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NWEAMO 2002:
The 4th Annual International
Portland/San Diego Electro-Acoustic Festival

First appeared in the Willamette Week, October, 2002

“There are all these people now who are coming to music in non-traditional ways,” explains Joe Waters, “they didn’t start playing violin at the age of five. They may have started out playing in rock bands or, these days, making music in their bedroom on their computer.”

It was with these people in mind that Waters founded NWEAMO: the Northwest Electro-Acoustic Music Organization. “The whole mission of NWEAMO is to create connections between the electronic classical avant-garde and the experimental fringe of pop electronica.”

NWEAMO’s annual showcase of experimental performances started back in 1998 while Waters was teaching at Lewis & Clarke. He has since moved to San Diego and started an Electro-Acoustic Music program at San Diego State University. But, rather than simply move the festival to San Diego, Waters decided to put it on in both cities. “I set up this whole organization in Portland and I’ve been around long enough to realize that you just don’t let things go… it’s your life’s legacy.”

As with previous years, the fourth festival has a theme: “works with a performance art aspect.” Not that the committee sifting through the hundreds of entries would ignore anything less performance oriented, but they were “hoping to find a few particularly performance oriented acts to feature.”

The results include acts such as CMAU (who use contact microphones to amplify homemade instruments and found objects), Milena Iossifova (who plays the VoiceMutator, a computer-aided instrument based on the human voice and of her own design), Michael Theodore and Terry Longshore (who combine tabla with computer processing) and Maxime De La Rochefoucauld (who turns the performance aspects over to machines: an ensemble of automatons who play their “oddly organic polyrhythms”).

So, if you’re looking for throbbing techno beats, this isn’t the show for you. But with fourteen eclectic, electro-acoustic acts from seven countries playing over two days... there’s plenty for the more adventurous listener to get excited about.

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