Carbon Song Cycle

a work for chamber ensemble and expanded cinema

music by Pamela Z video by Christina McPhee

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Carbon Song Cycle is a work for chamber ensemble and expanded cinema by composer/performer Pamela Z and media artist Christina McPhee. The work is inspired by ongoing changes and upheavals in the earth's ecosystem, and by the carbon cycle—the process through which carbon is exchanged between all terrestrial life forms and domains. It is scored for a chamber ensemble of voice & electronics, viola, cello, bassoon, and percussion and immersive, multi-screen video projections.

To compose the music, Pamela knitted together melodic motifs inspired by scientific data around the carbon cycle and texts referencing environmental balance and imbalance–playing on the idea of the natural exchange of elements by passing sonic material between the players, and exploring audio elements related to the imagery in Christina’s video material. The video is built from footage that Christina shot at petroleum fields, natural gas locations, and geothermal sites around back-country California along with carbon-inspired drawings and images of processes involving intense heat and chemical transformations.

The piece premiered at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive in April 2012, where the artists explored working site-specifically – mapping video to the architecture of the immense gallery. For future performances, the multi-channel video projections will be mapped and reconfigured for screens and architectural surfaces of the venues in question.

The ensemble for the premiere was Pamela Z (music composition and voice & electronics), Christina McPhee (video composition, installation, and performance), Dana Jessen (bassoon), Charith Premawardhana (viola), Theresa Wong (cello and voice), and Suki O’Kane (percussion).  For the November 2013 New York premiere, New York musicians Marika Hughes and Russell Greenberg performed the cello and percussion parts. The original ensemble will perform the work in San Francisco at Joe Goode Annex in February of 2014.

Carbon Song Cycle is commissioned by New Music Bay Area and is made possible in part by grants from the MAP Fund and New Music USA's Commissioning Music USA program.  The New York Premiere was made possible by generous donations from Anonymous, Jesse Bear, Linda Bouchard, Ky Boyd, Seth Brenzel, Laura Carmichael, Terri Cohn, Nikola Colendich, Nicholas Croft, Elise de Jong, John Drumheller, Elizabeth Dungan, Hank Dutt, Dina Emerson, Anne and Peter Esmonde, Thea Farhadian, Frank Ferraro, Evelyn Ficarra, Jeanne C. Finley, Joshua Fried’s RADIO WONDERLAND, Ellen Fullman, Andrew Gilbert, Sam Green, Donna Hill, Lyn Horton, GH Hovagimyan, Brenda Hutchinson, Liz Keim, Kathy Ketman, Kevin Killian, David King, Chris Komater, Joe Lasqo, Dohee Lee, John Lehnert, Sue LeSeure, Scott Lines, Arel Lucas, David Luebke, Frederick C. Luebke, Miya Masaoka, David Mather, Silvia Matheus, Christina McPhee, Ian McPhee, Thomas Miller, Suki O'Kane, Adria Otte, Carol Palmer, Robert Paterson, John Glenn Paton & Joan Thompson, Jean Piché, Marco Pinter, Mark Pritchard, Stephen Prutsman, Julie Queen & Paul Lundahl, Steven Rabinowitz, Robin Richardson, Gary Schilling, Marianne Kary Schulman, Claude Shade, Todd Shalom, Karen Shunk, Jessica Silverman, Thomas Steenland, Graham Stewart, Ronald Thompson, Beth Warshafsky, Damien Weldon, Bonnie Wright, Pamela Zoline & John Lifton.

large scale performance works | repertoire index | Pamela Z Productions | contact | home





video excerpts

50 minutes

world premiere:
BAM / PFA Berkeley CA

New York premiere:

Roulette Brooklyn, NY

upcoming performances:

Joe Goode Annex
San Francisco, CA




Updated 1/22/14 7:13 PM