New York (New York), USA – David Lewiston, the British-born
producer whose adventurous ear and globe-trekking spirit led to a career
spanning more than four decades and dozens of seminal recordings, most notably
for the groundbreaking Nonesuch “Explorer” series, will make a rare New York appearance at the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA),
beginning Wednesday, May 10, 2006. The Museum, which is dedicated to art
from the Himalayas and surrounding regions, will present a panel discussion of
Lewiston’s groundbreaking career at 7 PM and a special live concert of Tibetan
music on Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. in the Museum’s theatre, as well as a Tibetan
music workshop on Saturday, May 12 at 12 noon. The Rubin Museum of Art is
located at 150 West 17th Street (corner of 17th street & 7th Avenue), New York,
Prior the 1960s, when Mr. Lewiston’s field recordings were originally
released, nobody imagined that “ethnic music” could be marketed as entertainment
for discerning listeners. But his “Explorer” output, issued in brightly colored
sleeves with detailed, engrossing liner notes and at a retail price that made
aural globetrotting not only attractive but affordable, changed all that.
Certain titles, especially the shimmering, multi-layered Indonesian
soundscapes, became favorites with the era’s long-form FM radio stations. Side
Bali -Golden Rain, which was devoted to a mesmerizing 22-minute
“kecak” chant, was often aired uncut, with unintended results. “Tracey (aka
Teresa Sterne — 1927-2000, revolutionary A&R Coordinator of Nonesuch Records)
told me that at WBAI, during late night music programs, the DJ would say ‘OK,
light that joint, here it comes’!“, Mr. Lewiston recalled with laugh. He
later moved on to invaluable collaborations with the BBC Sound Archives, Bridge
Records, Ellipsis Arts and Shanachie Records. For all his trademark
self-effacing humor, the impact of Mr. Lewiston’s “back of beyond” recordings
has been immense, inspiring folk and pop musicians from the Grateful Dead to Tim
Buckley. The recent reissue of many of his Nonesuch titles on CD has introduced
a new generation of world music fans to Lewiston’s extraordinary catalog.
For the past quarter-century, much of Lewiston’s time and energy have gone into
documenting the rites of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1987 and 1994, he returned to
Bali, spending eight months recording the island’s music digitally. The late
1990s found him revisiting his favorite Himalayan communities plus recording the
Sufi music of Fez, Morocco and the polyphonic folk songs of the Caucasus.
At age seventy-six, Mr. Lewiston is primarily engaged in organizing and
protecting his legacy of music from Indonesia, Asia, North Africa, and Central
and South America. In early 2005, the National Academy of Recording Arts and
Sciences made a grant to begin conservation of the recordings in the Lewiston
Archive. Mr. Lewiston is readying several recordings under the auspices of the
Honolulu-based National Organization for Traditional Arts Exchange. The Archive
also includes hundred of hours of traditional and sacred recordings that he
hopes to preserve and make available for release in the coming years.
Having formerly been far too busy in the field to bother much with
self-promotion, Mr. Lewiston is now committing himself to efforts to preserve a
lifetime of recordings. The Rubin Museum of Art celebration May 10th –13th will
allow this musical explorer to receive some of the accolades so long overdue.
Lewiston lives on Maui, Hawaii and seldom visits the mainland, so a chance to
enjoy his witty recollections at first-hand is a not-to-missed opportunity.
Panel participants will include producer Joe Boyd, Washington Post music critic
Tim Page, Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo, and others. The concert features female
singer Chime Youdon.
Events with David Lewiston
Wednesday, May 10
Participants to include producer Joe Boyd, Washington Post music critic Tim
Page, Tibetan singer Yungchen Lhamo and others to be announced.
$12 (includes admission to the Museum’s galleries before the event)
Music of Tibet Concert
All-acoustic performance of Tibetan folk music
Including Chime Youdon (female singer from Tibetan Institute of Performing
Arts) among others
Friday, May 12
$20 (includes admission to the Museum’s galleries before the event)
Music of Tibet Workshop
Saturday, May 13
$25 (includes admission to the Museum’s galleries)
Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344
A, C and E to 14th St. 8th Avenue
1 to 18th St. 7th Avenue
1, 2, 3 to 14th St. 7th Avenue
F and V to 14th St. 6th Avenue
L to 14th St. 6th Avenue
N, R, Q, W, 4, 5 and 6 to 14th St. Union Square
B20 to corner of 7th Ave and 17th St.
Rubin Museum of Art (RMA), the premier
museum of Himalayan art in the Western world, was established in 2004. In the
short time since its founding RMA has been universally recognized by newcomers
and connoisseurs alike for how it has showcased the “arts of the Himalayas and
where they lead you”. Through its collections and extensive public programming,
the museum is both a resource to and a reflection of the diverse communities and
heritages that live in or travel to the New York region.
David Lewiston Biography:
David Lewiston is best known for his field recordings of the world’s traditional
music, for which he has received international recognition.
During some four decades of field work in Indonesia, Asia, the
Caucasus, North Africa, and Central and South America, he has created an
unparalleled archive of some 320 hours of world music recordings. On many of his
travels, he also created photographic documentation of the life and culture of
the communities he visited. Lewiston studied composition at Trinity College of
Music, London (1949-1952), and later with the Russian composer Thomas de
Hartmann in New York. A musician of broad interests, de Hartmann introduced
Lewiston to the music of Central Asia.
In the following years, Lewiston studied the traditional musics of the world,
supporting himself by working as a financial news editor. In 1966 Lewiston
travelled to Java and Bali, recording the music of the islands with one of the
first portable stereo tape recorders. From this journey came the groundbreaking
From The Morning Of The World: Gamelan and Ketjak” the first of his
28 recordings for the Nonesuch Explorer Series.
Lewiston spent much of 1967 and 1968 in South America, recording the Andean
music of Peru, and the Black music of Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil. In 1975-76
he visited Central America, documenting the marimba music of Guatemala and the fiestas of Chiapas
and Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
Since 1972 he has traveled extensively in the Himalaya and Karakoram,
documenting the music of the high mountains from Darjeeling and Sikkim in the
East, to Himachal Pradesh, the Vale of Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit and Hunza in the
Lewiston has made many friends among the Tibetans living in exile in India,
and for the past quarter-century much of his time and energy have gone into
conserving the rites of Tibetan Buddhism.
Photo 2 – David Lewiston, 1973, Pakistan