Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Third synthSIG meeting April 1, 2009

This meeting of synthSIG we had the unique opportunity to visit the recording studio that is part of The University of the Arts School of Music. In this studio there are two Moog synthesizers and one Arp 2600 synth. The large modular Moog was the fourth one built by Robert Moog and has been lovingly restored and maintained in nearly perfect condition. Yes there are a few glitches but what can one expect for a device that is easily over forty years old. Analog lives!

We were very privileged to have Professor Andrew Rudin (now retired from teaching but not composing) who gave an energetic talk on his background with emphasis on how he became involved with electronic music while a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. He studied with George Rochberg and having seen the Moog synthesizer at the dance studio of  Alwin Nikolai he convinced Penn to bring Robert Moog to the campus. Within a year, Moog built one of his first large scale studios at Penn. Rudin created some seminal electronic works with that system. Upon graduation, he was hired by the Philadelphia Musical Academy to teach composition and was instrumental in that institution acquiring a Moog. 

During the late 1960's Rudin was commissioned by Nonesuch Records to produce an electronic music album Tragoedia, a highly acclaimed example of serious musical composition realized on the Moog. An excerpt of this piece was used by Federico Fellini in his film Satyricon

The Philadelphia Musical Academy was later merged with the Philadelphia College of Art and eventually became The University of the Arts.

It was a rare opportunity to listen to a dedicated composer who pioneered the use of the electronic music synthesizer as a serious musical instrument. His stories about Robert Moog and the history of this treasure of a synthesizer was most engaging. Thank you Andrew!

Michael Johnson hosted our meeting and demonstrated some of the Moog's capability as well as fielding a number of questions on its operation. Thank you Michael!

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