Wednesday, July 05, 2006

In Time Of Mourning, Music From the Balinese Morning of the World

"Forty years ago David Lewiston decided to change his life. He traded a desk job for a self-invented career as "a musical tourist": a recorder and collector of traditional music from dozens of countries over a territory that extends from Bali to Kashmir to Peru. He has brought back recordings for the Nonesuch Explorer Series, and then for other labels, that became revelations for many listeners: albums like "Music From the Morning of the World," his ear-opening Balinese collection.

Mr. Lewiston is not an ethnomusicologist or any other kind of academic. His guideline, he said, is simply "the pleasure principle."

Mr. Lewiston, 77, now lives on the Hawaiian island of Maui. There he has 400 hours of music — half of it digitized from his old tapes, half of it recorded digitally — and 12,000 photos that he wants to archive, catalog and perhaps find a way to make available online. "While I'm still alive, I have to make sure this material gets archived," he said. The entire project, he estimates, would cost between $150,000 and $200,000. "I don't have it myself," he said. "I need to find somebody who's got more money than they know what to do with."

He visited New York City not long ago to speak at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea and to revisit briefly Greenwich Village, one of his haunts as a young man. At a Village cafe, he spoke about a lifetime of what he calls "creative stumbling."

Mr. Lewiston, who is English, earned a graduate diploma in 1953 from Trinity College of Music in London, where he studied piano. He grew interested in the spiritual teachings and philosophy of G. I. Gurdjieff, who had traveled widely in Asia. Gurdjieff was also a composer, drawing on non-Western traditions, and his music suggested to Mr. Lewiston that there were possibilities beyond the Western classical canon. Mr. Lewiston came to the United States to study piano with Thomas de Hartmann, Gurdjieff's musical collaborator and the leading interpreter of their compositions." ...

Jon Pareles "David Lewiston, a 'Musical Tourist' of the World" New York Times, July 5, 2006

Hindu cremation ritual on the Island of Bali, Indonesia.

Photo credit: (c) Dominique et Paul Mariottini.
Bali : Rite sacré, une crémation dans la jungle
Absolute Travel Mag With thanks.


American Composer Gerald Levinson

For the Morning of the World. Suite for Chamber Orchestra (1983) -- 27'
1(Picc. A.Fl.)-1(E.H.)-2-1; 1-2-1-0; 2Perc., Pno.(Cel.), Str.(2Vln., Vla., Vcl., Cb.; or small string section)

Available from the Presser Rental Library
Commission Information: Yale University
Premiere Information: Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Ronald Roseman, conductor; July, 1983. Recordings and reviews are available.


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