There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
“Silver Apples of the Moon” is an ugly piece of music—when held up to traditional definitions of beauty, at least. But Morton Subotnick’s wacky 1967 composition defined “computer music” for a generation that hadn’t thought about it yet. Most Americans at that time were jamming to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and The Beatles’ “Penny Lane”; Subotnick, meanwhile, was plugging away at the new Tisch School of the Arts, figuring out how to make music that sounded nothing at all like music. He composed “Silver Apples” on a Buchla modular synthesizer, the synth that pioneered musical sequencing. The contraption resembled a telephone operator’s switchboard—enormous, difficult to learn, and intentionally complex, unlike the piano-like Moog synthesizer that debuted at the Monterey International Pop Festival that same year. Subotnick’s piece was such a sensation that Johnny Carson invited him to appear on his program, but the composer declined, telling the Wall Street Journal last year, “He would have wanted to talk about something happening at that moment, but I was too busy looking to the future to stop.” Subotnick lectures at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland’s Dekelboum Concert Hall, Stadium Drive and Route 193, College Park. He performs “Silver Apples of the Moon” at 8 p.m. Both events are free. claricesmithcenter.umd.edu. (301) 405-ARTS.