gay rather writing music like the others in the group, there was no judging. Which made for musical democracy; which item seldom exists in a straight group of men where the group is based on their members musical tastes, not their sexual ones. It didn't matter to me that I was bi, I could certainly identify as gay, but more important, my music. would be performed.
Three performances a year were scheduled. Many members who hadn't composed since college began writing music regularly. SGLC served a valuable purpose. But in time I came to believe that our audiences were small and critics didn't come (not even gay ones) because we were gay identified, so I sought to have "gay" removed from our name. Some members agreed but some, considering the founding purpose, didn't.
SGLC has survived, if negligibly, for ten years. But nothing was changed. Snobbishness of another form, persists. This one just reflects the changes taking place in society today. What's interesting is that the social need for a gay group produced music that wouldn't have been written, but because it is a gay group it's not heard or acknowledged by much of the society. Those composers who kept quiet about their gayness, i.e. Bernstein, Cage, Cowell, Copeland, Partch, Thomson, were heard aplenty; they also were good composers of course.
But what does "gay" have to do with music? The only thing I notice in our group is that few make annoying music, unpleasantly avant garde, or "ego" music where the audience be damned. In fact they care little about being new or revolutionary or arrogant, some content even to write quite pointlessly in baroque style. Interesting that this wasn't true of Cage and Cowell, significant exceptions.