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Alternating Currents Live

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  Alternating Currents Live:
Making Sounds Musical
Alternating Currents Live had its official inauguration in September 1995 with a solo performance by Dutch saxophonist Luc Houtcamp. I had already been on WMSE with a Sunday night radio show called Alternating
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Clockwise from upper left: Steve Nelson-Raney, Mary Oliver, Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann, Assif Tsahar, Cooper-Moore, Paul Rutherford
Currents—a name inspired by a book of essays by poet Octavio Paz—for two years and Anne Kingsbury and Karl Gartung invited me to extend this radio show into a series of related concerts in the gallery at Woodland Pattern. With the encouragement and support of WMSE's station manager Tom Crawford, Alternating Currents Live was quickly off and running.

Our second concert that first season brought the percussion duo of Hamid Drake and Michael Zerang up from Chicago with an evening that included the unforgettable set length "Tribute to Edward Blackwell," a homage to Ornette Coleman's extraordinary drummer whose work had been influential on both Mr. Zerang, Mr. Drake, and so many modern jazz drummers.

Working closely with other new music series based in the midwest, particularly through Chicago's Experimental Sound Studio, the Outer Ear Festival, and the Empty Bottle, Alternating Currents Live has been able
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Clockwise from upper left: Henry Grimes, Nicole Mitchell, Josh Abrams, David Boykins, Brandon Terzic, Ravish Momin, Sam Bardfeld
to present composers, performers, and improvising musicians from around the world with particular emphasis on composer/performers who bring their unique musical sensibilities to the creation of very personal and individual work.

From the beginning I've felt that the music programming at Woodland Pattern should reflect the same dedication to personal exploration, sensitivity to the means and methods of communication, and the power of shared interaction with the world around us as expressed in the arts of looking and listening, as is intrinsic to the literary arts presented at Woodland Pattern all year around.

Alternating Currents Live, building upon the exceptional programming done by Thomas Gaudynski in the 1980s, offers an opportunity to hear challenging and finely crafted music in the intimate physical and acoustic space of Woodland Pattern's gallery. We've always sought to present musicians who will be sensitive to that intimacy, i.e. who are able to listen to the audience listen, in terms of musical dynamics and creativity. Even if the music may be completely unfamiliar and, on first encounter, a challenge to many ideas about what is conventionally musical, this closeness to the act of making sounds musical can offer an exceptional doorway into a fresh and memorable concert experience.

- Hal Rammel, March 2007

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