We are thrilled to announce the release of Ryoanji, Los Angeles based flutist Christine Tavolacci’s debut solo recording, a single long form realization of John Cage’s iconic 1983 graphic score of the same name. Christine, a virtuosic flutist who has spent nearly fifteen years studying and performing experimental music, collaborated with percussionist and Cage scholar Bonnie Whiting in this brilliantly subtle rendition of this seminal work.
Tavolacci’s approach to Ryoanji is a meditation on the minutiae of sound production on the flute - the rate of speed at which air leaves the lungs and travels through the instrument, the breaking points between traditional flute sounds, Aeolian sounds and whispers, the specific motions made by fingers as they lift from the keys.
Ryōan-ji (竜安寺, “The Temple of the Dragon at Peace”) is a Zen temple in Kyoto known for its karasansui, or “dry landscape,” garden. The garden consists of a formation of 15 larger moss-covered rocks on a bed of smooth white pebbles – small, polished river rocks. The temple was founded in 1450 on the original estate of the 11th-century Fujiwara family. It was destroyed in the Onin wars, rebuilt in 1488, and destroyed again by fire in 1779. Akisato Rito remade a 15-stone garden over the remaining rubble at the end of the 18th century. Zen monks rake the gravel daily.
From 1983 to ’85, John Cage made a series of compositions called Ryoanji for solo instruments with percussion and tape, or with 20-member orchestra. Versions exist for voice, oboe, flute, trombone, and double bass. The pieces are related to a 1983 drawing series, Where R = Ryoanji, made by tracing 15 different stones.
Cage traced parts of the stones’ perimeters onto 8 two-page songs, each page made of two rectangles in which curves are read as glissandi within given a pitch range. Where contours overlap, making it impossible for a soloist to realize, a pre-recorded tape part joins. The percussion part consists of unspecified sounds of wood and metal, always played in unison.
A haunting and meditative exploration of subtlety and sonic space, Christine Tavolacci's hypnotic flute, and Bonnie Whiting's quietly insistent percussion give life to this transportive performance of John Cage's landmark piece inspired by the legendary Japanese rock garden. This special release will be a limited edition hand-made package by Eron Rauch and features writing by composer Carolyn Chen.