musician Paul Lehrman, shown playing during a summer jam session
at his home, will perform the music of George Antheil's "Ballet
Mécanique" on Jan. 30 in the State Theatre during the 2005
Light in Winter Festival.
College students, music professionals, and electronic music
buffs are invited to Ithaca College's Iger Lecture Hall at
11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, to learn how Paul Lehrman used MIDI
technology to successfully orchestrate the first performance
of George Antheil's original version of "Ballet Mécanique."
Lehrman will also screen a documentary about the life of George
Antheil and the making of "Ballet Mécanique" at 12:30 p.m.
on Jan. 30 in Hockett Family Recital Hall at Ithaca College.
ITHACA -- Paul Lehrman
specializes in making previously unplayable music playable -- literally.
For more than 30 years,
Lehrman has created electronic music, using cutting-edge technology
to help create his unique sounds.
A music lecturer at Tufts
University in Medford, Mass., Lehrman will be one of 11 speakers
and performers participating in the 2005 Light in Winter Festival,
to be held Jan. 28-30 at venues throughout downtown Ithaca, and
at Cornell University and Ithaca College.
Explaining his own work,
Lehrman said that for 40 years, composer George Antheil's 1924 work,
"Ballet Mécanique," remained unplayable due to its complex orchestration.
"The original score requires
the simultaneous playing of 16 pianolas (player pianos), a gong,
three airplane propellers and a siren," Lehrman said.
Antheil never lived to
hear his piece come to life the way he originally intended because
he learned, shortly after composing the piece, that it was impossible
to synchronize 16 pianolas to play at precisely the same time, as
was required by the orchestration of the piece, said Lehrman.
But in 1999, Lehrman
did the previously impossible.
He used MIDI -- musical
instrument digital interface -- technology to successfully perform
the 1924 version of "Ballet Mécanique" for the first time ever by
digitally linking the 16 pianolas required for the piece.
Lehrman's long career
in music started early. "My interest in electronic music began as
a high school student living in Long Island," he said.
"I built my first theremin
(an electronic console-like instrument) from a kit -- it didn't
work very well -- and produced tape collages in my parents' living
room with a Steinway piano, a Hagstrom electric guitar, a Sony three-head
reel-to-reel tape deck, and two Lafayette Radio microphones," Lehrman
says on his Web site, www.paul-lehrman.com.
As a young musician,
Lehrman was an accomplished player of more than eight instruments
and appreciated styles of music ranging from classical composers
like Mozart to more modern artists like The Doors.
Soon after graduating
from high school, Lehrman decided to seriously pursue his interest
in electronic music.
"I went to Columbia University,"
he said, "but after 2-1/2 years, I realized there was not a large
audience for this kind of music."
Concerned about entering
a field of music that was not viable for the long-term, Lehrman
decided to return to more traditional musical training at the State
University of New York at Purchase where he graduated in 1975 with
a bachelor's degree in orchestral performance on the bassoon and
"Right after I finished
my degree in Purchase, I returned to my passion for digital music,"
For Lehrman, the introduction
of the MIDI in 1983, later used in performing "Ballet Mécanique,"
changed the world of electronic music and allowed musical scores
to be composed and orchestrated that had previously been impossible.
"It created the electronic
music explosion." said Lehrman of MIDI technology. "It allowed music
from different manufacturers to talk to one another."
Paul Lehrman is a music
technologist, writer, composer, college lecturer and public speaker.
More information about Lehrman and his life can be found at www.paul-lehrman.com.
published Tuesday, January 4, 2005
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