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New Life for Vintage Synthesizer at CalArts


CalArts’ Serge analog modular synthesizer. Photo: Scott Groller

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Vintage Analog Synthesizer Refurbished and Returned to its CalArts Birthplace

Acclaimed Dutch electronic musician to compose work for concert using rare Serge Analog Modular Unit

December 2, 2011—Valencia, CA.  Yesterday’s analog technology is new again. Acclaimed for his innovative combinations of digital and analog sound technologies, experimental composer Thomas Ankersmit begins a two-month residency at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) to create a new work for the Institute’s vintage Serge analog modular synthesizer.

Ankersmit is the only contemporary composer/performer touring and performing internationally with a Serge synthesizer, and his residency at the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts brings one of Europe’s most active experimental musicians to the Los Angeles area. The residency culminates with the premiere of a new work for Serge at the CEAIT Festival at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) on February 11, 2012. Press can contact Media Relations Manager Margaret Crane to schedule interviews and demonstrations.

Former music composition faculty member Serge Tcherepnin developed the Serge synthesizer at CalArts in the 1970s. The first Serge Modular synthesizer was used to broadcast whale sounds in the Pacific on the first Greenpeace anti-whaling expedition. Ankersmit will be working with a rare model that has been restored to mint condition for the occasion.

“Serge is a dinosaur of the electronic music age,” comments Ankersmit. “Analog synthesizers, such as Serge, have a special sound and people are now using this ‘70s technology in a contemporary way. Of all the types of early synthesizers, Serge synthesizers are designed for sonic experimentation—for creating music never heard before. “

Before the introduction of computers and digital synthesizers, Serge analog synthesizers were widely considered the most powerful and sophisticated electronic instruments available. Analog instruments from the pre-digital era have seen a renaissance in the past two decades because of their flexibility, tactile way of playing and unique sound design capabilities. CalArts’ electronic music studios own several unique Serge systems including rare prototypes and customized instruments.

Recently, The Wire wrote that with his Serge synthesizers, “Ankersmit constructs a musical world that feels alive and capable of going anywhere.”  Based in the Netherlands, this saxophonist, electronic musician and installation artist is best known for combining abstract, intensely focused saxophone playing with hyper-kinetic analog synthesizer and computer improvisation. In performance, Ankersmit combines synthesizers with computers and custom-built hardware, bringing pre-digital technology into the present through a unique hybrid practice.

Last edited by dthatt on Dec 05, 2011
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