Sunday, October 6, 2019, 3pm
PNCA Mediatheque

As one of the most influential teachers at London’s Royal Academy of Art (RCA) from 1966 to 1976, Hans Coper’s impact was described as “gentle, yet shattering.” He more often than not took his students to a teashop and talked about jazz, noting that “improvisation” around a theme was part of his own practice. It was the 1960s and students were reacting to the cultural shifts in Britain towards radicalism and individuality. None made work like Coper.

Around the beginning of Coper’s time at the RCA, guitarist and painter Keith Rowe and saxophonist Lou Gare had begun holding weekly open music sessions at the RCA, which gradually led to the formation of the group AMM with drummer Eddie Prevost and bassist Lawrence Sheaff. They were soon joined by experimental composer, musician, and graphic artist Cornelius Cardew, who was just completing work on his monumental graphic score Treatise. Cardew’s addition cemented AMM’s position at the nexus of new experimental music, jazz, and conceptual art.

The music of AMM and Cardew in the ‘60s balanced control and freedom, silence and noise, tangential jazz influences and the sounds of everyday life. It could be difficult to listen to. It could also be bracingly beautiful, dauntingly intellectual, spare and minimal—adjectives that could as easily describe the work of Hans Coper.



Matt Carlson, piano & electronics
Lee Elderton, saxophone
Matt Hannafin, percussion
Caspar Sonnet, lap steel dobro

In the mid-1960s, no AMM performance was ever planned; each was unique and spontaneous, with musicians following their own individual paths toward an unknown end. At the same time, Cornelius Cardew was creating purely graphic musical scores, with the intention that musicians should articulate their own understanding of the pieces rather than try to discern the composer’s intentions.
Those two different but related performance tactics will be explored by the musicians in the performance.

Using theories, strategies, and aesthetics that had their beginnings with AMM and contemporaneous 1960s composers and musicians, the group will perform two extended improvisations: one using Hans Coper’s work as inspiration, one using select pages from Cardew’s graphic score "Treatise."

Moderated by Whitney Lowe and Sandra Percival

Matt Hannafin and the performing musicians will be joined by the moderators for a conversation and speculation on “improvisation.” How do we see and listen to the music of Cardew and AMM in relationship to the forms of Coper’s work? Could Coper’s shapes and textures be read as a score? Could their individual resonances be read as music? How does Coper’s focus on improvisation around a theme relate to jazz, and to AMM/Cardew’s extension into a more abstract improvisational sound world?

MATT HANNAFIN (percussion) is a New York–born, Portland-based percussionist active in experimental music, improvisation, and Iranian classical and traditional music. His teachers included composer La Monte Young, Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath, Persian tar and tombak master Kavous Shirzadian, and percussionists Jamey Haddad, Glen Velez, Layne Redmond, and John Amira. He is the curator and director of Portland’s Extradition Series ( and is also a professional writer and editor.

WHITNEY LOWE is a renowned graphic designer, architect, and ceramic artist. He studied Architecture at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, received a BFA in Graphic Design & Packaging at Art Center College of Design, and a Post-Bacc in ceramics from Oregon College of Art and Craft. Lowe currently has an exhibition of ceramics, “Turbidity and the Peristaltic” on view at Froelick Gallery, September 3-October 12, 2019.

CORNELIUS CARDEW (1933–1981) was an English experimental music composer and performer who was an assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen from 1958 to 1960 and, in 1966, joined the free improvisation group AMM as cellist and pianist. He introduced the works of American experimental composers Morton Feldman, La Monte Young, Earle Brown, Christian Wolf, and John Cage to English audiences during the mid-sixties and came to have a considerable impact on the development of English music from the late sixties onward. Cardew’s most important score from his experimental period was Treatise (1963–67), a 193-page graphic score which allows near-absolute freedom of interpretation. Cornelius Cardew’s father was Michael Cardew (1901–1983), a British studio potter and protégé of Bernard Leach who described him as “one of the finest potters of the century.”

HANS COPER (1920–1981) was a radical Jewish artist of the mid–twentieth century who was at the vanguard of British studio ceramics, pushing the boundaries of clay and forms of abstraction in his work. Coper pursued Bauhaus architect Mies van de Rohe’s maxim “less is more.” He was deeply influenced by ancient Greek and Roman art and shared an affinity with Giacometti and Brancusi. American minimalist artist Dan Flavin collected Coper’s work and dedicated nine all-white neon works to him in 1990. Coper’s work has recently been shown in Japan, New Zealand, and The Netherlands.

A programming arm of the Creative Music Guild, the Extradition Series ( presents concerts and recitals that exist at the intersection of composition and improvisation, intentionality and chance, clarity and silence. Each performance blends the composer’s vision and the musicians’ creativity into a singular realization, creating a shared avenue of new musical exploration for both performers and audience.

Curated by Sandra Percival and produced by Zena Zezza. Co-presented with Pacific Northwest College of Art with special thanks to Teresa Christiansen, Mack McFarland, Connor Ray and Maxwell Brown.
Cornelius Cardew (1933-1981)
Cornelius Cardew (1933-1981)
Cornelius Cardew, Score from "Treatise" (1963-1967)
Cornelius Cardew, Score from "Treatise" (1963-1967)