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Tom Johnson: Rational Melodies
Arcana New Music Ensemble

Saturday - 8:00pm (ET)
March 17, 2018

Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catharine St Philadelphia PA 19147
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$12 – $20


The American composer Tom Johnson (b. 1939) has made a career of quite literally composing by numbers. Motivated by mathematical concepts such as self-similarity, transformations, and tiling patterns, Johnson’s compositions are rigorously formalistic, but his use of repetition and familiar musical materials makes the underlying processes recognizable and (usually) enjoyable. The centerpiece of this concert is Johnson’s 1982 work Rational Melodies, a set of 21 short pieces each consisting of a single melodic part generated by more or less complicated mathematical procedures, creating perceptual patterns that both challenge and enchant the ears.


Johnson: Counting Keys (1982-89)
David Hughes, piano

Johnson: Rational Melodies (1982)
Tessa Ellis, trumpet
Joe Dvorak, clarinet
RJ McGhee, trombone
David Middleton, bass guitar
Dominic Panunto, bassoon

Johnson: Block Design for Piano (2005)
David Hughes, piano

The Arcana New Music Ensemble is Bowerbird’s resident ensemble for performing interesting, beautiful, and unconventional music in interesting, beautiful, and unconventional spaces. Founded in 2016, the ensemble comprises a flexible roster of more than 30 musicians and performs regularly in Philadelphia. Past concerts have featured the music of Julius Eastman, Galina Ustvolskaya, Morton Feldman, Moondog, among others.

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