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Music

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The Gallery’s oldest public program and the longest-running free concert series in Washington, DC, began on May 31, 1942, just over a year after the Gallery opened its doors. On July 30, Danielle DeSwert Hahn, head of music programs, gives a brief overview of the fascinating story of the music department, as well as a preview of what’s to come in the 76th season, which begins on September 23, 2017. Several short performances will be interspersed throughout the presentation.

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HABITAT, a composition for percussion with video and computer transformations, is a concert-length technology venture by Steve Antosca, percussion performance and video content by Ross Karre, and audio technology by William Brent. Premiered November 10, 2013 in the National Gallery of Art East Building Atrium. The conceptual framework of HABITAT involves a percussionist operating comfortably within the domain of his instruments, emerging over the course of his performance into a larger, more profound environment through his roles as a performer and activator of the technology. This involves his movement to and performance within a “spiral galaxy” of unique percussion stations, distributed throughout the performance space. As the percussionist moves through the space on his transformational journey, a multiplicity of effects—visual, aural, and architectural—enters into the complex formula that comprises the performance of HABITAT. Used uniquely in the Gallery premiere as one of the percussion stations, Harry Bertoia’s Tonal Sculpture (1977) is a gift to the Gallery’s permanent collection from Bernard and Audrey Berman. HABITAT stems from the tradition of intermedia art, in which a variety of media are employed for the mutual benefit of underlying concepts. From the outset of the compositional process, HABITAT treats percussion instruments, monitors, and projection surfaces as installed sculptures and unifying elements of the project. The varying placement and instrumentation that define the percussionist’s journey allow the audience to adjust its auditory perspective through spatialization cues and timbral shifts, constantly reformulating their perception of the performance.