David Behrman

Festival of Live Electronic Music—Idiopreneurial Entrephonics II: Four Pieces by David Behrman

Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 8:00pm
World Music Hall


The second evening of the Idiopreneurial Entrephonics II festival of live electronic music features four pieces by composer David Behrman, performed by Behrman and members of the Wesleyan music community.

The concert features ViewFinder and LeapDay Night, in which loose notations are combined with interactive computer software and electronic music generators to allow performers freedoms within flexible structures. My Father’s Grocery Store introduces a reading of a short story by the composer’s father, S.N. Behrman, into this approach. In contrast, Touchtones is an exploration of interactive software using an early microcomputer linked to a homemade synth in the 1970s. It centers on a pair of resonant filters with a slowly rising cut-off frequencies that expose the overtones in the sounds of appliances and physical work produced by two performers. Once found, those overtones are played back as simple arpeggios against one of Behrman’s distinctive quasimodal harmonic frameworks.

“I've been engaged for many years in an exploration of ways to make music and intermedia installations in which software and electronic devices interact with human performers. I've wanted to make works that have personalities, which remain distinct and recognizable, yet are open to surprising changes that can come about when they are performed or exhibited. I've liked the idea of being a designer of situations rather than of fixed pieces.” —David Behrman


David Behrman has been active as a composer and artist since the 1960s. Most of his pieces feature flexible structures and the use of technology in personal ways; the compositions usually rely on interactive real-time relationships with imaginative performers. His compositions and installations have been presented in North America, Japan, and Europe. Representative venues in NYC include Roulette, Experimental Intermedia, Interpretations, The Kitchen, the Lincoln Center Summer Festival, Issue Project Room and the Armory. Together with Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma, Behrman founded the Sonic Arts Union in 1966 and performed with them until 1977. Behrman began working with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1967. He toured as a performer with the company, composed four pieces for Cunningham works, and was a member of the Company's Music Committee from 2004 to 2011. He was co-director of the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College from 1975 to 1980, and a visiting professor in 1999. He has also taught at California Institute of the Arts, Rutgers University, Ohio State University, and the Technical University in Berlin. Between 1998 and 2022 he was a member of the Milton Avery Graduate Arts Program faculty at Bard College.

For other Idiopreneurial Entrephonics II festival performances, visit the festival events page.

Image: David Behrman (photo by Maria Ludovici)