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International Contemporary Ensemble
Alvin Lucier


ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble)

Photo © Armen Elliott


MCA Stage is pleased to continue a deepening partnership with ICE in the 2013/14 season. ICE and MCA Stage share an entrepreneurial approach to music by originating work and devising rehearsal and concert performance in ways that actively engage composers and open the process to the public in myriad settings. The partnership is also distinguished by a commitment to develop special projects in nontraditional formats, intimate settings, and new technology.

In its second concert of the 2013/14 MCA season, ICE performs work by Alvin Lucier. A trailblazing force for over 50 years, Lucier opens our awareness of the nature of sound and language, using the simplest of means to create beautiful and ethereal aural phenomena. His work poetically examines the acoustics of space, psychoacoustics, resonance, and other qualities of sound. Lucier has pioneered in many areas of music composition and performance, including notating performers' physical gestures, using brain waves in live performance, generating visual imagery by sound in vibrating media, and evoking the acoustics of rooms for musical purposes.



  • Fri, Mar 21, 7:30pm
  • Sitting in a Room

Running time: 70 minutes

  • Alvin Lucier himself kicks off the evening by performing his iconic 1969 work I am sitting in a room, in which his voice is recorded and then re-recorded until the sound of the voice becomes merged with the physical resonance of the room.

Special guest star: Katinka Kleijn, cello

  • I am sitting in a room(1969), for a performer and electronics
  • Music for Snare Drum, Pure Wave Oscillator, and One or More Reflective Surfaces (1990)

Miniature for Clarinet and Cello (2009)

  • Music for Piano with One or More Snare Drums (1992)

Music for Cello with One or More Amplified Vases (1992)

  • Sat, Mar 22, 7:30pm
  • Still and Moving Lines

Running time: 70 minutes

  • Lucier visualizes the sound around us by using lights to highlight the sonic valleys of the galleries. Featuring the powerful ensemble version of Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas, where sounds spin from speakers, instruments, and voice.

Special guest star: Tony Arnold, voice.

  • Spira Mirabilis(1994), for bass sustaining instrument and electric light
  • Codex(2013), for soprano, violin, oboe, guitar, cello, and clarinet in Bb
  • In Memoriam Jon Higgins(1984), for clarinet and pure wave oscillator
  • Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas(1973–74, rev. 2013), for female voice, clarinet, flute, horn, mallet instruments, string quartet, and pure wave oscillators

Directions of Sounds from the Bridge(1978), sound installation and performance for stringed instrument, audio oscillator, and sound-sensitive lights

  • Sun, Mar 23, 7:30pm
  • Pure Waves and Pendulums

Running time: 90 minutes

  • Including Nothing Is Real {bio: (Strawberry Fields Forever) and Carbon Copies, two seminal works that illustrate Lucier's magical interactions between people, things, and the natural environment.

Special guest stars: Ryan Muncy, saxophone, and Phyllis Chen, piano

  • Music for Pure Waves, Bass Drums and Acoustic Pendulums (1980)}
  • *Nothing is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)*, for piano, amplified teapot, tape recorder, and miniature sound system (1990)
  • Charles Curtis, for cello with slow sweep pure wave oscillators (2002)
  • Still Lives, for piano and sine waves (1995)
  • Carbon Copies, for saxophone, piano, percussion, and environmental recordings (1989)

Silver Street Car for the Orchestra, for amplified solo triangle (1988)

About the Artists

Avant-garde composer and performer Alvin Lucier was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1931. Lucier has a long history of compositions for electronics, voice, instruments, brain waves, echo-location devices, and more. His breakthrough composition Music for Solo Performer (1964–65) for Enormously Amplified Brain Waves and Percussion, was the first work to feature sounds generated by brain waves in live performance. Biological stimuli played an increasing role in Lucier's subsequent work, most notably through his notation of performers' physical movements. His work I am sitting in a room—using only a recording of the composer's voice, the resonance of a room, and a simple repeated process to transform voice into shimmering tones of pure sound—is regularly hailed as a landmark in 20th-century experimental composition. In the 1980s, Music on a Long Thin Wire further extended Lucier's fascination with the physics of sound. In this conceptual sculpture, a taut 50-foot wire passes through the poles of a large magnet; driven by an oscillator, the amplified vibrations yield extraordinary results. His later works include sound installations as well as works for solo instruments, chamber ensembles, and orchestra.

Learn more about Alvin Lucier

ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) was founded in Chicago in 2001, and since that time has established itself as one of the leading musical ensembles of its generation, as well as one of the most innovative young arts organizations in the United States. Described by the New York Times as “one of the most adventurous and accomplished groups in new music,” ICE performs more than 50 concerts a year throughout the United States and abroad and has commercially released six acclaimed albums. A champion of music by young composers, ICE has also given more than 400 world premieres by composers under the age of 35. On October 2, 2012, ICE's Artistic Director Claire Chase was named a MacArthur Fellow. The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.

Learn more about ICE


Support for this program is provided in part by The Amphion Foundation.