Innovative Residency to Feature Audience Performing in a Rainforest

A forthcoming music/media residency, to be given by the McLean Mix, the internationally-recognized husband-wife composer-performer duo should be of special interest to all who are fascinated by music incorporating the wondrous sights and sounds of the tropical rainforest with the latest experimental computer and electronic music techniques. The residency is sponsored by the Truman Interdisciplinary Studies Programs, The Center for Teaching and Learning, the School of Health Sciences and Education, and the Department of Music.

Barton and Priscilla McLean (the McLean Mix) are classically-trained composers who are now exploring ways of directly using the above themes as compositional sources. As the major portion of the residency, the McLeans will present “Rainforest,” a work based on the nocturnal impressions one receives in a tropical rainforest, inspired by actual recent expeditions by the McLeans to rainforests in the Amazon, Puerto Rico, the Everglades, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and most recently, an expedition to the jungles of Borneo, living with a former headhunter tribe. In this installation format, the collaborative work has no beginning or ending (just as the timeless rainforest itself), but rather, the listener defines these by walking into the room (beginning) and leaving (end). Upon entering he/she will hear a sultry, restful “drone” with forest sounds overlaid. He/she will see various stations in the room and, upon approaching one, will sit down at a synthesizer, microphone, or amplified autoharp and according to the simple instructions provided, will actually make music on the instrument. All the sounds of the instruments are intended to sound well together, no matter what the combination. Therefore, the performer can do no wrong. The visitor is encouraged to wander about, sometimes listening to the ever-changing kaleidoscope of sound, sometimes contributing to the performance, as he/she desires. When the visitor has had enough, he/she can enjoy the multiple slide projections of surrealist images of the rainforest, with the soft vibrations of the installation in the background.

Unlike many classical computer music composer-performers, the McLeans manage to prosper in what they do without benefit of any other full-time position, surviving principally on their music performance. To this end the McLean Mix has performed extensively in all sections of  the U.S. and in a number of European countries in such forums as the Zagreb International Muzicki Biennale and the Pacific Rim and Asia (Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Malaysia and the Philippines). Recipients of six NEA grants, their music has been performed in most of the major music festivals of the world, such as Warsaw Autumn, Graz, Bourges and Gaudeamus. They have a total of 14 commercially-available recordings and CDs on the labels Folkways, CRI, Louisville Orchestra, Orion, Opus One, Advance, Centaur, MLC and Capstone. Having pioneered many of the electronic music techniques we now take for granted, they both teach from time to time in major universities such as the University of Hawaii, University of Texas, R.P.I. and Indiana University.

For “Rainforest,” visitors are welcome to go to Violette Hall 1000 any time between 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 2. On April 3, people may attend any time between 9-10:30 a.m. or 12:30-4:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring small instruments if they wish (woodwinds, violin, bird calls, whistles, harmonica, etc.). A special concert, Natural Energy, will be given at 7:30 p.m. April 4. For further information, contact Robert Martin at or 785.4385.
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