Maryanne Amacher’s Petra

Maryanne Amacher
ACT at MIT

Maryanne Amacher was a fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) from 1972 – 1975. Her practice included sound and music, especially ambient sound recordings of the Boston area and other cities.

From Neural:
Maryanne Amacher, a pupil of Karlheinz Stockhausene and George Rochberg, created City Links: Buffalo in 1967, a 28 hour work where she uses 5 microphones in different parts of the city, transmitted in real time through the radio-station WBFO. Later, during the seventies, she became a member of MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) led by György Kepes, an outpost of the artistic research and relationship between music, technology and the visual arts, In time she would work with key figures such as John Cage and Merce Cunningham.

Her research on “otoacoustic emissions”, the sounds produced from our inner ear in response to a sound stimulus, was also fundamental. Petra For Two Pianos (1991), an addition to the catalog Black Forms Editions, is apparently a more traditional project, and this is the first vinyl edition of the artist, who passed away in 2009 at the age of seventy-one. In this composition, in contrast to the first two published by Tzadik in 1999 and 2008, the artist did not use electronic sources but simply two pianos. This almost 39 minutes long substantial suite, originally commissioned for the ISCM World Music Days in Switzerland, was live recorded on May 2017 at the St. Peter Episcopal Church in Manhattan. The perfect execution is due to Marianne Schroeder and Stefan Tcherepnin, two talented pianists at ease with the experimental register of the score. The tones are pure and solemn, the passages are made with chiaroscuro and show elements and moments of quiet dissonance.

Maryanne Amacher was one of the first gurus of electronic music and deserves to be remembered, thanks to her multiform creativity. In this case inspired by the story ‘Petra’ by Greg Bear, set in a world where the human imagination is able to modify the reality, disintegrating the Earth as we know it and leaving just a few survivors. These dystopian imaginary worlds intersect here with the most avant-garde and futuristic music culture.