ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor

Roger Reynolds
Cover of Roger Reynolds

From Montage:

In 1960 a group of avant-garde composers came together in Ann Arbor to present the ONCE Festival, a modestly-scaled, artist-run event that would occur annually for several years and came to have an enormous impact on the American contemporary music scene.

The festival’s founders (see below right) were the superbly gifted composers Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, Roger Reynolds, Donald Scavarda, and the late George Cacioppo, all of whom interacted with Ross Lee Finney, the U-M School of Music’s then composer-in-residence, as well as visiting composer Roberto Gerhard.

The ONCE Festival was hugely successful, as composers and performers embraced the opportunity to have their work heard by their peers as well as the general public. The Festival, which was hosted six times beginning in the early 1960s, had a significant impact on the American arts and contemporary music scene; one of the enduring outcomes was the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

On this 50th anniversary of the ONCE Festival, composers Ashley, Mumma, Reynolds, and Scavarda will reunite in Ann Arbor for the first time.

“The ONCE festivals of music that took place in Ann Arbor during the 1960s, we now know, set in motion a movement in American avant-garde and contemporary music that resonated for years,” said Christopher Kendall, dean of U-M’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance. “The work of these courageous pioneers set the stage for the formation of the Center for Performing Arts Technology at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance 25 years ago.”
This celebration of the ONCE Festival’s pioneering contributions to the American arts and contemporary music scene will include a concert of historic works selected by the composers themselves, and a second concert featuring their more recent creations.

Institute for the Humanities Presents: John Cage Installation: “Lecture on the Weather”
September 20-November 5
Institute for the Humanities Gallery

Institute for the Humanities Presents: ONCE. MORE. Exhibition
October 11-November 5
Institute for the Humanities Common Room

November 2, 8:00PM
Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor

Institute for the Humanities Presents: ONCE. MORE. Symposium
November 3, Time TBA
Rackham Amphitheater, Ann Arbor

Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series: Laura Kuhn: John Cage’s “Indeterminacy”
November 4, 5:00PM
Michigan Theatre

Institute for the Humanities Presents: ONCE. MORE. Exhibit Celebration
November 4, 6:30PM
U-M Institute for the Humanities

UMS Presents: ONCE NOW (see program below)
November 4, 8:00PM
Rackham Auditorium, Ann Arbor
· Roger Reynolds : MOSAIC (1962) flute and piano (1962)
· Robert Ashley : in memoriam…CRAZY HORSE (symphony) (1963) 32 instrumentalists
· Gordon Mumma : LARGE SIZE MOGRAPH (1962) piano
· Donald Scavarda : GROUPS FOR PIANO (1959)
· Ashley : in memoriam…ESTEBAN GOMEZ (quartet) (1963)
· Scavarda : FilmSCORE for Two Pianists (1962)
· Scavarda : GREYS, A FilmSCORE (1963) performed silently
· Scavarda/Mumma : GREYS, A FilmSCORE (1963) performed with stereo electronic music
· George Cacioppo : CASSIOPEIA (1962) piano
· Mumma : SINFONIA for 12 instruments and magnetic tape (1958-60)
· Scavarda : MATRIX FOR CLARINETIST (1962)
· Reynolds : A PORTRAIT OF VANZETTI (1962-63) narrator, ensemble, and multichannel tape

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