The Sea Ranch Songs

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The Sea Ranch Songs (2015)


Aleksandra Vrebalov, composer
Andrew Lyndon, filmmaker

Kronos Performing Arts Association, production





1. Spirit I
2. Fort Ross Chorale
3. Gratitude
4. Numbers
5. Ideas: Condominium One
6. Creatures
7. Chapel, Rainbows
8. Elements I
9. Starry Night
10. Ideas: Barn Fugue
11. Spirit II
12. Elements II
13. Gratitude, Coda


About The Sea Ranch Songs, Vrebalov writes:
The Sea Ranch Songs celebrate the 50th birthday of The Sea Ranch, and are dedicated to the spirit, nature, and architecture of this magical place.

1. Spirit I
“Spirit I” is an homage to the Pomo Kashia Indians, the first people known to have lived on the land that is today Sea Ranch. I am grateful to Mr. Lorin Smith, the medicine man of the Kashia tribe for welcoming me into the Round House and for sharing his stories and songs with me. In his Traveler’s Song, incorporated here, I hear the welcoming and generous spirit of the Pomo people who love and belong to this land. Special thanks to State Park interpreter Robin Joy Wellman for introducing me to the Pomo community.

2. Fort Ross Chorale
Like in a dreamscape, the bell from Fort Ross and a liturgical chorus from a Russian cathedral in San Francisco take us back two hundred years when early Russian settlers and Pomos lived together, merging their cultures and religions.

3. Gratitude
In the voices of Sea Ranchers I heard a sense of wonder, belonging, magic, and gratitude as they described their relationship to The Sea Ranch. Special thanks to Susan Clark, Tom Cochrane, Rob Elder, Donlyn Lyndon, Fiona O’Neil, Sally and Jer Skibbins, Ellen Thompson, and Alice Wingwall for their inspired insights, and to the Sea Ranch Archives Committee and Rob Elder for access to recorded materials.

4. Numbers
In “Numbers,” The Sea Ranch is mapped through the longitude and latitude of the natural and built landmarks, the age of pebble conglomerates, and the square footage of hedgerows. Hearing the projected location of the White Barn as it would be millions of years from now made me think of the 50th birthday in that context: a milestone for the community, but just a tiny moment in time for the nature that surrounds us. My creative collaborator on this Song was archeologist Sea Rancher Mike Lane who chose the data and read it himself.

5. Ideas: Condominium One
“Ideas” is inspired by Condominium One, the signature piece of architecture that made The Sea Ranch famous around the world. We hear about its beginnings from Donlyn Lyndon, one of the four architects who created it 50 years ago. Condominium One’s beautiful geometry with diagonal lines, square openings, cubes and triangles framing the sky and the ocean, merges sensuality and formal discipline in a most organic way. The music I wrote in homage to it is based on the Fibonacci sequence, lines ascending/descending, akin to an eye following the contours of Condominium One nesting within and extending into the landscape.

6. Creatures
Inspired by the many visible and invisible inhabitants of The Sea Ranch… insects, crawling crabs, seals, birds. If you stand on the bluff long enough for the drama of waves and wind to wear off, you begin noticing the micro dramas – rocks and grasses buzzing with life, sparkling spider webs, mushrooms pushing upwards at the speed almost visible to a human eye, as well as the busy life of the tidepool community.

7. Chapel, Rainbows
The Sea Ranch Chapel is a quiet, intimate place that architecturally looks very different from everything around it. The stained glass windows with their elusive light reflections are like materialized rainbows – another magical yet common phenomenon at The Sea Ranch.

8. Elements I
“Elements I” is inspired by the constant, powerful movement of wind and ocean. Glorious light, splashes of the surf, an occasional pelican standing on a rock against the wind – all different manifestations of the life force in its disinterested, unforgiving, raw beauty.

9. Starry Night
A summer evening on a roof deck, millions of flickering stars. It is warm and balmy with occasional light needles zipping across the dark sky. In the far away blackness, sky meets the ocean. Guitar samples by Miroslav Tadic.

10. Ideas: Barn Fugue
The simplicity and buoyancy of the White Barn’s structure, the overlapping geometry of the ceiling with its straightforward, rhythmic polyphony, made me relate it to the form of fugue in music. The effort of a group of Sea Ranchers to gather every Saturday and work on the old, dilapidated building I hear as the layering of individual voices in a disciplined polyphony to create a complex structure. Thank you to Mary Alinder and Dick Soulé for sharing their stories, and to all who rebuilt the White Barn so that we can celebrate here today.

11. Spirit II
I worked on The Sea Ranch Songs at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program last spring. One night, with the full moon high in the sky, two coyotes showed up close to my studio. I recorded their powerful cry and took their appearance as a very good omen: they hold a central place in the cosmology of the Pomo people and other Northern California Native American tribes. Piano samples by Aleksandra Vrebalov.

12. Elements II
A cypress tree on the bluff stretches between the sky and the earth, its curvy branches and roots look like dark, solidified extensions of ocean waves. A silent reminder of existence beyond the human measure of time, it withstands the dramatic, constantly changing elements: sun, rock, wind, sea.

13. Gratitude, Coda
Happy Birthday to The Sea Ranch! Thank you to Carolyn André, Jackie Gardener, Andrea Lunsford, Donlyn Lyndon and Alice Wingwall, Greg Moore, Esther and Jim Munger, Elizabeth Somers, and Dick Soulé for the happy birthday contributions!

– Aleksandra Vrebalov
May 6, 2015
New York City


Artist biographies:

Aleksandra Vrebalov (b. 1970), a native of the former Yugoslavia, left Serbia in 1995 and now lives in New York City. She has written more than 60 works, ranging from concert music, to opera and modern dance, to music for film. Her works have been commissioned and/or performed by the Kronos Quartet, Serbian National Theater, Carnegie Hall, Moravian Philharmonic, Belgrade Philharmonic and Providence Festival Ballet. Vrebalov is a fellow of MacDowell Colony, Rockefeller Bellagio Center, New York’s New Dramatists, American Opera Projects, Other Minds Festival, and Tanglewood. Her awards include The Harvard Fromm Commission, The American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Fellowship, Barlow Endowment Commission, MAP Fund, Vienna Modern Masters, Meet the Composer, and Douglas Moore Fellowship. Her works have been recorded for Nonesuch, Innova, Centaur, Records, and Vienna Modern Masters.

A frequent collaborator with Kronos Quartet, Vrebalov most recently completed My Desert, My Rose for Fifty for the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire, which Kronos premiered at Carnegie Hall on April 2, 2016, and released the scores, recordings, as well well as additional materials, for free online. Her collaborative work with director Bill Morrison, Beyond Zero (1914–1918), was commissioned and premiered by Kronos at U.C. Berkeley’s Cal Performances in April 2014 and had its European premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival that summer. Her string quartet …hold me, neighbor, in this storm… was written for and recorded by Kronos for the album Floodplain. Her string quartet Pannonia Boundless, also for Kronos, was published by Boosey & Hawkes as part of the Kronos Collection, and recorded for the album Kronos Caravan. Vrebalov just finished a song cycle on Charles Simic’s poetry commissioned by ASCAP/Kingsford Fund and a sound installation with architect Ronit Eisenbach, converting an old bank building into a music box in Chestertown, Maryland. She is currently collaborating with choreographer Patricia Okenwa on a new piece to be premiered by Rambert Dance Company in London. For more information, please see aleksandravrebalov.com.

Andrew Lyndon is a videographer, animator, and filmmaker who makes stand-alone video, freelance multimedia work, video theater sets, and narrative film; he is a professor of animation at California College of the Arts; has been digital imaging and video instructor at Pixar Animation Studiosand is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony.  His animated video Cat Black Sea was included in the Milkbar International Film Festival in 2007, which screened in San Francisco and St. Petersburg Russia, and in 2008 he developed animation and titles for the documentary Mirrors of Priviledge; Making Whiteness Visible (2008), and motion graphics for Building the Green Economy (2008) a film by the Ella Baker Foundation. He was also a 2008 NEA Artist in Residence at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In 2010, he curated From Pencil to Pixel, an exhibition of Bay Area Animation studios for The Oakland Museum at The Oakland International Airport. In 2013 he created animation and motion graphics for The California Department of Education’s early childhood education training program, and contributed animation for the documentary “The Battle of AmFar”, Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffry Friedman, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He recently created animation for a performance by Ariadne Greif, with music by Aleksandra Vrebalov, as part of the Ferus Fest, performed at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, May 2015. For more, please visit

alyndon.com.

Photos

Aleksandra Vrebalov’s The Sea Ranch Songs was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by the community of The Sea Ranch in celebration of its 50th Birthday, with deep appreciation to our donors, John and Nancy Fox, Andrea Lunsford, Donlyn Lyndon and Alice Wingwall, Dennis and Nancy Marks, Marilyn Green and Drew McCalley, and to Jim and Mary Alinder, Tom Cochrane and Susan Clark, Susan Day, Creig and Debbie Hoyt, Alex and Anne Long, Thom Matson and Hank Stuart, George and Kathleen Myers, and Mitch and Ruth Shapiro.

The audiovisual recording of The Sea Ranch Songs was produced with generous support from Susan Day, Marilyn Green and Drew McCalley, Andrea Lunsford, Nancy and Dennis Marks, Donlyn Lyndon and Alice Wingwall, Gregory Moore, and Philip and Christina Zimbardo. Additional support was provided by members of The Sea Ranch community and other individuals.

DateLocationVenuePresenter
7-21-12London, EnglandAsia Stage - Battersea ParkLondon 2012 Festival - BT River of Music
11-5-11Vancouver, CanadaChan Shun Concert HallChan Centre for the Performing Arts
6-11-11Toronto, CanadaKoerner Hall, TELUS CentreLuminato Festival
4-29-11Houston, TexasSam Houston ParkHouston International Festival
3-14-10New York, New YorkZankel HallCarnegie Hall
5-4-09Paris, FranceThéâtre de la VilleThéâtre de la Ville
2-20-09Stanford, CaliforniaDinkelspiel AuditoriumStanford Lively Arts
8-2-08San Francisco, CaliforniaNovellus TheaterYerba Buena Center for the Arts

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