3rd Annual Festival of
Experimental Improvised Music

Baltimore, 2001

Thursday Sept. 13th-Sunday, Sept. 16th

The Theater Project

45 West Preston Street

Baltimore, Maryland


A dazzling mix of innovation, imagination, and integrity now in its third year, the HIGH ZERO festival is one of the most idealistic and elevating experimental music ventures in North America. Join us in September for four exhilarating days of musical exploration!

Our Mission

A unique festival in North America, HIGH ZERO is focused solely on new collaborations in freely improvised experimental music. Internationally famous musicians play side by side with younger "unknowns," united by their commitment to the musical imagination.  For four days in September each year, Baltimore becomes a fertile meeting-ground for a group of inspired players drawing from an international subculture. The festival exposes large audiences to this radical music in its pure form. Each year, dedicated musicians and sound-artists come as individuals to participate in entirely new improvised collaborations.

The festival exposes large audiences to this radical music in its pure form. Large-scale public concerts, recording sessions, workshops, and guerilla street performances are all part of the heady mix. The players are carefully selected by the festival's organizers for their refined, unique music, whether it is based around dramatic intensity, humor, specially designed and built instruments, original approach, raw sound, or nearly superhuman instrumental technique. The resulting collaborations challenge the limits of music and delight by their audacity, expressiveness, immediacy, and innovation. It isn't about stars or bands; it is about the most uncompromising and stimulating improvised music we can bring together.

Why Baltimore?

Now in its third year, HIGH ZERO is a grassroots-organized event and brainchild of the critically acclaimed (and unfunded) RED ROOM performance space, an ongoing series which has hosted over 300 performances of experimental music since it began in 1996. (See www.redroom.org on the web.) Avant-garde music in North America is often played in small clubs and art galleries like the RED ROOM, but HIGH ZERO breaks through to a larger audience. Surprisingly, in recent years Baltimore has joined Chicago, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Montreal as a center for avant-garde musical activity in North America. HIGH ZERO, now in its third year, is an outgrowth of this unique development of Baltimore culture, and also a rare coming together of artists from Europe and North America.


The History of HIGH ZERO

"Best New Cultural Event, 2000"
- Baltimore City Paper

"No one walked away disappointed, as this year's first annual HIGH ZERO Festival of Experimental Improvised Music left the large crowds at every session enthralled. "

--Steve A. Loewy, Cadence Magazine, 1999

"A striking glimpse into the avant-garde and a creative process limited only by the imagination. "

--Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, 2000

Born September of 1999 to the wailing of fire alarms, growling tubas and home-built electronic instruments, the first HIGH ZERO festival was a startlingly unusual event, mixing sold-out and capacity crowds with highly challenging and engaging music. Cadence magazine praised the event to the heavens and wondered how it could happen in a place like Baltimore.  Indeed, audience members and local musicians alike were all aware that a fundamental shift had occurred during the festival in the visibility of this typically underground music. The festival exposed over 700 audience members to new collaborations between 30 local, national, and international players over four long concerts. The music was inspired, outlandish, moving and thought provoking. In 2000, HIGH ZERO drew even larger crowds than the first year, added recording sessions and guerilla street performances, and, most importantly, created a space for some incredible, inspired music. Two CDs, a documentary video, and an audio-visual documentation web site from that festival are in the works.

This Year's Festival!

September 13th to 16th, HIGH ZERO will bring together 28 amazing individuals culled from underground experimental music scenes of Canada, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This year, we will hold all five long concerts (twenty sets!) over four days at The Theater Project, a beautiful venue with great acoustics and stadium seating. Through the intense collaborations of these diverse players, we expect an extraordinary four days. A schedule of sets will be available made available in August.


The musicians of High Zero 2001:

Thomas Ankersmidt (saxophone) Berlin

Jim Baker (Arp synthesizer, piano) Chicago

John Berndt (saxophone, self-built instruments, electronics) Baltimore

Dan Breen (bass, drums, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Mike Bullock (contrabass) Boston

Charles Cohen (Buchla synthesizer) Philadelphia

Daniel Conrad (flute, voice, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Mike Cooper (national steel guitar, electronics) Rome

Helena Espvall (cello, banjo) Stockholm and Philadelphia
Neil Feather (self-built instruments) Baltimore

Eric Franklin (theremin, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Lafayette Gilchrist (keyboard) Baltimore

David Gross (reeds) Boston

Andy Hayleck (guitar, electronics, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Katt Hernandez (violin) Boston

Peter Kowald (contrabass) Wuppertall [Germany]

Keenan Lawler (national steel guitar, electronics) Louisville

Eric Letourneau (computer, various) Montreal

Lukas Ligeti (drums, electronics) New York City

Kaffe Matthews (live sampling) London

Christopher Meeder (tuba) New York City

Ian Nagoski (electronics) Baltimore

Catherine Pancake (percussion) Baltimore

Evan Rapport (reeds, piano) Baltimore

Dean Roberts (guitar, electronics) Milan

Leslie Ross (bassoon) New York City

Jason Willett (anything) Baltimore

Jack Wright (reeds) Boulder

More Information
Press information, including downloadable hi-res photos and biographic material will be available shortly through www.highzero.org.

As in the previous two years, HIGH ZERO 2001 is funded through admission and individual and corporate donations. If you would like to support the festival and make a tax deductible donation, purchase a festival pass, or inquire about affordable advertising in the festival program, call John Berndt at 410 889 5854 or email at johnb@berndtgroup.net.