Works For Entire Cities

Compositions for Entire Cities

Composer’s statement concerning further performances of such works:  These large city works are time and site specific, which means they cannot and should not be re-created in another city at another time.   Repeats of, for example, the San Francisco work would have no validity or justification of a repeat performance.  Times change.  City-temperaments change.  “Approaches” to such large works and the involvement of time and space change.

August 20, 1969: The premiere of  39 MINUTES FOR 39 AUTOS, a work for the entire city of San Francisco.

From SOURCE MAGAZINE:  “On an August evening in l969 on the summit of Twin Peaks overlooking San Francisco, Robert Moran, in collaboration with artist Paul Crowley, realized this first city-work.  Several local radio and television stations (KPFA and KQED Radio and TV) broadcast the event live, while buildings in downtown San Francisco performed light displays (all according to precise cuing) on their facades.  The television station presented not only the live images but a mandala of numbers around the central images, giving the viewers “instructions” when to turn their house lights off and on, so that entire hills of homes and businesses where, from any distance, blinking for these 39 minutes (the title of the work and the number 39 comes from the consultation with the Chinese oracle book, the I Ching).    Home radio speakers were put out of windows.  Car horns throughout the city were given radio signals for honking.   The 39 autos atop Twin Peaks were given light cues by Moran for honking…all of these auto sounds then fed into a live electronic mix and fed to both radio and tv stations.  According to the local electric company, over 100,000 persons participated in this “Gesamtkunstwerk”.

SOURCE MAGAZINE, Issue Number 7, presents some of the visual mixes for tv along with Moran’s ‘musical cue scores’.

The success of this first city work brought Moran the second city
composition, a commission from the City of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and
Jonathan Elkus, Lehigh University, sponsored by the Globus Series.

HALLELUJAH for the City of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; premiered on April 23, 1971, written for the entire city and its performing ‘forces’ including 20 marching bands, 40 church choirs, organs, carillons, 4 rock groups, strolling music ensembles, Black Gospel choir, etc..   The work is
dedicated to the Memory of Charles Ives. The performance began at 7:30pm with the sounding of church bells throughout Bethlehem.  Fifteen minutes later, from various roof tops (Hotel Bethlehem, City Hall, etc.) were heard fanfares.  The musical materials were taken from early Moravian tunes and hymns.  At 8pm the many bands were put onto busses, and with everyone playing ‘out the windows’ as the busses moved through the town, everyone reached the various parks in Bethlehem, where they were greeted by rock groups and other musical ensembles. Light shows were projected upon synagogues.  Church choirs strolled from one church to the other while singing the various tunes arranged by the composer.  The entire work continued well after the ‘end’ of HALLELUJAH with parties and music.

PACHELBEL PROMENADE was commissioned by the Styrian Autumn Festival for the Altstadt of Graz, Austria, and premiere in the Fall of 1975, throughout the old walled city.   Based upon the yet-to-be “hit tune” Pachelbel Canon, Moran wrote for every musical ensemble in Graz, with all of the musical materials a variation of this famous canon.   Ensembles included the opera orchestra and vocal soloists, a guitar and harp ensemble of l0 performers, an ancient Stryian folk ensemble, which included the Hackbrett, the folk zither, a ‘country’ fiddle, the ancient Glachter, etc., chamber ensembles with choir boys, jazz ensemble, chamber orchestra, etc..   These ensembles were heard throughout the Altstadt.  The Promenade title refers to the individual pathway of each auditor throughout the area during the performance.   The performance ended at 9pm.  Moran’s work for viola and orchestra, ANGELS OF SILENCE, had its premiere in the Dom Cathedral at 10pm that same evening.
An lp recorded document-mix of the various ensembles was available via the Festival Office, and has been transferred to cd on a private issue,
available by:

Charlotte Benson Music Publishers
PO Box 54202
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Because of the success of this work, it has had a number of performances in the Grazer Altstadt the following festivals

FROM THE MARKET TO ASYLUM, a city work for Hartford, Connecticut, and premiere in the downtown area in June 1982; commissioned by Real Art Ways, and incorporating many performing ensembles throughout the Hartford area. The Jamaican Hummingbirds (vocal ensemble), various folk groups dancing and performing early Polish street-performance, British street-dancing from the 1730s, all in costumes, performance artists, rock groups, etc..


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