Sunday, February 7, 2010
Cold Steel Doors
OK, all you T. Scot Halpin Memorial Blogsters. Today I offer up a semi-disturbing post. My own personal peace of mind is swaying in the breeze of two years passing of my beloved. In two days, we remember the day he fell, minute by minute.
Today’s musical post is almost the world premiere of this work that was composed (constructed) while Scot was Composer-in-Residence. I’m afraid there’s going to be a fair amount of background for this piece.
To begin with, let me say that this entire piece was created using a host of percussive striking and brushing instruments and Scot’s semi-new 4-track Teak tape recorder—and of course Scot’s there as the catalyst.
Background site: Site is was an operative word. We were in buildings that were built in 1902 to house army folks in the Marin Headlands—the thinking being—defend the Golden Gate. These buildings came to house the WWII guys that we had up there defending us from the Japanese invasion.
Scot and I came to this facility in 1986. Scot had been accepted into the ‘Inter-Arts’ graduate program at San Francisco State University. Scot took a class that was actually being held in the above mentioned barrick buildings.
Scot was in fine form in these days and quickly became a pet of the teacher, Leonard Hunter, who was conducting his class at the currently being rehabbed Headlands Center for the Arts, who also happened to be on the board of said newly created Center, and who also just happened to be on the committee that picked the first round of Artist in Residence for the Center.
Long Story Short, we were out there when real volunteers were out there carving out an art space. We were there when the ‘administrators’ arrived with their visions and their mandates. It wasn’t pretty for all of us that felt it was already ours. Much was made of the installation that was commissioned for the latrine. The center was left with the problem of converting a uni-sex military latrine into a facility that could be used by high and low donor alike.
I clearly remember the night Scot recorded/performed this piece. All the ‘administrators’ were leaving for the day. They saw us setting up the recording equipment and were clearly uncomfortable leaving us in charge the thousands of dollars of quarter inch sheet metal that had been installed into the space to create stalls. What I loved was the feeling we had when we left. We owned the space again.
Scot and I rigged speakers to have the piece play in the “latrine” during an open house while he was ‘Artist-in-Residence”. The director asked him to turn it off. Scot let it play a little while longer, but then shut it off. That was the last the Center knew of the piece. I am hoping that through this blog and communication with the folks who are now in charge, new to the person, to bring the composition back home.
I find this music particularly appropriate now because, speaking of reliving Scot’s last days, minutes, hours—there was a lot of discomfort. Bless him, but he was suffering so and I could not see it for what it was. I was still hoping for more years? The last days, I’m afraid were a lot like this track.