S.C.R.E.A.M. Reunion

November 9, 2006


Twenty years ago, Barry Schrader, composer and professor at California Institute of the Arts, gathered a group of composers together who specialize in electronic music (soon to be called electro-acoustic music, meaning a blend of “true” sounds and electronic sounds) and live and teach in southern California, to form a new concert series. We decided to call ourselves SCREAM, or the Southern California Resource [for] Electro-Acoustic Music. It was a fun group. I drifted away after four or five years, but the group has continued going. Rodney Oakes and Barry decided to have a 20 year reunion which I participated in and was held last Saturday night at Los Angeles Harbor College.

Daniel and I drove down and got lost, but managed to get there in time to hear clarinetist William Powell (CalArts) run through my electro-acoustic contribution, “Mirabell.” I wrote the piece for Bill some 16 years ago, and it was great to hear him revisit it. It occurs to me that I would do well to update it for piano and clarinet, as I am uncertain as to the future of the MUSIC PLUS ONE format so many of us have embraced. The orchestrational palette of this could never be captured by the piano, but I’m confident that something can be culled from it. I’ve already orchestrated the piece for orchestra. Here is a recording of Bill playing the original in 1991:


After the rehearsal we all sat around eating salad and sandwiches. Daniel and I decided to go find a place to have a glass of wine and asked Rod where we might find one: looking completely baffled and after a long pause he said “Denny’s?” We laughed. He said, or you could probably find someplace along the Pacific Coast Highway. We left and after driving for 15 minutes realized that Rod was right. But there was no way we were going to have a drink at Denny’s. Daniel suggested we stop at a liquor store and get a nice bottle of wine to bring back to the group. He went inside as I watched one of the busier establishments in beautiful downtown Wilmington, CA, a portable taco stand in a van. The line was largely latinos who looked like they just got off work and were tired and hungry. Daniel got back in the car with no wine. “There was only one bottle of wine and it was Boone’s Farm, and all the rest was beer in large bottles.” Wow. I didn’t realize just how far from civilization we had travelled.

We returned to the concert hall. We were relieved that Rod teaches a music appreciation class for continuing adult education and had a built in audience guaranteed us. Good thing, as I don’t see how a community who is oblivious to wine could appreciated obscure electro-acoustic music. They all showed up with their papers in hand to fill out a questionnaire that Rod had dutifully prepared for them.

The evening thundered by and I imagine the “class” was puzzled by it all, but none the less applauded warmly for us. A reception followed with a large SCREAM cake with the image of Edvard Münch’s “The Scream” emblazoned in icing. And just for auld lang syne, someone snapped our picture. SNAP!

[Photo (left to right): Barry Schrader (CalArts), Thomas Flaherty (Pomona College), Roger Bourland (UCLA), Susan Svrcek (pianist, Ric Lesemann’s wife–he was home in bed), Cynthia Fogg (violist), Sam Magrill (Univ. Central Oklahoma), Rodney Oakes (LA Harbor College, Prof. Emeritus), and William Powell (clarinet, CalArts.]

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