So septuagenarian Lorin Maazel is chosen as the next conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Pierre Boulez, now 74, becomes Carnegie Hall's "new" composer in residence. Donald Rumsfeld, at 69. is brought back from the Vietnam era to be secretary of defense, again. Pseudopresident Shrub dutifully reinstates the policies of his 76-year-old father and takes advice from the old man's ancient cronies. The powers that be in America are desperately afraid to enter the 21st century, terrified of what my generation might bring, and, in music as in politics, are entrusting the country back to the generation before last in a futile attempt to hold on to the last moment of high modernism forever.
Not so Joshua Fried. (All right, that was a transparently tenuous segue, but I thought the above parallel was worth drawing to your at-tention.) Fried, only 42, has returned to blitz New York with more of his headphone-driven performance art, now marketed under the crowd-enticing title 'Headphone Follies." In case you haven't been paying attention, Fried has, in the last 10 years, developed his own frenetic brand of music theater by having singers listen to sounds and voices over headphones and recreate those sounds and voices exactly and simultaneously. Meanwhile, the audience hears, along with the live singers, tapes of a different music, placing the frantic performers in a strangely distanced context.
No one is allowed to perform one of Fried's headphone pieces more than once, since the excitement derives from hearing someone try to instantly re-create something they've never before. The amazing thing is that, after So many performances Fried can still find good virgin singers (well, with regard to his music anyway), and for his February 10 gig at Here, he enlisted some of new music's best: Kitty Brazelton, Jarboe, Lisa Karrer Dafna Naphtali, Dora Ohrenstein, Kristin Norderval, and Sandra Vojcic of the D'Divaz trio.
Most of what the Singers hear on the head-phones are words, one gathers, and those words come out of the singers' mouths garbled into various stages of incomprehensibility. The effect must vary a lot depending on how one's brain is wired for speech recognition and production;