Friday, February 1, 2013

John Zorn / Mark Alburger

John Zorn (b. 9/ 2/53, New York, NY) learned flute, guitar, and piano as a child.

He grew up in a household of sound: his mother listened to classical and world music; his father to jazz, French chansons, and country music; and his older brother to doo-wop, and 50's rock and roll.

Zorn recalled an episode of his life, after buying a record by Mauricio Kagel in 1968 at the age of fifteen, that influenced his subsequent taste for experimental and avant-garde music:]

"Kagel, Improvisation Ajoutée.  I bought this when I was about 15. . . . [G]ot it at Sam Goody in September, for 98 cents. And it's a really crazy piece, with the guys screaming and hooting, something that attracted me. I was over at my friend's house, and he really liked the Rolling Stones. And I just got this record, and I put it on and he looked at me like...who the hell are you? Are you out of your mind? And his mother was there, and she was like . . . my God, take this off... and right then and there, I decided: this was the music.

Zorn spent time in his teenage years listening to classical music, film music, and The Doors, and playing bass in a surf band.

He taught himselforchestration and counterpoint, transcribing scores and composing, a procedure of "plagiarizing, stealing, quoting, or whatever you can call it," of collage and transposition into his own world, that he has been using throughout his career.

Zorn began playing saxophone after discovering Anthony Braxton's album For Alto (1969) while studying composition at Webster University, St. Louis, MO.

His Christabel, for five flutes, was written in 1972 and first appeared on Angelus Novus in 1998. 

While still in college, Zorn incorporated elements of contemporary classical music, free jazz, film scores, performance art and the cartoon scores of Carl Stalling into his first recordings which were later released in 1973.

Following a stint on the West Coast, Zorn moved back to New York. There he gave concerts in his apartment and other small NY venues, playing saxophone and a variety of reeds, duck calls, tapes, and other instruments.

In 1975, he founded the Theatre of Musical Optics, which later became his publishing house, and became a major participant in the downtown music scene as a composer, performer, and producer
Zorn later used the term "Theatre of Musical Optics" for the publishing company of his compositions.

Zorn's early compositions include "game pieces" or "game theories", described as "complex systems harnessing improvisers in flexible compositional formats," which involve "strict rules, role playing, prompters with flashcards, all in the name of melding structure and improvisation in a seamless fashion."

Game pieces are often named after sports, and include Baseball (1976), Lacrosse (1976), Dominoes (1977), Curling (1977), Golf (1977), Hockey (1978), Cricket (1978), and Fencing (1978).

The Book of Heads, 35 etudes for solo guitar written in 1978 for Eugene Chadbourne, was followed by Pool (1979), and Archery (1979). 

In 1981, Zorn was "blowing duck calls in buckets of water at fringe venues," which included 8BC, Roulette, Chandelier, and Zorn's own clubhouse, the Saint.

Zorn's first solo saxophone and duck call recordings were originally released in two volumes as The Classic Guide to Strategy in 1983 and 1986 on Lumina.  Zorn's early small group improvisations are documented on Locus Solus (1983) which featured Zorn with Anton Fier, Wayne Horvitz, Arto Lindsay, Christian Marclay, and Ikue Mori.

His best-known game piece is Cobra (1984), first released in 1987 and subsequently in 1992, 1994, and 2002, with many further revisions in performance.

Ganryu Island featured a series of duets by Zorn with Satoh Michihiro on shamisen, which received limited release on Yukon in 1984.

Zorn's breakthrough recording was The Big Gundown: John Zorn Plays the Music of Ennio Morricone (1985), where Zorn offered radical arrangements of the Italian composer's film music including The Big Gundown (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), and Once Upon a Time in America (1984).  The album was endorsed by Morricone, who praised it, saying "This is a record that has fresh, good and intelligent ideas. It is realization on a high level, a work done by a maestro with great science-fantasy and creativity... Many people have done versions of my pieces, but no one has done them like this."

Zorn's versions incorporated elements of traditional Japanese music, soul jazz, and other diverse musical genres.  The 15th-anniversary re-release of the album featured additional explorations.

Zorn remembers that after "The Big Gundown came out I was convinced that a lot of soundtrack work was going to be coming my way".

While Hollywood acclaim was not forthcoming, he attracted the attention of independent filmmakers, the first being Rob Schwebber for White and Lazy followed by Sheila McLaughlin's She Must Be Seeing Things, both in 1986).
That same year, he first released Godard, a tribute to French film-maker Jean-Luc Godard, whose jump-cut technique inspired Zorn's compositional approach, on the  album The Godard Fans: Godard Ca Vous Chante?
Also in 1986 Zorn participated in projects focused on modern jazz composers which highlighted his saxophone style.

He followed this with his second major-label release Spillane in 1987, composed of three different tributes.  The title track has text by Arto Lindsay, set to an array of film-noir references;  Two-Lane Highway is a blues-based form to highlight the guitar of Albert Collins; and Forbidden Fruit concludes in homage to a Japanese film star, as performed by the Kronos Quartet.

Zorn credits the composition of his 1988 string quartet Cat O' Nine Tails, commissioned and originally released by Kronos, to awakening him to the possibilities of writing for classical musicians. 

Nevertheless, Zorn established Naked City that year as a "compositional workshop" to test the limitations of the rock band format.

Featuring Zorn on saxophone, Bill Frisell (guitars), Fred Frith (bass), Wayne Horvitz (keyboards), Joey Baron (drums), and occasional vocals from Yamatsuka Eye, Bob Dorough, and later Mike Patton -- Naked City highlighted  Zorn's appreciation of hardcore bands.

Named after a 1945 book of graphic black and white photographs by Weegee the band performed an aggressive mix of "soundtrack themes, bluesy hard bop, speedy hardcore rock, squealing free jazz  metallic funk."
Zorn has stated that "Naked City started with rhythm and blues / Spillane type things then went into this hard-core thing... because I was living in Japan and experiencing a lot of alienation and rejection... My interest in hard-core also spurred the urge to write shorter and shorter pieces."

In 1989, the cover of their eponymous album used the Weegee photograph Corpse with Revolver C.A. 1940, which shows a gangland killing.  This was directly followed by Torture Garden, a collection of 42 "hardcore miniatures," intense brief compositions often lasting less than a minute.

He composed, in 1990 the soundtrack for Raul Ruiz' The Golden Boat. All aforementioned film scores appeared on Filmworks 1986-1990 along with a 64-second interpretation of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Zorn formed Painkiller, with Bill Laswell on bass and Mick Harris on drums, in 1991.  Painkiller's first two releases, Guts of a Virgin (1991) and Buried Secrets (1992), featured short grindcore and free jazz-inspired compositions.

Zorn's second Filmworks release documented his Music for an Untitled Film by Walter Hill (1996) which was composed for the film Trespass (1992).

Older tracks resurfaced on Naked City's third release, Grand Guignol (1992), which also included performances of works by Claude Debussy, Alexander Scriabin, Orlande de Lassus, Charles Ives, and Olivier Messiaen.  At this point, Zorn left Electra Nonesuch after the company's response to the artwork for the album, releasing the remaining Naked City projects on the Japanese-based Avant.

The band's subsequent album, Heretic (1992), featured more short improvisations, produced for the soundtrack of an underground S/M film Jeux des Dames Cruelles. The band released a second EP, Leng Tch'e, in 1992 featuring a single composition which lasted just over half an hour.

As Zorn's interest in Naked City waned he "started hearing classical music in [his] head again.  The responses to this included the suites Elegy (1992) (dedicated to Jean Genet) and Kristallnacht (1993), for strings, percussion, and electronic instruments.

John Zorn recorded Kristallnacht in November 1992, his first work of radical Jewish culture,  a suite of seven compositions reflecting the infamous 1938 Night of Broken Glass. The experience prompted Zorn to further explore his Jewish heritage and composing using Jewish musical styles, setting himself the task of writing 100 compositions within a year incorporating klezmer into his musical palette.

Naked City continued with Radio, released in 1993, as the first of the group's albums to be composed solely by Zorn, and featured tracks drawing on a typical wide range of musical influences: Boredoms, Sammy Cahn, Carcass, Ornette Coleman, Corrosion of Conformity, Extreme Noise Terror, Morton Feldman, Funkadelic, Charlie Haden, Bernard Herrmann, Quincy Jones, Carole King, Led Zeppelin, Liberace, Little Feat, Massacre, Charles Mingus, Orchestra Baobab, Santana, Frank Sinatra, Igor Stravinsky, Booker T. and the M.G.'s, Conway Twitty, Anton Webern, and Roger Williams.

The final recording from Naked City, Absinthe (1993) was a blend of ambient noise compositions titled after the works of Paul Verlaine and Charles Baudelaire, with a dedication to Olivier Messiaen. 

Painkiller's first live album, Rituals: Live in Japan, on Toys Factory, 1993, was followed by the double CD Execution Ground (1994), which featured longer dub and ambient pieces.

By 1994, the number of short post-Kristallnacht compositions had grown to 200 and became known as the First Masada Book.  Zorn notes:

"The project for Masada was to create something positive in the Jewish tradition, something that maybe takes the idea of Jewish music into the 21st century the way jazz developed from the teens and 1920's into the 40's, the 50's, the 60's and on. . . .  My initial plan was to write 100 tunes in a year that touched upon the Jewish tradition and that was an interesting challenge.  It was really fun as a composer to come home and write a something that could be finished sometimes in 10 minutes, sometimes in an hour or sometimes an evening. . . . The Masada songbook was really something that was like the Irving Berlin songbook or the Burt Bacharach songbook or the Thelonious Monk songbook. Here's another lifetime for me.  So when I look at what's been accomplished in the world of Masada, it's kind of unbelievable.  Of course I had no idea at the times I started.  My initial idea was to write a hundred tunes. And then I ended up writing over 200 for the first book and then performed it countless time for years."

The initial Masada releases were ten albums on DIW from 1994.  The eponymous group (later dubbed the "acoustic" Masada) was an Ornette Coleman-inspired quartet of Zorn (alto saxophone), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Greg Cohen (bass), and Joey Baron (drums), performing compositions based on Sephardic scales and rhythms.  The original Masada albums were titled after the first ten letters of the Hebrew Alphabet – Alef, Beit, Gimel, Dalet, Hei, Vav, Zayin, Het, Tet and Yod -- and contained compositions with Hebrew titles.  Further releases by Masada consisted of live performances recorded in Jerusalem, Taipei, Middleheim, Seville, and in New York at the Knitting Factory and Tonic, and a double CD of unreleased studio recordings, Sanhedrin 1994-1997 (2005).

In 1995, in co-operation with jazz producer Kazunori Sugiyama, Zorn established the Tzadik label to ensure availability of his catalogue and promote experimental musicians. Zorn said that the label is a way to shield from the power of the music industry, with "giant corporations acting like slave masters, like the return of the pharaohs," merging to get even more powerful like in the Polygram-Universal acquisition; and to shield from distribution companies like Tower, HMV, and Virgin Megastores, that are destroying "the small mom and pop stores -- people that love the music and that’s why they have their store," and from the insidious pollution of the tastes of the masses, "with brainwashing and brain-control. These marketing guys who are at the head of all these companies, they’re really the ones that are spoon-feeding everybody shit."

The label's releases are divided into series:  The Archival Series features Zorn's recordings, including re-releases of several albums that appeared on other labels, Zorn's film work, and recordings from 1973 onwards;  The Composer Series features Zorn's music for "classical" ensembles along with work by many other contemporary composers; The Radical Jewish Culture Series features contemporary Jewish musicians. The New Japan Series covers Japanese underground music; The Film Music Series features soundtracks by other musicians; The Oracle Series promotes women in experimental music; The Key Series presents notable avant-garde musicians and projects; The Lunatic Fringe Series releases music and musicians operating outside of the broad categories offered by other series;] and The Spotlight Series promotes new bands and musical projects of young musicians.

With the establishment of Tzadik, Zorn released many classical composition written over the previous two decades.  Redbird, containing new works for bass drums and a harp/viola/cello/percussion quartet inspired by Agnes Martin, and The Book of Heads were released that year as part of the Composer Series.

Filmworks III: 1990-1995 (1997) featured the first recordings by the Masada lineup for Joe Chappelle's Thieves Quartet (1993) along with early drafts for the Cynical Hysterie Hour project, duets with Marc Ribot which featured in Mei-Juin Chen's Hollywood Hotel (1994), and a series of commercial soundtracks for the advertising firm Weiden and Kennedy, including one directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

Filmworks IV: S&M + More (1997) and Filmworks V: Tears of Ecstasy (1996) both included music written for films dealing with bondage and discipline, and sadomasochism.

Filmworks VI: 1996 contains the soundtracks to three underground films produced in 1996; Dina Waxman's Anton, Mailman, Henry Hills's Mechanics of the Brain, and Maria Beatty's The Black Glove.

Filmworks VII: Cynical Hysterie Hour re-released themes that Zorn produced for a Japanese cartoon. Zorn regained the rights by trading a booking at The Knitting Factory to Sony executives.

Duras: Duchamp (1997) consists of two homages.  The first, dedicated to Marguerite Duras, has four movements lasting roughly 34 minutes, influenced by Oliver Messiaen; the second, 69 Paroxyms for Marcel Duchamp, lasts a bit over 13.

Aporias: Requia for Piano and Orchestra (1998) was Zorn's first full-scale orchestral release featuring pianist Stephen Drury, the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir and the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies.

Zorn was quoted in 1998 as saying "Sometimes I get the feeling that people just don't see me as a composer, but it's what I've always been since I was eight years old... I've always thought of myself as a composer, but the world has had a hard time looking at me as a composer because a lot of what I compose is controversial."

Filmworks VIII: 1997 features music for the documentary Port Of Last Resort (1998), which detailed the experiences of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during the years preceding World War II, and the soundtrack to the underground film Latin Boys Go to Hell (1997).

Further exploration of film noir were recorded for radio plays and released as The Bribe: Variations and Extensions on Spillane (1998).

Music for Children (1998), characterized as Music Romance Volume One, opens with a polyrhythmic etude for percussion and celeste.  It also features three short Naked City compositions, written at the time of Torture Garden, performed by Zorn with the Boston-based band Prelapse; a composition for wind machines and feedback dedicated to Edgard Varèse; a classical chamber piece for violin, percussion and piano; and ends with a music box-styled lullaby. The second Music Romance album, Taboo & Exile, was released in 1999 and featured a similar spectrum of broad styles.

Godard and Spillane were re-released as a single CD, Godard/Spillane, on Tzadik in 1999.  These pieces are described by Zorn as "file-card compositions," a method of combining composition and improvisation in which Zorn would write down a description of what he wanted on file-cards and arrange them to form the piece.

Cat O' Nine Tails is featured on The String Quartets (1999) and Cartoon S/M (2000), along with Variations on "Kol Nidre", inspired by the Jewish prayer of atonement which was written at the same time as (but not part of) the first Masada Book.

In 2000, Zorn edited Arcana: Musicians on Music, containing interviews, essays, and commentaries by Anthony Coleman, Peter Garland, David Mahler, Bill Frisell, Gerry Hemingway, George Lewis, Fred Frith, Eyvind Kang, Mike Patton, and Elliott Sharp.

Zorn's next soundtrack work did not appear until this year with Filmworks IX: Trembling Before G-d featuring music for an award winning documentary about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their sexuality with their faith directed by Sandi Simcha DuBowski.

The following year Filmworks X: In the Mirror of Maya Deren (2001) featured music for a documentary by Martina Kudlacek on the life and work of underground filmaker Maya Deren.

One of Zorn's most popular albums was the third Music Romance album, The Gift (2001), which surprised many with its relaxed blend of surf, exotica, and world music.

Songs from the Hermetic Theatre (2001) features American Magus, Beuys Block, In the Very Eye of Night, and The Nerve Key, Zorn's first computer music.  Madness, Love and Mysticism (2001) featured Le Mômo (after Antonin Artaud), Untitled, and Amour FouChimeras (2001) was inspired by Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire.

The year 2002 was a very productive one for Zorn's cinematic scores.   Filmworks XI: Secret Lives (2002) featured the Masada String Trio performing music for Aviva Slesin's documentary film on Jewish children hidden from the Nazis.

Filmworks XII (2002) included music for three documentaries; Homecoming: Celebrating Twenty Years of Dance at PS 122; Shaolin Ulysses, a film about Shaolin Monks in America: and variations on the theme for Family Found, a documentary on outsider artist Morton Bartlett.

Zorn released his third soundtrack collection of the year with Filmworks XIII: Invitation to a Suicide, written for a black comedy about a man selling tickets to his own suicide to save his father's life.

Before year's end -- in addition to a second live Painkiller album, Talisman: Live in Nagoya -- Zorn recorded Hemophiliac in 2002 with Mike Patton and Ikue Mori, continuing his interest in hardcore improvisations.  The trio's first release was a limited double-CD set, signed by the performers, that soon became a highly sought-after collectors item.

At about the time of Naked City's brief re-formation for a European tour in 2003, the composer described the game pieces process: "I write in moments, in disparate sound blocks, so I find it convenient to store these events on filing cards so they can be sorted and ordered with minimum effort. Pacing is essential. If you move too fast, people tend to stop hearing the individual moments as complete in themselves and more as elements of a sort of cloud effect... I worked 10 to 12 hours a day for a week, just orchestrating these file cards. It was an intense process - one I don't want to go through again."

Zorn's "file-card" method of organizing sound blocks into an overall structure largely depended on the musicians he chose, the way they interpreted what was written on the file cards, and their relationship with Zorn. "I'm not going to sit in some ivory tower and pass my scores down to the players." said Zorn, "I have to be there with them, and that's why I started playing saxophone, so that I could meet musicians. I still feel that I have to earn a player's trust before they can play my music. At the end of the day, I want players to say: this was fun - it was a lot of fucking work, and it's one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it was worth the effort."

Zorn's next two Filmworks releases featured in documentaries examining Jewish identity and antisemitism. Filmworks XIV: Hiding and Seeking (2003) provided the soundtrack a documentary about an Orthodox Jewish father attempting to alert his sons of the dangers of creating barriers between themselves and those outside their faith.

In September 2003, Zorn celebrated his 50th birthday with a month-long series of performances at Tonic, repeating an event he had begun a decade earlier at the Knitting Factory.

He conceptualized the month into several different aspects of his musical output. Zorn's bands performed on the weekends, classical ensembles were featured on Sundays, Zorn performed improvisations with other musicians on Mondays, his extended compositions were featured on Tuesdays, and a retrospective of game pieces was given on Wednesdays.

Twelve live albums were released as the 50th Birthday Celebration Series which featured performances by the Masada String Trio, Milford Graves,  Locus Solus, Electric Masada, Fred Frithn, Hemophiliac, Masada, Susie Ibrarra, Wadada Leo Smith, Yamataka Eye, the, Bar Kokhba Sextet, Painkiller, and the Zorn / Patton / Mori trio.

Also in that year, A Tenth Anniversary Series of Masada recordings was released: five albums including Masada Guitars by Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Tim Sparks; Masada Recital by Sylvie Courvoisier and Mark Feldman; Masada Rock by Rashanim; Voices in the Wilderness; and The Unknown Masada.

In 2004, Zorn began composing the Second Masada Book, The Book of Angels, resulting in an additional 300 compositions.

"After 10 years of performing the first book, I thought 'Maybe it'd be nice to write some more tunes.' And I wrote 300 more tunes. When I started writing those it was 'Let's see if I can write a hundred songs in a month this time.' I've been working on these scales and playing these tunes all this time. In the back of my head somewhere are lodged all kinds of new ideas. Let's see if I can come up with 100 tunes in a month instead of in a yr. So in the first month, I popped out a hundred tunes; the second month, another hundred; in the third month, a third 100 tunes. I had no idea that was going to happen."

Magick (2004) includes the Crowley Quartet on Necronomicon: For String Quartet and Sortilège, for two bass clarinets.

Painkiller is featured on Zorn's 50th Birthday Celebration: Volume 12 (2005) with Hamid Drake, replacing Harris on drums, and guest vocalist Mike Patton.

Filmworks XV: Protocols of Zion (2005) highlights music for a documentary about a resurgence of antisemitism in the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks.  Filmworks XVI: Workingman's Death (2005) presents themes for a documentary portraying hazardous employment undertaken in the Ukraine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and China.

Mysterium, released in 2005, includes Orphée, performed by a sextet of flute, viola, harp, harpsichord and electronics; Frammenti Del Sappho for female chorus; and Wulpurgisnacht for string trio. 

Rituals (2005) features Zorn's five-movement opera for mezzo soprano and ten instruments, composed for the Bayreuth Festival in 1998.

Zorn was the principal force in establishing The Stone in 2005, an avant-garde performance space in New York's Alphabet City which supports itself solely on donations and the sale of limited edition CD's, giving all door revenues directly to the performers.  Zorn holds the title of artistic director and regularly performs Improvisation Nights.

In 2006, Zorn formed the hardcore voice/bass/drums group of Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron -- which became known as Moonchild Trio.  That year two albums of Zorn's compositions performed by the trio were released: Moonchild: Songs Without Words and Astronome

Filmworks XVII (2006) features music for Martina Kudlacek's documentary Notes on Marie Menken intertwined with Zorn's percussive score for Beth Cataldo's portrait Ray Bandar: A Life with Skulls. Filmworks XVIII: The Treatment (2006) entails music for Oren Rudavsky's romantic comedy based on the tango music of Astor Piazolla.

The composition of Astronome dates from this year as well.

The Masada quartet performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in March 2007 for what were billed as their final concerts.

The next month, on April 13 -- Zorn played the final night at Tonic, the Lower East Side venue where he played regularly for the previous decade, which closed due to financial pressures.

A third Moonchild album -- featuring Zorn, Ikue Mori, Jamie Saft, and chorus -- Six Litanies for Heliogabalus, was also released that year, as well as From Silence to Sorcery, which includes Goetia, eight variations for solo violin; Gris-Gris for 13 tuned drums; and Shibboleth for clavichord, strings and percussion.

Zorn released the second volume of Arcana: Musicians on Music in the summer of 2007. According to the prefac "This second installment of what will be a continuing series of books presenting radical, cutting-edge ideas about music is made, like the initial volume, out of necessity."  This follow-up contains essays bySteve Coleman, David Douglas, Trevor Dunn, Jewlia Eisenberg, Annie Gosfield, Carla Kihlstedt, Bill Laswell, Zeena Parkins, Marina Rosenfeld, and Trey Spruance.

January 10, 2008, found Zorn performing with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson at a special benefit night at The Stone, released as The Stone: Issue Three.

On February 4, Zorn premiered his work for three cellists 777, performed by Fred Sherry, Erik Friedlander, and Michael Nicolas at the Guggenheim Museum.

Also premiering that month was Shir Ha-Shirim, inspired by The Song of Solomon and performed by an amplified quintet of female singers with female and male narrators.  Anderson and Reed and Laurie Anderson read the texts in English

A third premiere of the month was The Dreamers with members of Electric Masada on February 29, at St Anne's Warehouse, Brooklyn.

The next month, on March 27, Columbia University's Miller Theater presented the premiere of The Prophetic Mysteries of Angels, Witches, and Demons.  

Filmworks XIX: The Rain Horse (2008) was written for an animated children's short film by Russian director Dimitri Gellar. Also released that year were Filmworks XX: Sholem Aleichem containing music for a documentary on the writer; Filmworks XXI: Belle de Nature / The New Rijksmuseum featuring soundtracks for another of Maria Beatty's films and a documentary on the restoration of the Amsterdam museum; and Filmworks XXII: The Last Supper.

Moonchild's fourth release, The Crucible, appeared this year as well.

Zorn also released The Dreamers, considered to be a sequel to The Gift.  T

In October 2008, a third volume of the Arcana series was released with essays by Greg Cohen, Frank London, Sean Lennon, Jamie Saft, and Wadada Leo Smith. 

The next year saw the issuing O'o, featuring the same players and spririt as The Dreamers.

Zorn reformed Masada as a sextet with Uri Caine and Cyro Baptista in 2009, noting,

"I felt like we kind of hit a plateau a little bit with it in 2007 and I said, 'Well, maybe the quartet is really done. Maybe we’ve accomplished what we can accomplish. Maybe it’s time to put this to bed.' And then I was asked by the Marciac Jazz Festival to put together a slightly larger group. They asked me what if I added a couple of people to Masada and I said, 'I can’t add anybody to the quartet. The quartet is the quartet, that’s what we do.' But then I thought, 'Well, if I was going to add someone I would probably ask Uri and Cyro.' So we tried it at Marciac and it was unbelievable. We didn’t even have any rehearsal time. I just passed the charts out and said, 'OK, just watch me because I’ll be conducting. Let’s just do it.' And it was one of those magical clicks on the bandstand that sometimes happens. So yeah, this band is taking off again. After 15 years of doing this music, we can still find new things."

In 2009, Richard Foreman directed Astronome: A Night at The Opera.

Volume IV of Arcana was released in September 2009, including essays by Derek Bailey, Nels Cline, Chris Cutler, Paul Dresher, Kenneth Gaburo, Shelley Hirsch, Wayne Horvitz, Vijay Iyer, Gordon Mumma, Matana Roberts, Katherine Supove and Carolyn Yarnell.  Volume V was issued in July 2010, subtitled Musicians on Music, Magic, and Mysticism.  Volume VI was published in 2012 with articles by Claire Chase, John Corigliano, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, David Lang, Tobias Picker, Gyan Riley, Jen Shyu, Julia Woolfe, Kenny Wollesen, and Charles Wuorinen.