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Film: Subotnick – Portrait of an Electronic Music Pioneer (LA Premiere)

April 17 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

The LA premiere of the new documentary celebrating and chronicling trailblazing and integral electronic composer Morton Subotnick!

The Philosophical Research Society and Vintage Synthesizer Museum proudly co-present the Los Angeles premiere of SUBOTNICK: PORTRAIT OF AN ELECTRONIC MUSIC PIONEER, director Robert Fantinatto’s documentary celebrating and chronicling trailblazing and integral electronic composer Morton Subotnick. For this very special event, the screening will be followed by a discussion and Q&A, moderated by Vintage Synthesizer Museum’s Lance Hill, with renowned electronic composers Jill Fraser and Peter Grenader – both of whom began their careers as students and mentees of Subotnick!

Morton Subotnick is among the most bold and uncompromising composers of the modern age. He can easily be spoken of in the same breath as Philip Glass or Steve Reich, but for decades his music has eluded widespread appeal. One could argue that without the anchor provided by “conventional” notes, harmonies and rhythms, Subotnick’s music was far too abstract for most listeners. Today, it’s widely recognized that his abstract electronic percussive lattices of sound presaged the fast beats and synthetic soundscapes of modern day electronic music. In the mid-1960s, working with engineer Don Buchla, Subotnick co-designed one of the world’s first electronic music synthesizers, which he put to use on his legendary 1967 album Silver Apples of the Moon – a breakthrough recording that became a landmark of the psychedelic era, and which has recently been inducted to the National Registry of Recordings at the Library of Congress.

SUBOTNICK: PORTRAIT OF AN ELECTRONIC MUSIC PIONEER explores both the recent interest in his work, and charts the creation of a new multimedia work, Crowds and Power, commissioned by NYC’s Lincoln Center. With unprecedented access over a period of three years, SUBOTNICK features first-hand interviews and conversations between Morton and many of the important people in his life, from colleagues and contemporaries, to friends and family. Combining these personal recollections with archival films and images, SUBOTNICK traces his groundbreaking and uncompromising career, painting an intimate picture of one of America’s most influential composers.

Following the screening, acclaimed electronic composers Peter Grenader and Jill Fraser will will sit down with Vintage Synthesizer Museum founder and curator Lance Hill to discuss Subotnick, his legacy, and their time studying composition under him at CalArts in the 70s.

About Jill Fraser

Jill Fraser is a composer and electronic music pioneer. She was mentored by Morton Subotnick, studied with Mel Powell and Earle Brown at CalArts and attended master classes with, among others John Cage and Lou Harrison. After finishing her master’s degree in composition she worked at Serge Modular in Hollywood and took her modular synths into the Hollywood studios to score films. Her composing credits on film scores include Personal Best directed by Robert Towne with collaborator, composer Jack Nitzsche and Hardcore (starring George C Scott, directed by Paul Schrader).

Jill has composed both electronic and acoustic music for hundreds of TV commercials for Lexus, BMW, Honda, Porsche, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mattel, Carl’s Jr, NBC, Apple Computers, Adidas, Estee Lauder, Baskin Robbins, Yamaha Motorcycles and many, many others. She has won 3 Clios for original music and is a voting member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

She toured with singer Buffy Sainte Marie and performance artist Ivan E Roth. Her performances with Ivan were part of the vibrant Los Angeles punk and spoken word scene and she played live modular synthesizer, opening for acts including the Minutemen and Henry Rollins. Ivan and Jill released the CD Alphabetical Disorders on Periodic Music featuring “Life is a Noun”.

Currently Jill performs live with the zZyzx Society and is working on a new album, Earthly Pleasures, to be released Fall 2023

About Peter Grenader

Peter Grenader has an enduring history in electronic music. Studying composition at CalArts with Morton Subotnick, his work has been performed throughout the USA and Europe — winning the Virginia Commonwealth EAM Festival and the Periòdic Experimental Music Festival in Barcelona. Past collaborations include Analoglive (with Alessandro Cortini of Nine Inch Nails, Coil/Elizabeth Fraser synthesist Thighpaulsandra, film composer Gary Chang, Chas Smith and Richard Devine), zZyzx Society (with Jill Fraser and featuring Chas Smith, Thighpaulsandra and Tool’s Danny Carey), The Third Ear (with Shiro Fujioka and Doug Lynner) and currently POV (with Miles Richmond and Steve Roach) He was featured in the Patch CV Modular Revolution documentary series, Darwin Gross’ Art + Music + Technology ep. 208 and Data Cult Audio vol. 0106. Past releases include Secret Life on Coda Recordings, The zZyzx Society on ZSR Records and Patch.CV Two on Organic Records.

POV is an ongoing ambient project of guitarist Miles Richmond and synthesists Peter Grenader and Steve Roach which engages the listening experience through a multi-timbral sonic adventure drawn from gliss guitar inner-weavings and deeply nuanced modular synth worlds. The feeling throughout the flow presents a dynamic yet serene emotional terrain. The thrust of POV is to sculpt a sonic landscape based upon guitar and processed guitar via a modular synthesizer equipped with both standard and granular sampling capability. While looping was incorporated, the synths were not just a pedal board for the guitar – by ‘freezing’ a sample, the guitar acted as the oscillators for the synths.

Other collaborators involved with POV are Thighpaulsandra (Coil, Spiritualized), Theo Travis (Soft Machine, Gong, Travis and Fripp), Martin Shellard. Elemental touchstones are early Fripp and Eno, American Minimalism and textural ambient.

Lance Hill is the founder of The Vintage Synthesizer Museum, an interactive museum and electronic music recording studio established in 2013 and located in Los Angeles, CA.

Ticket Price: $15 (in-person event only)

Please email [email protected] or phone 323-663-2167 with any questions.


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Philosophical Research Society
3910 Los Feliz Blvd
Los Angeles,90027United States
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