Morton Subotnick Revisits Silver Apples of the Moon

For the last installment of North River Music’s 25th anniversary season, Greenwich House Music School (GHMS) is pleased to present an evening with pioneer of electronic music and multimedia performance, Morton Subotnick, on Friday, April 8 at 6pm. The event will take place at Renee Weiler Concert Hall, Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow Street (between Bedford St. & 7th Ave. S), NYC. Tickets are $15 General Admission/$10 Students/Seniors and are payable at the door from 5:30 p.m. For more information, call (212) 242-4770.

The synthesizer legend will retrace the development of his 1967 classic album, Silver Apples of the Moon, which the Library of Congress inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2009. The lecture-demonstration will serve as an appendix to Subotnick’s appearance at Lincoln Center’s Unsound Festival New York on April 7, during which the composer will revisit this landmark composition with visual accompaniment from Berlin-based video artist Lillevan. The GHMS talk will be followed by a short solo performance by Subotnick.

Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon was the first electronic work composed especially for an LP recording (commissioned by Nonesuch Records). It is also one of the first compositions entirely created for a modular analogue synthesizer, the Buchla Electronic Music Box (commissioned by Subotnick and Ramon Sender). In 2009, the Library of Congress selected Silver Apples of the Moon as one of the 25 new additions to the National Recording Registry, a collection now comprising 300 music, spoken word, and audio documentary recordings deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. “One of the unique features of Buchla’s instrument,” writes the Library of Congress, “was its use of the electronic sequencer, a device capable of creating repeating, rhythmic sequences of musical notes or timbres. Subotnick uses the sequencer extensively and effectively in the creation of many repeated figures in the recording, creating a canonical statement for this pioneering technology.”

With Silver Apples of the Moon, Subotnick created a new musical genre that anticipated today’s home stereo system – twentieth century chamber music that people could experience with headsets within their own four walls. He then proceeded to re-conceptualize his vision for the stage, turning to multimedia performance and reincorporating improvisation into the process. For the Lincoln Center performance, Subotnick will “deconstruct” Silver Apples, and A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur, his first and last electronic recordings, to spontaneously reconstruct them in a live performance, using the latest Buchla synthesizer and a laptop with Ableton Live software. At GHMC, the composer will explain the vision behind the work, how it was created, and how it can be performed nowadays.

Founded by Frank Wigglesworth in 1985, GHMS’s North River Music is one of New York City’s first concert series devoted to new and experimental music. The concert will be followed by a reception.

Morton Subotnick is one of the pioneers in the development of electronic music and an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. The work which brought Subotnick celebrity was Silver Apples of the Moon [1966-7], was commissioned by Nonesuch Records, marking the first time an original large-scale composition had been created specifically for the disc medium – a conscious acknowledgment that the home stereo system constituted a present-day form of chamber music. He is also pioneering works to offer musical creative tools to young children. He is the author of a series of CDROMS for children, a children’s website [] and developing a program for classroom and after school programs that will soon become available internationally. He tours extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe as a lecturer and composer/performer.

Founded by Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch in 1902, Greenwich House is a nonprofit settlement house which offers cultural and educational programs, social and health services and opportunities for civic involvement to New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds – from any neighborhood. Greenwich House Music School, located in the historical West Village, provides a wide range of concerts and recitals as well as instructional classes and outreach in NYC’s public schools. With a faculty of about 50 instructors, its has 520 students ranging in ages from 3 years old to seniors — from beginner to advanced — in classes and private lessons, in piano, voice, violin and viola, cello, clarinet, flute, guitar, five-string banjo, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, harp and the Chinese qin, a seven-string plucked instrument.

Funding for North River Music is provided, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.