There are two programs this summer at the Gesundheit! Institute in West Virginia that I am involved in:
- School for Designing a Society: a three-week course in Desire and Design, June 29-July 20
- Xenharmonic Praxis Summer Camp: a 12-day intensive in the composition and performance of microtonal music
For me, these two programs are interconnected in a curious history of the past six years. You see, I first discovered the School for Designing a Society in 2005 in a quest for a microtonal summer program. I did a Google search with the text “Warren Burt summer 2005”, and up popped SDaS, who had done some collaboration with the illustrious Burt back in 2001 when he visited U of I’s composition world.
It was a serendipity, for in attending SDaS in 2005 I found many crucial ingredients to my living which I hadn’t found before: a community of people very different from each other yet able to learn from each other; a way for composition to be relevant to anyone at all; a practice for listening to my own desires, what *I* want and envision, not only for myself but for the world, turning my everyday performances and language into crucial, significant, chosen actions; and ways of thinking the “big picture” which didn’t overwhelm me with powerlessness.
SDaS’s emphasis on designing and then trying out new-and-needed real-world projects is what led to my formulation of my desire for the microtonal summer camp that I had wanted SDaS to be, and for a musical instrument library. We started Oddmusic-UC in May 2009 as a musical instrument library in Urbana. This summer, armed with clearer and clearer formulations of social musical problems in fruitful friction with our social and musical desires, we dive into the beautiful mountain retreat of the Gesundheit! Institute and attempt to forge yet negotiate a temporary microtonal community within the ongoing microtonal movement.
Meanwhile, the Summer School for Designing a Society kicks off at Gesundheit! for its 8th consecutive year. Because the curriculum is so driven by the desires of the participants, every slight variation in the participants tends to have big consequences on what actually happens. Whatever happens will show us how undeniably we matter to the world, to each other.