Michael Ranta is a legendary but now almost totally unknown percussionist, composer, and improviser who left the U.S. in the late 1960s and has lived abroad ever since. He worked closely with some of the most important composers of the 20th century including Karlheinz Stockhausen, Harry Partch, Jean-Claude Eloy, Mauricio Kagel, and Helmut Lachenmann. In 1977, after seven years in Taiwan learning tai-chi, he settled in Cologne and opened the shop Asian Sound, a source of hard-to-find Asian percussion instruments. Since 2010, the Belgian record label Metaphon has been unearthing hours of unheard music from Ranta’s archives of percussion and electroacoustic music. Composer/percussionist Sarah Hennies has recently undertaken a project to perform and record a large body of scored chamber music mostly from the 1970s that has never been recorded and heard by very few.
Ranta’s works are almost totally unknown with no evidence of live performances. Though it is impossible to know for sure, it seems that almost no one has heard them. This program includes two of these works, Mharuva (1977) for solo marimba and Continuum II (1998) for two bass clarinets, one percussionist, and four-channel tape performed by Hennies and clarinetists Madison Greenstone and Katie Porter. Collectively, the three musicians bring years of experience as performers of experimental music to breathe life into an almost totally unknown major chamber composition for this rare instrumentation.
The Greenstone/Hennies/Porter trio (formed specifically to perform Continuum II by Ranta) will also premiere a brand new work by Hennies.