Well crap - Mills College closing

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Mills College closing?
Say that to anyone interested in experimental music and watch the tears flow down their face.
From the New York Times:

Is the Music Over at Mills College?
Even the concert hall at Mills College is different.

Looming at the back of the stage is a huge, bright mural of a forest opening onto a deep blue lake. The ceiling is painted in geometric patterns and vivid colors. Frescos of Gregorian chant scores flank the stage.

We are not in sedate, monochromatic Carnegie Hall. No, Littlefield Concert Hall at Mills, in Oakland, Calif., is a vibrant, even eccentric place, where it is clear from the surroundings that music outside the mainstream is not simply tolerated, but celebrated.

“There was a real atmosphere of comfort and support for whatever it is that you wanted to do,” the composer David Rosenboom, who led the music program at Mills in the 1980s, said in an interview.

Now that program and the electronics-focused Center for Contemporary Music, together among the most distinguished havens for experimental work in America over the past century, are facing possible closure. On March 17 the college, founded in 1852, announced that ongoing financial problems, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, would mean the end of its history as a degree-granting institution made up of an undergraduate women’s college and several coeducational graduate programs.

Pending approval by its board of trustees, the school’s final degrees are likely to be conferred in 2023. The statement announcing the proposed closure alluded to plans for a “Mills Institute” on the 135-acre campus, but the focus of such an institute — and whether it would include the arts — is unclear.

You might not recognize the names of the graduates but you certainly have heard their music:

It has been an astonishing run. The school’s faculty over the years has been practically an index of maverick artists, including Darius Milhaud, at Mills for three decades beginning during World War II; Luciano Berio, who came at Milhaud’s invitation; Lou Harrison, who built an American version of the Indonesian gamelan percussion orchestra; the “deep listening” pioneer Pauline Oliveros; Robert Ashley, an innovator in opera; Terry Riley, a progenitor of Minimalism; the influential composer and improviser Anthony Braxton; James Fei, a saxophonist and clarinetist who works with electronic sounds; and Maggi Payne, a longtime director of the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills’s laboratory for electronic work since the 1960s, when Oliveros was its first leader.

Among the alumni are Dave Brubeck, Steve Reich, John Bischoff, William Winant and Laetitia Sonami; several former students ended up returning to teach after graduating.

“What Mills College had was unique,” said Riley, who taught there from 1971 to 1981. “I have never in my travels encountered another institution like it.”

Crap - I hope that they are able to preserve their archives.  They have an incredible collection of musical instruments and recordings. They were the source. The fount. Mills had always been on my horizon. A place for a pilgrimage.  Never got there though.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 1, 2021 6:48 PM.

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