Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze!
If Michael Gordon’s Timber, one of Luigi Russolo’s futurist noise intoners, and Captain Ahab had a ménage à trois in a dentist’s office, the resultant surreal, minimalist, psychosexual, theatrical, microtonal tour-de-force of a music-baby would be Luciano Chessa’s Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze!: A Meditation Over Chapter 94 of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The musical material uses as its foundation a short modello that is, over the course of 60+ minutes, twisted, modulated, and melted into a sumptuous bath of microtonal drones, a bath from which the modello re-emerges and accelerates to a rapid and increasingly tense climax. In some ways, the piece can be viewed as a setting of Melville’s text; an excerpt from the chapter is recited through a megaphone by the composer roughly halfway through the performance. Taken as a whole, however, the piece allows the listener to become truly immersed in the sound world conjured by the microtonal instruments and the amplified sounding objects that create noises both immediately recognizable and profoundly otherwordly.
The piece is semi-site-specific, as it is intended to be performed at sea. The choice that is at once literal and allegorical, and imposes the destruction of the boundaries between stage and audience and performer and spectator. Whatever distinction existed between these concepts would be blurred to irrelevance by the piece’s end. An onstage fishmonger will be serving canned fish and coffee aboard the cruise, and the audience, of about 100 members, will be invited onstage to partake two thirds of the way through the performance.
On November 11, 2016, the ensemble will present Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze! on a yacht in the San Francisco Bay. The show features stage direction from Luciano Chessa, set and costume design by Terry Berlier, lighting direction by Dennis Aman, and a cast of lightbearers, and an onstage fishmonger. The work is adaptable to virtually any manner of nautical venue.
In 2017, the work will be released in recorded form as a concert film directed by John Sanborn.
Luciano Chessa is among the most interesting and inventive minds currently working in the Bay Area. Active as a composer, performer, conductor and musicologist, Chessa’s work draws heavy influence from experimentation, blending unorthodox ideas with classical form. Imaginative in its embrace of the avant-garde, Chessa’s music quickly reveals the promise of the timbral and conceptual possibilities afforded by his innovative approach. Chessa’s music has featured prominently on programs across Europe, Australia and the United States. Recent premieres include Come un’infanzia, for guitar and string quartet (2011) premiered by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and A Heavenly Act(2011), an opera on libretto by Gertrude Stein commissioned by SFMOMA to compliment Virgil Thompson’s 1934 opera Four Saints in Three Acts. The work premiered on August 19, 2011, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, in a staged production by the Ensemble Parallèle, conducted by Nicole Paiement and featuring video by Kalup Linzy.
Luciano Chessa has lectured at St. John’s College of Oxford, UK, Columbia University, Harvard University, Sydney’s and Melbourne’s Conservatories and Universities, the Conservatory of Music in Bologna, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and EMPAC in the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He currently serves on the composition faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Terry Berlier is an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily with sculpture and expanded media.Her work is often kinetic, interactive and/or sound based and focuses on everyday objects, the environment, ideas of nonplace/place and queer practice.
Berlier has exhibited in solo and group shows both nationally and internationally including the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco, Catherine Clark Gallery, Southern Exposure, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery at Stanford University, Montalvo Arts Center, Weston Art Gallery, Babel Gallery in Norway, Richard L. Nelson Gallery, Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento, Kala Art Institute Gallery, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Natural Balance in Girona Spain and FemArt Mostra D’Art De Dones in Barcelona Spain. She has received numerous residencies and grants including the Center for Cultural Innovation Grant, the Zellerbach Foundation Berkeley, Artist in Residence at Montalvo Arts Center, Arts Council Silicon Valley Artist Fellowship, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research Fellow at Stanford University, Recology San Francisco, Hungarian Multicultural Center in Budapest Hungary, Exploratorium: Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception in San Francisco, California Council for Humanities California Stories Fund and the Millay Colony for Artists. Her work has been reviewed in the BBC News Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and in the book ‘Seeing Gertrude Stein’ published by University of California Press. Her work is in several collections including the Progressive Corporation in Cleveland Ohio, Kala Art Institute in Berkeley California and Bildwechsel Archive in Berlin Germany.
John Sanborn is an award-winning, world-renowned media artist whose body of work reaches from the technological stone age of the 1970’s to the digital high-tech bleeding edge of today. His media work has manifested as television, installations, games, Internet experiences and plain old video art.
Sanborn’s works have been shown at almost every major museum in the world, including the Whitney Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Prado, Madrid; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Seibu Museum, Tokyo. His video works have been broadcast world-wide, including 16 half-hours for PBS featuring works with Bill T. Jones, Philip Glass, Twyla Tharp, The Residents, and David Gordon. A dance work created for “Great Performances” starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and directed by Sanborn won three Emmy Awards. Sanborn worked in High-Definition Television, creating works for SONY (“Infinite Escher”), and NHK-TV. Sanborn has also directed over 30 music/videos (including works with Nile Rodgers, Sammy Hagar, Philip Glass, Tangerine Dream, Peter Gordon, Grace Jones, King Crimson and Van Halen) and designed and directed dozens of commercials for clients including Nintendo, Hitachi, Pioneer; and The Disney Channel. His video self-portrait “Quirky” was purchased for broadcast on the PBS series “The Independents”, hosted by Buck Henry.
John Sanborn was granted an honorary Masters of Cinema degree from ESEC, in Paris, and was recently named a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of France. John Sanborn lives in Berkeley California.