Library and Auditorium
31 OCT 2020

15:30 - 20:00

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Additional Tones: A Tribute to Maryanne Amacher is an homage and an opportunity for sharing and contributing to a greater understanding and well-deserved visibility of this remarkable artist and thinker’s life and work. The program includes a conference and commented listening session by researchers and artists Amy Cimini and Bill Dietz, the interpretation of the composition for two pianos Petra by the unprecedented duo of pianists composed by an historical name - Marianne Schroeder - and the young Portuguese musician Joana Gama, and the presentation in yet another national premiere: Thomas Ankersmit's Perceptual Geographies for Serge Modular synthesizer, a piece inspired by and dedicated to Amacher.


Image: Maryanne Amacher at work at the Capp Street Project, San Francisco (1985), Photo by and Courtesy of Peggy Weil






15h30, Conference

16h30, Commented listening session of a selection of excerpts of electronic works by Maryanne Amacher



MARIANNE SCHROEDER & JOANA GAMA play “PETRA” de by Maryanne Amacher

18h00, Auditorium  



19h00, Auditorium


Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009) was an American composer especially known for her large-scale, fixed-duration sound installations and multimedia environments. She studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen and went on to collaborate with Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Her work was pioneering and visionary in several fields of musical and artistic creation such as the exploration of sound spatialization, new media, acoustic ecology, artificial intelligence and psychoacoustics.

Still in the 1960s, Amacher began working with what she called ‘long distance music’, or telematics, which would be consolidated in City Links, a series based on real time, on site mixing of sounds transmitted from several remote places and cities via telephone. In the 1970s, she specialized in working with the Triadex Muse synthesizer developed by Marvin Minsky using artificial intelligence principles. In the series Music for Sound Joined Rooms (1980 -) she used the architectural structure of the site of the installation as the physical medium of the work by resorting to idiosyncratic speaker placements. Her Mini Sound Series (1985 -) explored the potential of sounds as characters, applying the dramatic principles of television series and other popular formats to the relationship between sounds and the ways in which they were perceived and transformed across various ‘episodes’.

Her remarkable work The Sounding of Casa de Serralves: Supreme Connections, presented in 2002, can be framed within the two later series. In this sound, visual and performative installation, Serralves’ emblematic villa was transformed into a place for multidimensional and immersive experiences. The sound spread through the architectural structure, through the rooms, bedrooms, columns and anterooms. Architecture shaped the propagation of sound and the listening experience. The house’s spaces became an integral part of the sound system and the house itself a giant musical instrument. Scenic elements, or videos could be found in different rooms and, from inside the house, strange creatures were seen in the formal gardens around the villa. In addition to reflecting Amacher's research on the materiality of sound and the ways in which it propagates in space, this work also reflected the exploration of the phenomenology of aural perception (in particular the sounds emitted by the ear itself), the physicality of listening and the staging of the experience as essential elements in the perception processes.

International recognition of the importance and singularity of Amacher's work has recently translated into the acquisition of the artist's archives by the New York Public Library of Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, the constitution of The Maryanne Amacher Foundation and events dedicated to her work organized by such institutions as Tate Modern and ICA in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the São Paulo Biennial.


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Perceptual Geographyis a solo live project by Thomas Ankersmit for Serge Modular synthesizer, inspired by the pioneering research of - and dedicated to - Maryanne Amacher, who he first met in 2000 at Bard College. In these performances, Ankersmit explores different “modes” of listening: not just what and when sounds are heard, but also how and where sounds are experienced (in the room, in the body, inside the head, far away, nearby). So-called otoacoustic emissions (sounds emanating from inside the head, generated by the ears themselves) play an important role. Amacher was the first artist to systematically explore the musical use of these phenomena.

The title was borrowed from a well-known article published by Amacher in 1979 where she writes about “multiple perceptual viewpoints as response to auditory events”. The project premiered at CTM in Berlin and at a GRM night within Sonic Acts in Amsterdam.


Thomas Ankersmit is a musician based in Berlin. He plays the Serge Modular synthesizer, both live and in the studio, and collaborates with artists like Phill Niblock and Valerio Tricoli. His music is released on the Shelter Press, PAN, and Touch labels. Acoustic phenomena such as infrasound and otoacoustic emissions play an important role in his work, as does a deliberate, creative misuse of the equipment. HHe has performed at leading art institutions such as Hamburger Bahnhof and KW, in Berlin, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Kunsthalle, Basel, MoMA PS1 in New York and at experimental and contemporary music festivals around the world.

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Marianne Schroeder & Joana Gama play “Petra” by Maryanne Amacher

“PETRA” (1991), by Maryanne Amacher



Moved by a meeting with pianist Marianne Schroeder, Maryanne Amacher composed Petra for the ICSM World Music Days in Boswil, Switzerland, taking into the acoustic realm her working methodologies for electronic compositions. The piece is a sweeping, durational work based on both Amacher’s impressions of the church at Boswil and science-fiction writer Greg Bear’s short story of the same name, in which gargoyles come to life and breed with humans in a post-apocalyptic Notre Dame. There is no definitive score for Petra but rather a series of fragments and working notes left to be deciphered, recently expanded by newly discovered notes and scores from the Maryanne Amacher Archive.

The piece was originally premiered in 1991 by Schroeder and Amacher, but rarely performed ever since. A much praised recent LP release with a recording of the piece came to give it new breath. Petra’s premiere in Portugal will count with Marianne Schroeder and the young Portuguese pianist Joana Gama. 


Swiss pianist and composer Marianne Schroeder is one of the leading performers of new music today. A renowned expert on the music of Giacinto Scelsi, with whom she studied extensively, and member of composer collective Groupe Lacroix, Schroeder collaborated for many years with John Cage and has premiered works by Dieter Schnebel, Walter Zimmermann, Chris Newman, Hans Otte, Pauline Oliveros, Karlheinz Stockhausen and some 1950’s Morton Feldman, at major venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York or Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. She has made more than thirty recordings, including premieres of pieces by Stockhausen, Anthony Braxton, Feldman and Scelsi, and release the complete piano sonatas of Galina Ustvolskaya.


Joana Gama is a young Portuguese pianist who works in multiple projects, either solo or in collaborations in the areas of cinema, dance, theater, photography and music. In addition to recitals, her path has included collaborations with Luís Fernandes, João Godinho, Rafael Toral, Drumming GP, Eduardo Brito, Tânia Carvalho, Victor Hugo Pontes, João Fiadeiro, João Botelho, Manuel Mozos or Sopa de Pedra.

In 2010, with Erik Satie, O Peripatético, she started a series of projects dedicated to Erik Satie which include several concerts, records and the coordination of the edition of the book Embryons desséchés.

She has released records with labels such as Shhpuma, Room40, mpmp, Pianola, Grand Piano and Boca/Douda Correria.


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Conference and Listening Session


Amy Cimini is a historian and performer of music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Broadly, she is interested how performers, composers and audiences’ practice and theorize listening as an expression of community, sociability and political alliance, with special focus on improvisation, sound art and installation practices. Her book project, ‘Listening in the Future Tense’, examines the use of biological and ecological sound sources in late 20th century experimental music circles. 

Cimini has researched, given talks and written about the work of Maryanne Amacher. She is the author of ‘Wild Sound: Maryanne Amacher and the Tenses of Audible Life’, a book to be published with Oxford University Press.


Bill Dietz is a composer and writer. Since 2012, he has been co-chair of Music/Sound in Bard College’s MFA program. His work on the genealogy of the concert and the performance of listening has brought him to festivals such as MaerzMusik and Donaueschinger Musiktage, museums such as Hamburger Bahnhof, Tate Modern and das Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, and publications such as Performance Research Journal, boundary 2, and the 2014 Whitney Biennial catalogue. From 2016 to 2017 he was Professor of Sound at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. In 2015 a monograph on his Tutorial Diversions was released. He is a founder member of The Maryanne Amacher Foundation created with the aim of broadening a greater public’s understanding of Amacher and her work.


Amy Cimini and Bill Dietz are members of Supreme Connections, a group of Amacher’s former collaborators that joined forces to collectively engage with the questions of the posthumous life of her site-adaptive work They are editors of the forthcoming book Maryanne Amacher: Selected Writings and Interviews, the first ever book-length collection devoted to a composer whose life and work are as vast as they are as yet unknown.

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