The Squid's Ear Magazine


Block, Oliva: 132 Ranks (Room40)

Commissioned for the Chicago performing space LAMPO and The Renaissance Society, Olivia Block composed this large work of drone and sound from 2016-2017, premiered on the massive Skinner Organ at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in a free concert that included a sound installation of 6 speakers placed through the chapel playing white noise, sine tones, and prerecorded organ sounds.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Olivia Block-composer, performer, organ, electronics


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UPC: 739027482086

Label: Room40
Catalog ID: RM 493CD
Squidco Product Code: 26463

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2018
Country: Australia
Packaging: Cardboard sleeve, sealed
Recorded by Alex Inglizian.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"132 Ranks for Pipe Organ was composed by Olivia Block in 2016-2017, as a commission for LAMPO and The Renaissance Society. Block composed the piece specifically for the enormous Skinner Organ at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Chicago. The world premiere was performed by Block on April 21, 2017. The concert, free and open to all ages attracted a large crowd. 132 Ranks was conceived as a hybrid of concert and sound installation. Six speakers were placed throughout the chapel. These speakers played white noise, sine tones, and prerecorded organ sounds, designed to interact acoustically with the live performance, and bring out the acoustics of the chapel in unconventional ways. White noise and low bass tones pulsed and sliced through the air, while sine tones and organ clusters created complex beating patterns and inner ear sound phenomena. Audience members were participants, quietly walking through the majestic, dimly lit chapel. Listeners noticed how the acoustics, materials and shape of the space altered the live and recorded organ sounds as Block performed. Some audience members relaxed on the floor of the chapel, listening, while others explored the upper balconies and hallways. 132 Ranks was designed to emphasize the architectural qualities and unique sonic and spatial capacities of the Skinner Organ. The piece included both the lowest pedal notes, felt in the body, as well as the highest bell tones, played at extreme dynamic levels. At times, sounds were isolated in discrete locations to emphasize the chapel's shape.Olivia Block is an American composer and media artist. Her body of work includes electroacoustic recordings, audio-visual installations, performance, sound design for cinema, and scores for orchestra and chamber music concerts. She has performed throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours in festivals and performance series including The Walker Museum concert series, Incubate (Tilburg), Festival del Bosque Germinal (Mexico City), Sonic Light (Amsterdam), Kontraste (Krems), Dissonanze (Rome), Archipel (Geneva) Angelica (Bologna), Sunoni per il Popolo (Montreal), and many others. Additionally, she has presented work at the ICA (London), MCA (Chicago), La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, The Kitchen (NYC), ISSUE Project Room, Experimental Intermedia (Brooklyn) and TIFF (Toronto)."



"Built with the Chapel itself in 1928, Rockefeller Chapel's regal organ is one of four University organs built by the great American organ builder Ernest M. Skinner in the pre-Aeolian Skinner years (the others being at Yale, Princeton, and Michigan). These four organs are considered among the finest examples of 20th century romantic organs built in America.

In the Rockefeller organ, Skinner fully invested his genius for realizing a full orchestral sound, with a complete collection of voices and many soft ethereal effects. Many of the large pipe scales, which are necessary to achieve a full sound in a building the size of the Chapel, are no longer built and thus cannot be found in contemporary organs. The original Chapel organ included four manuals, and had 6,610 organ pipes in 108 ranks; following its 2008 restoration, it has 8,565 pipes in 132 ranks. Its bay of pipes, located in the chancel, is a work of art in itself and is an integral element of the interior architecture of Rockefeller. In addition to the chancel organ located at the front of the chapel, Skinner installed a gallery organ in the upper balcony of the Chapel, to accompany the gallery choir. The organs can be played independently or as one, using either console.

Rockefeller's organ was unveiled at a recital by Lynnwood Farnam, reportedly to a crowd of over 2,500 admirers, on November 1, 1928. It has been played by many great organists of the 20th century, including a series of recitals by the great Marcel Dupré."-University of Chicago, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel website


Artist Biographies

"Olivia Block is a media artist and composer. Her body of work includes sound recordings, audio-visual installations, performances, sound design for cinema, and scores for orchestra and chamber music concerts.

Over the last twenty years, Block has pioneered the utilization of audio field recordings and found materials in the realms of music and sound art. She combines field recordings, chamber instruments and electronic textures, resulting in mysterious and vivid electroacoustic sound pieces including Pure Gaze, Mobius Fuse, Karren, and others. Block creates multimedia installations and performances utilizing found sounds from micro cassette tapes, field recordings, video, and curated 35mm slides.

Block's work reflects her interests in site specificity, ethnographic sound, architectural sound, and found/archival materials from the 1950's-1990's. Her work with expanded cinema and film artists has led to interests related to cinema sound, and visual phenomena like shadows and reflections. Block has developed a body of partially-improvised compositions for inside-piano with various materials, including metal pieces and shards of broken glass. Her scores for orchestra and chamber instruments emphasize timbre and dynamics. Her most recent orchestral pieces include portions of "easy listening" inspired music from the 1970's, playing underneath recordings of room ventilation, white noise and commercial spaces like malls. Her solo performances include partially improvised pieces for electronics, amplified objects, and piano, presented in a slow and deliberate gestural style that Steve Smith of the New York Times described recently as having "palpable sensations of volition and emotional involvement."

Block has performed, premiered and exhibited her work throughout Europe, America, and Japan in tours in festivals including Incubate (Tilburg), Festival del Bosque Germinal (Mexico City), Sonic Light (Amsterdam), Kontraste (Krems), Dissonanze (Rome), Archipel (Geneva) Angelica (Bologna), Sunoni per il Popolo (Montreal), and many others. Additionally, she has presented work at the ICA (London), MCA (Chicago), La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Festival of Contemporary Music, The Kitchen (NYC), ISSUE Project RoomExperimental Intermedia (Brooklyn), and TIFF (Toronto).

She has completed residencies and premiered works at Mills College of Music, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Berklee College of Music. Block has presented talks at additional universities in film, music, media arts, and anthropology departments, including Yale University, University of Chicago, and Indiana University.

Block has created sound installations for public sites and exhibition spaces including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, CONTEXT (Miami and NY), Millennium Park (Chicago), the library at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, the Lincoln Conservatory Fern Room (Chicago), and at the "Echoes Through the Mountains" exhibit at the 2006 Winter Olympics (Turin, Italy).

Her 2013 LP/download release, Karren (Sedimental, 2013) was chosen as "Best of 2014″ by The Wire, Pitchfork, and Artforum, among other publications. She was selected as a 2014 "Person of the Year" in the Chicago Reader. Aberration of Light, her latest solo release, is now available on NNA tapes. She recently completed her large-scale multi-speaker sound installation, Sonambient Pavilion, in Chicago's Millennium Park, utilizing sounds from Harry Bertoia's Sonambient sculptures. She is currently working on several projects, including a multi-speaker presentation of her forthcoming release, Dissolution (Glistening Examples), and pieces for piano and organ. Olivia Block is based in Chicago."

-Olivia Block Website (http://www.oliviablock.net/bio-2/)
2/16/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. 132 Ranks 49:10

Related Categories of Interest:


Electro-Acoustic
Compositional Forms
Piano & Keyboards
Installation Sound Work
Ambient & Minimal Music
Solo Artist Recordings
New in Compositional Music
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

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