Last night at the Corcoran Gallery, the Contemporary Music Forum opened its 12th season with works involving tape-recorded sounds, audience participation and a world premiere, thus continuing its admirable tradition of exposing Washington audiences to recent examples of contemporary composition.
The most substantial work on the program was the string quartet "A Travel Journal" by Thomas Allen LeVines, heard for the first time on this concert as part of LeVines' prize for winning the Friday Morning Music Club International Competition for composers. The work is well crafted and imaginative, deserving not only of its prize but also of subsequent hearings. Containing 17 haiku-inspired sections in three movements, it encompasses a broad range of moods and sounds, all displaying the composer's obvious affection for the medium. The Jefferson Quartet responded expertly to the many shifts of color and demands for ensemble cohesion.
In "Mnemonics" for Violin and Computer, interesting taped sounds interacted cleverly with Helmut Braunlich's live violin, but the work lacked any compelling sense of direction. As for "Caravan," a group improvisation piece led by Frances McKay and Katherine Hay, the audience participated enthusiastically, providing a predictable performance that was questionable as art but nonetheless enjoyable as experience.