Alvin Curran, born in 1938, is a composer dedicated to returning dignity to the music profession and freeing it from the competitive edge of the capitalist society. Curran's approach to music is a part of his personal quest for different and potentially better socio-political situations and spiritual modes of living. This approach, just like the ups and downs in life, is reflected in the paradoxes of the composer's style which, at first sight, puts incompatible techniques in a dialectical relationship. Curran thus counterposes classical composition and improvisation, tonality and atonality, and creates a database of some two hundred works that use sampled noises from the environment, computer processing and synthesizers, but also piano, violin, shofar, percussions etc.
Curran is the co-founder of the Musica Electronica Viva ensemble and a very recognizable avant-gardist of the 1970s. Twenty years later, in 1991, he wrote Inner Cities as a piece for piano, and expanded it into a series of twelve pieces of the total duration of six hours. Prone to paradoxes and “bipolarity” in the music creation, in this series Curran accepts the idea of duality, bares all musical elements to their very core resulting in lyricism and tenderness interchanging with rawness and wildness. Each piece starts with an idea, an accord or a cell sample that becomes the source of the narration and development. This results in many things: from the most basic melody creation out of a single sound, like in Inner Cities, to a great postmodern sonata in which music, according to the author, does not understand anymore where it comes from or where it is going.
Finally, the complexity and the combination of motifs in Inner Cities, to be performed at the 30th MBZ by a piano player Daan Vandewalle, is best described by a fragment of the composer’s stream of consciousness: “Inner Cities are where you go to get debriefed, to dance a tarantella with Gurdjieff; to see Italo Calvino greet Giordano Bruno in Campo De’ Fiori; to play low C 78 times and low D-flat once for Giacinto Scelsi’s 79th birthday; to hear Louis Armstrong fuse time and space in Providence, and Ella, Peanuts Hucko, and Brubeck fill a Newport stadium unamplified (…).”