Tuesday night, I visited Issue Project Room for a solo performance by Robert Ashley, one of the leading figures of the downtown NY music scene in the 60's and 70's. He is best known for his "operas": multimedia works that are, "so vast in their vision that they are comparable only to Wagner's Ring cycle or Stockhausen's seven-evening Licht cycle." He is widely credited as the father of music television, primarily for his 1980 made-for-TV opera Perfect Lives.
"A LAST FUTILE STAB AT FUN is a 'lecture to be sung' with accompanying sounds. The text was written in 1979 as a lecture for the Walker Art Center and has not been done since or otherwise... It produced a kind of what-are-we-talking-about set of logical conclusions that came from I don't know where. It digressed into other questions of things I was thinking about then. Finally in 2008 I got it into a metered form as a 'lecture to be sung.'"
Ashley read at a small table, his amplified and electronically-altered voice supplemented with samples that sounded like souls trapped in hell. (The point was driven home with the blood-red lighting.) I missed most of the performance, but heard enough odd snippets to get the gist. The audience, about 80 strong, gave Ashley a sustained ovation once he finished.