On April 15th Joe Monzo, Francisco Oryzan, and I went to the Claremont Colleges campuses for the MicroFest 2006 festivities, commemorating the 80th birthday of microtonal composer Ben Johnston. He was not able to attend the symposium in his honor, but was available through a video conferencing hookup and gave a talk about his life and "revisionist" compositional style expanding the tonal resources through his extended just intonation notation. His notation has become for many, the standard of the recent just intonation composition work by contemporary just composers. Joe Monzo is working on the inclusion of this notation in the Beta release of Tonescape coming out later this year.
There were presentations of several lectures during the day including Johnston's publisher Sylvia Smith, Craig Grady, Joe Monzo, Bill Alves, Kyle Gann, John Schneider, and T.J. Troy. All of the presentations focused on different aspects of Johnston's work, and several were about pieces that were later performed at that evening's performance. The conference was also attended by 1/1 editor and Just Intonation Network workhorse David Doty, and long time microtonal supporter and Xenharmonikon editor John Chalmers. The concert included solo pieces on contra-bass, piano, clarinet and guitar/voice, and duets on violin and piano (mallets on the piano structure).
Sonic Arts Gallery has recently compiled four new "Studio Logs" which were available for conference-goers. These two to three hour MP3's represent a selection of the Electronic Microtonal Improvisation work of Jonathan Glasier and Brink McGoogy during the first three months of 2006. They are a soft mix down from ADAT to CD and transferred to the MP3 format. They are available through Sonic Arts (P.O. Box 620027, San Diego 92162) for ten dollars ($10) each plus two dollars shipping.
Microfest continues through the end of May with performances of the music of Lou Harrison, Craig Grady and Harry Partch. For more information on the entire MicroFest series, please visit the Web site at www.microfest.org and listen to KPFK 90.7 every Thursday in May for special previews of MicroFest 2006.