Robert Dick Performs William Hellermann

by danielgoode

Robert Dick performs William Hellermann’s
solo flute masterpiece
Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December

Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 7:30 PM

The Loft of Daniel Goode and Ann Snitow
167 Spring Street – bell #3
New York, NY  10012
subways: E. C, 6, 1, N and R

tickets $15/ $10
no advance reservations

Can you imagine a piece that combines the athleticism of an uphill marathon run on a continuously steepening course with an ethereal, other-worldly sound that takes you out of-body?

I’m excited to invite you to a truly rare experience, the first performance in decades of Bill Hellermann’s extraordinary solo flute piece Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December.  The athleticism in this piece is a non-stop circular breathing run for close to an hour!  And what is being circular breathed?  A highly evolved, gorgeous multiphonic world shimmering though a continuous breath tremolo!   This incredible duality between the physical and ethereal makes for a musical and emotional experience unlike any other.  Those who heard the premiere of this piece at Phill Niblock’s loft in 1979 remember it vividly.

Before I coalesced my identity as a composer-performer, there was a period in the 1970s when I asked a number of composers to write works for me.  Of the solo flute pieces from that time, Three Weeks…  is by far the most unique and indeed the very best.

I’ve wanted to revive this work for quite some time, and now it’s happening!  I’ll be recording Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December for New World Records on September 21 and 22, and this public performance is a celebration of the work and the wonderful friendship and collaboration between Bill and I that made it possible.

I’ll also be performing two of my pieces for solo contrabass flute, Afterimage, Before and Our Cells Know.  An extremely athletic work in its own, maximally percussive way, Afterimage, Before is surely the first flute work dedicated to Ginger Baker, my favorite rock drummer.  Our Cells Know, the title track of my recent solo contrabass flute CD on Tzadik Records, is a lyric work dedicated to the beautiful spirit of Stephanie Stone.

Bill Hellermann on Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December:

“Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December is the last of four compositions I wrote In the late 70’s for solo instruments. They all feature a focus on a specific instrumental technique that was both unusual and difficult. Three Weeks… was exceptional in that it featured three such techniques taking place simultaneously: circular breathing for close to one hour,  a continuous diaphragm tremolo, and a succession of beautiful yet very challenging multiponics.. The piece was conceived of and written in close collaboration with the extraordinary flute virtuoso, Robert Dick. Without his involvement I would never have dared to write such a piece and without him it never could have been performed. The intent of all the pieces in the group of four was to explore the special tension attained through the intense physical and mental focus demanded of the performer. This results in sounds I feel have a very complex, not entirely predictable, beauty.

The title is from a chance remark made by Peter Gordon during a conversation around the time I was finishing this piece.”

Bill Hellermann graduated from the Univ. of Wisconsin in Mechanical Engineering and arrived in NYC in 1962, where he performed in the Village as Guilliermo Brillante, flamenco guitarist. Following a series of minor miracles he became a composition student of Stefan Wolpe’s, got a DMA in Composition at Columbia, did post graduate studies with Morton Feldman at the Chock Full of Nuts at 116th & Broadway and wound up in SoHo exhibiting sculpture, scores, and photographs, as well as composing and performing.  In the 70’s he was a curator at PS 1, The Clocktower and the Alternative Museum, where he launched the first exhibitions of sound sculpture and audio art — in the process bringing into usage the term “Sound Art.” Among his many awards is a Prix de Rome from The American Academy in Rome.