The carriage winds about its rugged way;
The horse's mane, and its hooves.

This performance was very well attended. Most of the audience was thinking that I made the bird sounds from a tape or synthesizer. The following is a review of the performance from The New York Times:

The New York Times, Sunday, February 1, 1987

Concert: Improvisations by Oliveros, Marsh, Price

Wednesdays evening's concert at the Alternative Museum, 17 White Street, was billed as "Pauline Oliveros with Tina Marsh and Robert Price," the advance publicity consisting entirely of information about Ms. Oliveros. At the actual concert, Ms. Oliveros introduced her friends and joined them at the end for a three-person improvisation, but offered no compositions of her own. Truth in advertising suffered a setback, but the concert turned out pretty nicely.

Ms. Oliveros comes from Texas, and after a couple of decades of wandering she finally returned for regular visits to her home state, starting nine years ago. In Austin, under the aegis of the choreographer Deborah Hay, she encountered Ms. Marsh and Mr. Price.

Mr. Price, billed as Robert H. Price in the program, has been hired by several orchestras to take care of the bird calls in Respighi's "Pines of Rome," Ms. Oliveros announced. One didn't know she what she meant until he began his first piece, "Mockingbird in Dreamland" (three of Wednesday's four pieces involved birds, which must mean something). Mr. Price is a remarkable bird imitator, a feat he accomplishes with whistling, vocal percussion and amplification. In this piece he augmented such sounds with echo and delay devices and with non-ornithological vocal effects, to create a beguiling 15-minute sonic collage.

Ms. Marsh is a vocalist who also explores experimental jazz idioms at home, but here stuck to non-jazz performance art. "The Bird Within" consists of three parts, but all one heard on Wednesday was the first two parts combined. They offered an unamplified Ms. Marsh making every imaginable manner of vocal sounds and acting deadpan-style along with dancer Barbara Hofrenning, another Hay associate from Austin, who is now living in New York. The very notion of a modern dancer imitating hatching birds and accompanied by squeaks and squawks reeks of parody; here, it was charming, moving and even a little disturbing.

"The Boy and the Three Golden Pears" consisted of Ms. Marsh telling a fairy tale, sort of, except that her overlay of sound effects and verbal distortion was so extreme that no narrative line emerged. Mr., Price accompanied her on an electronically augmented clarinet, again to charming effect. The final improvisation, entitled "They Say a Bird Spreads Everything When It Flies," seemed to be dominated by the sensibilities of Mr. Price and, especially, Ms. Marsh. The music's skittering, nervous energy was a long way from the consoling meditations Ms. Oliveros usually offers, but again it worked on its own terms. It would be most interesting to hear Ms. Marsh and Mr. Price team up with some members of New York's own burgeoning free-improvisation scene.

John Rockwell

next page.

title page.