ACME to Release Rediscovered Music by Joseph Byrd on New World Records

ACME to Release Rediscovered Music by Joseph Byrd on New World Records

The American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) is proud to announce its first Worldwide release on New World Records, JOSEPH BYRD: NYC 1960-1963, available February 5, 2013. The album is the first commercial recording of the concert music of composer Joseph Byrd, and includes music he wrote over the three years he spent in New York from 1960 to 1963. During this short but prolific time he studied under Morton Feldman, apprenticed under John Cage, was secretary to Virgil Thomson, and had concerts at both Yoko Ono's Greenwich Village loft and the Recital Hall at Carnegie.

Joseph Byrd was born in 1937 and studied at the University of Arizona (B.M., 1959) and Stanford University (M.A., 1960). Part of the experimental arts scene in New York and Los Angeles in the 1960s, he also founded the psychedelic rock bands The United States of America and Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies. Of his time in New York, he wrote, "New York in the early '60s was intoxicating. There was every kind of artistic activity imaginable . . . The city teemed with young artists and writers, musicians and dancers, and there was a sense of being 'on the axis of the wheel of life.'" During these years, Byrd continued his association with La Monte Young, whom he had met while at Stanford, and collaborated with many artists associated with the Fluxus movement. From 1960 to 1962, Young organized a series of concerts at Yoko Ono's loft, including a program dedicated exclusively to Byrd's music on March 4 and 5, 1961.

ACME's New World Records album includes Joseph Byrd's Animals for solo prepared piano (1961); Loops & Sequences, written for cellist Charlotte Moorman in 1961; Three Aphorisms for solo prepared piano (1960); Densities I (1962) for solo viola with four treble instruments; Four Sound*Poems from 1962, each of which is dedicated to a woman active in the experimental arts scene in New York - composer Lucia Dlugoszewski, pianist Judy Winkler (now Judy Eda), poet Diane Wakoski, and cellist Charlotte Moorman; String Trio (1962); Water Music (1963) for percussion and tape, written for percussionist Max Neuhaus; and Prelude to "The Mystery Cheese-Ball" (1961), a whimsical prelude to Byrd's chamber opera which was performed by Jackson Mac Low, Yoko Ono, David Tudor, Diane Wakoski, La Monte Young, and Joseph Byrd at Yoko Ono's loft in 1961. The score instructs each player to release air from an inflated balloon as slowly as possible, resulting in an otherworldly polyphony.

When Byrd's music was performed at Carnegie in 1962, Eric Salzman of The New York Times described the concert as a "thimbleful of tiny sounds" which were "generally just this side of the threshold of inaudibility." Byrd stated in Richard Kostelanetz's The Theatre of Mixed Means from 1968, "The obligation - the morality, if you wish - of all the arts today is to intensify, alter perceptual awareness and hence, consciousness. Awareness and consciousness of what? Of the real material world. Of the things we see and hear and taste and touch." The music on JOSEPH BYRD: NYC 1960-1963 thus lends itself to careful and attentive listening, and celebrates subtle shifts in texture and timbre.

ACME Artistic Director Clarice Jensen said, "Discovering and deciphering the music of such a rich and nearly unknown voice was a terribly valuable experience for all of us. In recording Joseph's music, it is our honor to introduce this important work to our repertoire, and we hope to the repertoire of other ensembles as well."

ACME players on JOSEPH BYRD: NYC 1960-1963 are Clarice Jensen, cello; Timothy Andres, piano; Caleb Burhans, violin; Caroline Shaw, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Chihiro Shibayama, marimba; Chris Thompson, vibraphone; and C.J. Camerieri, trumpet; with Alan Zimmerman, percussion.

JOSEPH BYRD: NYC 1960-1963
New World Records (80738-2) | Release Date: February 5, 2013
American Contemporary Music Ensemble | Clarice Jensen, Artistic Director | And Alan Zimmerman
Co-producers: Alan Zimmerman, Clarice Jensen, and Dan Bora

1. Animals (1961) 10:06
Timothy Andres, prepared piano solo; Caleb Burhans, violin; Caroline Shaw, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Clarice Jensen, cello; Chihiro Shibayama, marimba; Chris Thompson, vibraphone

2. Loops and Sequences (1961) 7:36
Clarice Jensen, cello; Timothy Andres, piano

3-5. Three Aphorisms (1960) 3:17
Timothy Andres, prepared piano

6. Densities I (1962) 9:53
for viola solo with 4 treble instruments Nadia Sirota, viola solo; C.J. Camerieri, trumpet; Clarice Jensen, cello; Chihiro Shibayama, marimba; Chris Thompson, vibraphone

7. Four Sound*Poems (1962) 3:20
Clarice Jensen, Caroline Shaw, Nadia Sirota & Chris Thompson, speakers

8-9. String Trio (1962) 11:07
Caleb Burhans, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Clarice Jensen, cello

10. Water Music (1963) 12:40
for percussion solo and electronic tape
Alan Zimmerman, percussion

11. Prelude to "The Mystery Cheese-Ball" (1961) 3:41
for antiphonal rubber balloons Timothy Andres, Caleb Burhans, Clarice Jensen, Caroline Shaw, Nadia Sirota, Chihiro Shibayama & Chris Thompson, balloons

About Joseph Byrd:
Joseph Byrd (born 1937) received a B.Mus. at the University of Arizona in 1959 and an M.A. at Stanford in 1960. During his three years in New York he studied under Morton Feldman, apprenticed under John Cage, was secretary to Virgil Thomson, and staff arranger and producer for Capitol Records.

He was involved in the seminal new-music, concept art, and performance art avant-garde movements in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1950s, New York City in the early 1960s (a founding member of Fluxus), and Los Angeles in the mid-1960s. His first New York concert was at Yoko Ono's loft in Greenwich Village in 1961. Together with experimental jazz musician Don Ellis, he founded the New Music Workshop at UCLA in 1963, and co-produced with Barbara Haskell the first West Coast festival of experimental arts in 1966. Throughout the mid-1960s he produced happenings, wrote for the LA Free Press, lectured at the Pasadena Art Museum and elsewhere, and wrote the liner notes for John Cage's LP of Variations IV. In 1967 he formed an electronic-sound/performance-art rock band, The United States of America, and released two albums on Columbia Records in 1967 and '68. Then and subsequently he designed "user specs" for pioneer analog synthesizer manufacturers Tom Oberheim and Donald Buchla, and was the first rock artist to use synthesis in combination with live instruments.

From the late 1960s he worked in Los Angeles as composer/arranger, electronic synthesist, and music director for film, radio, and television programs, record companies, and ad agencies. Artists for whom he wrote and produced include Linda Ronstadt, Phil Ochs, The Los Angeles Brass Quintet, The Harvey Pittel Saxophone Quartet, The Gregg Smith Singers, Su Harmon, Miles Anderson, Ry Cooder, and David Lindley. He moved to Humboldt County in the 1990s, where he is Adjunct Professor of Music at College of the Redwoods in Eureka.

About ACME:
Led by artistic director and cellist Clarice Jensen, American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. The ensemble presents cutting-edge literature by living composers alongside the "classics" of contemporary music. ACME's dedication to new music extends across genres, and has earned them a reputation among both classical and rock crowds. ACME has performed at Carnegie Hall, BAM, The Kitchen, Le Poisson Rouge, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim, Columbia's Miller Theatre, All Tomorrow's Parties in the UK, and Stanford Lively Arts in California, among many others.

ACME's instrumentation is flexible and includes some of New York's most sought after, engaging musicians. Since its first concert season in 2004, the ensemble has performed works by John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars, Caleb Burhans, John Cage, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Jacob Druckman, Jefferson Friedman, Philip Glass, Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen, Nico Muhly, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Arnold Schoenberg, Kevin Volans, Charles Wuorinen, Iannis Xenakis, and more.

ACME was founded by cellist Clarice Jensen, conductor Donato Cabrera, and publicist Christina Jensen, and has received support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Cary New Music Performance Fund, and the Greenwall Foundation. ACME is managed by Bernstein Arts, Inc. For more information visit

About Alan Zimmerman:
Producer and percussionist Alan Zimmerman was born, reared, and educated in Texas. After spending time in Japan and Jamaica, he migrated to New York City in 1985, where he is currently Executive Vice-President at Kensico Properties. Alan can also be heard on Eric Richards's the bells themselves (New World Records 80673).

About New World Records:
Anthology of Recorded Music, Inc., which records under the label New World Records, was founded in 1975. Like the university press, New World preserves neglected treasures of the past and nurtures the creative future of American music. Through the production of over 400 recordings some 700 American composers have been represented. In an industry obsessed with million-unit sales and immediate profits, New World chooses artistic merit as its indicator of success.

The company was founded with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation with a mandate to produce a 100-disc Anthology of American music encompassing the broadest possible Spectrum of musical genres. This set of recordings, together with their extensive liner notes, provides a core curriculum in American music and American studies. In 1978 the Anthology was completed and distributed free of charge to almost 7,000 educational and cultural institutions throughout the world. An additional 2,000 Anthologies were sold at cost to other similar institutions. Through these recordings two hundred years of music and American cultural history are brought to life.

The company currently releases twelve to sixteen new titles per year. Over the years, nineteen New World titles have received Grammy Award nominations and three of them have won- Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra in 1984, Leonard Bernstein's Candide in 1986, and Ned Rorem's String Symphony, Sunday Morning, Eagles in 1989. For more information visit