Mario at 80

cpemcMario Davidovsky will soon be turning 80. His birthday, and his music, will be celebrated at an all-Mario concert, to be held in NYC at Merkin Concert Hall on March 4. The performers are first-rate and include several long-time advocates of his work:

Cygnus Ensemble
Elizabeth Farnum, soprano
Aleck Karis, piano
Curtis Macomber, violin
Barry Crawford, flute
Chris Finckel, cello
Lois Martin, viola

I had the privilege of studying with Mario in the 1980’s, and have always admired his music for its passion, wit, and exquisite craft.

Go here for a New Music Box interview with Mario.

The picture above shows Mario with colleagues at one of the studios of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center – I would say this is from the mid-sixties.  In the front row (L to R) are Milton Babbitt, Vladimir Ussachevsky, and Otto Luening; behind them are Bulent Arel, Pril Smiley, Mario Davidovsky, and Alice Shields. (For you gearheads: yes, that’s a Buchla that Milton is leaning his hand on; I think the 4-track that Otto is leaning against is an Ampex. The mixer is behind Pril and Mario, and is a custom-built device with rotary potentiometers, not sliders, and switches to direct a channel’s signal to various locations in the studio. The rotary knobs permitted tricks like doing a one-handed crossfade by fitting a rubber band around adjacent knobs with a twist in the band – turn one knob clockwise, the other would move counterclockwise. On the tape recorder behind Alice, the part sticking up above the device at a slight angle held an adjustable capstan. You could run the tape up to that capstan, which would permit you to adjust the distance between the recorder’s heads, resulting in longer or shorter intervals of time between attacks for tape echo.)

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