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Go Bake a Tape (or: Tron lives!)
Notes on 1998: I - Woundings
Notes on 1998, II - East Side Digital
Notes on 1998, III - The Trojan "Tribute"
Notes on 1998, IV - Fade to 1999
New record deal Announcement
Notes on Woundings on its completion
Another Eclipse and New Domain Name
First report on the filmscore to Woundings
Cheng-Cochran premieres Ravelled Threads
First report on Tales of Heaven and Hell
Bach at the Beacon, report one
Bach at the Beacon, report two
Bach at the Beacon, report three
Bach at the Beacon, report four, photos

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LeafGo Bake a Tape
(or, Tron lives!)

Warning: unauthorized Tron CD's

For quite a few years now, I've worried about, and mentioned here, the panic and depression that sets in once you experience your original Dolby Master tapes turning into PTS (Pure Tree Sap!) It's by now a very well known condition, and some of you have gone through the debacle. I'd like to thank those of you wrote me and explained that there are several steps you can take to restore (albeit only temporarily) these tapes to playable condition. Gives one time to make a few very clean copies, so that if the master continues to croak, at least you'll have these protection copies.
Evenso, until I had learned all that was going on, and had the ability to perform the necessary "baking" and other steps here myself, it remained a promise on the horizon. For the record, I had tried Ampex professional tapes (#456) in the early 70's (these reels are all still fine, including the recently remastered Sonic Seasonings, by the way,) as they seemed to have a higher output with lower noise than the 3-M I used before then. But after several years, 3-M came out with an even better formulation, 206-207, and you know how it goes, I went back to using my old favorite brand.
That turned out to be lucky, as it was around the mid 70's that Ampex introduced another even higher output oxide, with a newly formulated binder as well, that exacted a deadly curse upon all who used it. Of course it wasn't realized at first, it took a few years. The new binder was no longer the stable, inert formulation it had been. The supplier of the new batches had inadvertently allowed many short molecules, much shorter than before, to dominate the mix. These are very hygroscopic molecules, which simply means they absorb water readily, right out of the air.
The water causes a change in the state of the binder -- it becomes a semi-liquid, and migrates from behind and in between the oxide particles, gluing them together and to the backing, up to the front oxide surface, where in its softened state it acts as a pretty effective glue, sticking to heads, guides, leader tape, fingers, rat hairs and floor sweeping... all the things you don't want attached to your magnetic tape surfaces, which ought be smooth, dry, clean, and slippery!
Many of you well know all of this. A trick which took a while to discover, was to bake the affected tapes gently in a controlled "oven" of some kind, for a few hours, enough to drive off the water, and allow many of the molecules to migrate back where they belong. You also must allow the tapes to cool back down slowly, or water gets reabsorbed. And you can't use a gas oven, which generates steam molecules in the warm air (if it also doesn''t wreck your tapes from uneven heating!) The back coating was affected in similar ways, on tapes that used this well-intended bad idea. This coating is also made somewhat more stable by the slow heating and cooling process.
Unfortunately, 3-M soon copied the Ampex lead, and their tapes (which I was now using, 226 and 227) became nearly as bad during 1980 - 1987 aprox. That's why I lost the ability to play or copy my music to Kubrick's The Shining, Disney's "Tron", and the album analog masters I made from Digital Moonscapes through Peter & the Wolf (the last on some 2" tape reels I still had in stock here, the bad stuff...) At least I had digital mixes on the last three projects, and they are just fine today, very playable.
Well, I'm here to tell you tonight: "So are all the other masters!" So you can expect CDs of essentially all the older music, including Tron (yup), once contractual arrangements are made. Yeay! (Beware the listings of my music on auction sites. Don't believe that any older albums have already been re-released or remastered until you read it here first.) The final nudge came from a definitive article by Eddie Cilletti, one of the best writers at EQ magazine, on the topic of tape-baking. He generously allowed me to edit and extend the information somewhat, and post it here on our site, for others of you to read. Follow the suggestions, try using a non-important old tape initially, until you build up confidence to do what initially looks like potential tape-death (just go ahead, it works!) Get the American Harvest dehydrator he mentions first, it's just so safe and convenient, and not very expensive.

Read all about it:
If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a tape!

This past week I baked the 1/2" Tron masters, and the sound-texture (and additional Tron music) four-track masters, and they came out just fine (can't wait to listen to it all myself shortly.) I had first to splice safety lengths of blank tape at each white plastic leader, as these showed dangerous signs of gluing themselves to the oxide wrapped just around it during the baking, and several test reels lost about 2' of the tail length of each cue -- I watched helplessly as the oxide peeled off the backing -- echh! At least these were in the echo trail off, as a result of my changing over to Heads-wind when Dolby A came in (I could hear no audible difference in pre-post echo). If the tapes had been the more usual Tails-wind, those 2' lengths would have been at the very start of the cues -- not so easy to fix in the DAW!
One of the tiny additions I made to Eddie's good piece is about using 3-M isoloop tape machines to wind tape smoothly before baking (a must). That is an important step: going through the masters each way, doing the splices of 2' bumpers at each leader (if any further oxide pull-off happens, it will be to these unimportant blank sections) and getting the tapes into good smooth wind shape for baking. The temp is only around 130 degrees F, or a tad more. 3-M tapes from the 80's don't seem to need such long times to heat, I found, and put this into my added table of times on Eddie's article, too.
The final step was to buy a new Alesis XT-20, the 20-bit ADAT, to provide a place to store all the stuff while it was again playable (you can supposedly do the bake trick again, but after 2-3 times, all bets are off!) I checked it out very carefully. Works like a bandit, the sounds is completely transparent, in double-blind tests (those initial ADATs were not!), and it's a pretty safe way to store copies of the surround mixes, while awaiting remasterings in the DAW. I just don't trust Hi-8 tapes in long storage, not since using them in my camcorder. My now "antique" Akai ADAM 12-tk DMT uses regular 8, at a very fast speed, for a density of bits per sq. inch close to what the new XT uses, very reassuring. Also, 20-bits is considerable overkill on a clean Dolby A master, which then becomes essentially self-dithering. The best such tapes will barely hit 17 bits of resolution, if the peaks were a bit clipped on the analog. Usually it's closer to 15 or 16 bits. If your levels are sloppy, you'll need another bit accuracy or two. Fine. It means all of the sound will be preserved on the XT-20. I'm using the best ADAT tapes recommended, and will use a few brands on additional copies, to be even safer. I suggest the same steps for any of you in the same boat.
One final suggestion: get some large zip style bags and small silica gel drying pouches. If the dehydrated tapes are stored in these before putting them in their boxes, it will retard the inevitable return to tree-sap. I've read of several others now who came up with that same obvious idea. I'm now trying to locate both of these, as after all, even if the help doesn't last for many years, it won't hurt a thing, and will slow the supply of H2O to those overly thirsty defective binder molecules -- do you hear that, molecules? Free drink's over. Expect a fight from now on!

--Wendy Carlos
February 1999

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LeafThat Difficult Year

LeafI - Woundings

Boy, the past year was a rough one! I guess we all get years like that, when everything good that comes along just seems to work out in the hardest way possible. In the end we get through it, and the results might even be very decent, and you're proud of what you did, but glad that it's all over. 1998 was like that here. The first five months I composed the music score to the new independent film, Woundings. It was partly as a favor for film business friends of mine, partly to see what the newest technology for synchronization and assembly of film music were like (using my "Secret Weapon"...), and partly because I'd not done any scoring in a while.
You may not realize I'd worked on four films since the Disney film, Tron, was released, with my last big score. But these projects never got off the ground, as a majority of films do not, and you just never hear more. I learned from them, sure, but it's not the same as having an actual release as proof of the work. My parents and friends had been asking me when I was going to try to score another film, and this was another motive to jump aboard Woundings.
There's no point in describing the whole experience here. If you read the excellent column by Jeff Rona in Keyboard magazine regularly, as I do, you'll have a pretty good idea already of what can go wrong in film scoring, where the fun parts are, and where nightmares often begin. It took much longer than expected, and was more difficult, but I stuck with it, and am pretty happy by the final music, and glad to have gotten involved. Some of the music will appear on a new filmscore CD by ESD late this year, and the film itself will probably appear in the US before then, too (but I'm not involved with that, although I heard about a wonderful preview it received in LA late last year.)
I was lucky, too. Clare Cooper (who was such an enormous help on the Bach at the Beacon concert) is a close friend now, and wanted to work with me a learn some of the ropes. She's an even better keyboard performer than am I, and sings very well, too. Her help during the composing of the music was invaluable. Two other fine musicians contributed to the project. They were Matthew Davidson, who started this very web page you are looking at, and has become a good friend quite aside from that. He also is a fine singer, witness his own first release, the haunting, very powerful, and beautiful (no kidding) suite, Blue Forest Mass.
The other musician was Manya (one word,) who I've known for most of my life (her mom was my mom's best friend.) She's the one with an amazing Yma Sumac voice and range who I refer to in a prior note about the film. Amazing vocal chops! The three of them beautifully vocalized themes I'd written for the film, and also contributed some additional disciplined vocal samples to my home-built library (I prefer assembling my own sounds, or adapting extensively from other sources. Makes them fit one's own approach far better than using generic "store bought" samples, and programs.)
As the final mixes were being completed, at the start of June, the constant tension and 12-14 hour/day, 7 d/wk schedule took its toll. I got sicker than I've been in decades. Bed ridden for over three weeks, long enough to lose the ability to walk more than a few feet at a time. But you do recover, given time and care, as I did by the middle of July. And that's when I met the president of East Side Digital.

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LeafII - ESD

Early in July, I got a message from Rob Simonds, the president of East Side Digital. Through a few links and "little flies on the wall", he had learned that I was looking for a small label to put out my albums, including the past albums that had recently reverted to me. As he was going to be in NYC, we all met together here. It looked to be an ideal arrangement.
I was tickled to have at least found a good home for my music. Don't have the patience to deal with a huge company any longer, where no one seems to have any final word, and passing the buck is the main concern, certainly not music. Right away we had to consider the Xmas Season -- whatever was going to be available then had better get underway immediately. Since ESD is small, there is not a large staff to do the jobs. Most of the work fell onto Drew Miller, a fine bassist who also handles a lot of preproduction for ESD. His was the scheduling and assembling of the books, the other graphics, the Enhanced-CD files (even those based on my web site had to be tediously reworked and converted through a lot of steps.)
I got the other steps, including the audio mixing, optimizing and mastering. Adaptec's Jam was used for the final Gold Masters, time to learn all about P&Q codes and ISRCs and all that stuff. More unnerving was the printing of the graphic elements. When the first proofs of TH&H arrived, I was appalled. We had slaved for weeks to get everything to look really sharp, clear and dramatic. These proofs were literally "through a glass darkly". Even under a bright quartz halogen light you couldn't make out much.
ESD generously brought in a very expensive color expert to "correct" all my original TIFFs. I sent them images in with all layers uncollapsed, so they could be tweaked individually, using a very accurate calibrated monitor (with a black hood, yet). See where this is going? The "trimmed and optimized" images that were returned to me were simply  a p p a l l i n g - - The flames inside the church on the cover were lime green. The clouds were khaki. The lightning bolts and lettering were deep puce and worse -- one could scarcely guess what the final result might be!
What to do? ESD got me a local NYC place that could reproduce the same settings used by the printer in Minneapolis, starting from the same files. We had to assemble careful test TIFFs, with calibrated hand made step wedges, and samples of each piece of color artwork. We measured test prints, and went around the loop. Here's the scoop for those who try this for yourselves. The world of professional printing does not use digital imaging very wisely. Zero is black. The first 30% of the values up from black are printed as almost black. Then the next 30% or so yield very dark grays. That leaves a remaining at most 40% to define everything else. In audio it's equivalent to setting the first 9 values of 16-bit audio to near silence, and then obtain all that's louder than silence from the remaining 7 steps! I don't get it.
The scheme collapses at the lightest end. There are so few numbers left to go around up there, that you begin to see the steps of quantizing. The last two or three steps go: light gray, lighter gray, (*"plunk"*) white! If you like the appearance of contour lines and strip mining, you're gonna love what happens to your lightest delicate shades. What you can do (and ought do) is to use the same trick performed at the LOW end of digital audio: DITHER. Just add a small amount (2 or 3) of noise in all the highlights of your image (do it BEFORE resetting level, mentioned below.) That helps hide the steps.
But first miscalibrate your monitors to look like an original murky proof, but onscreen. Then try to get the image to look reasonable on such a dark screen. The Photoshop overall levels are readjusted to something like: 5 - 135 - 250. You have to experiment, then examine test prints. Ours finally came out decently. So next time we're prepared! Only the silk-screen TH&H CD face was left uncorrected, as that deadline had expired. Once the graphics were underway, and Drew could finish them up, bless him. I got to the audio transfers. All the stuff that was supposed to be easy up to now was a nightmare. When I got to the music mastering, it all was...
...as smooth as satin. I was amazed by the decent sound of the old masters. The old tape machines needed service, and that took a couple of weeks. The 2-track head for the 4-track 3-M machine had been sitting in its urethane foam case. The head's surface had gotten etched by the chemical decay of the foam -- an unrecognized disaster of the 70's -- so I got to it with some special polishing abrasives, like hand relapping the heads somewhat. Came out well, as a comparison with the alignment tape proved.
Careful hours of tweaking each piece of equipment got the maximum quality into 20-bit sound on my DAW. Then I went at it all gently removing any tiny bumps and ticks that the old gear had introduced but were inaudible until now. Used a tad of low filter when subtle hum existed in a pause between louder sections. It was slow work, but it went without much effort. There was never a need to use any overall denoising or dehissing plug ins. I'd compare before and after versions constantly, and come back later and compare again. Cool. I'm very happy by the resulting sound, and hope you'll be, too.

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LeafIII - The Trojan "Tribute"

No sooner had the final audio masters made it out to the plant, than I anticipated that I'd finally be getting a short vacation that had been getting delayed over and over. Perhaps a drive into New England, see some trees and the surf, and all those things you miss in a big city. It was now early October, but that was okay. Just to get away for more than the six hours I'd been out of my loft all year sounded super...! It was not to be.
An e-mail message arrived from the PR-firm we were using on the new CDs. It was deceptively mild, about "an artist who's a devoted fan and has just done a tribute album". Hmm... that sounded faintly ominous to me. One person's Gorecki Symphony is another's 20 mg of Valium. More to the point, one person's quick roll in the hay, is another's date-rape. After some detective work, a copy of press kit of the "tribute" (with the CD) was obtained. I trembled uncontrollably when I read it. Here was someone obsessed with sex and celebrity in pursuit of his self proclaimed goal of becoming rich and famous. Previously he'd used dead people as the target, er, "recipient of tribute." You cannot slander the dead. This album's target was a living artist; its Trojan Tribute, like the famous horse, was but the illusion of a gift...
Ah yes, for your convenience and safety, I'm going to sweetly push you down these stairs, in tumbling tribute to your artistry. It was rape, pure and simple. Depressingly, in our narcissistic, smirking age, this isn't much of a surprise. I WAS surprised to learn that a tour was about to begin, guess where? In my own backyard -- just blocks from here! (All sing: "Why don't he do it in the road?") In one week, near my home, I was to be made the brunt of a sophomoric fantasy of sexuality run amok, a wink nudge nexus of brain-in-crotch speculations and obsessions. I found myself in tears and hysterics. "This can't be happening. Why pick on me?! Why not ask me first?" Couldn't sleep that night. Nor the next. Couldn't eat. Vacation thoughts were scrubbed aside. Must I just lie back and endure the rape? I called a lawyer.
It's difficult to communicate misery. Some of you won't get it. Think of those older male Senators listening to Anita Hill's brave attempt to explain what Clarence Thomas had done to her. If you are a WASP straight man, your experiences in being the brunt of prejudice are probably limited, and secondhand. It takes empathy of a deeper kind, a respect for what others feel, not what you think they ought feel. It's what sensitivity training and being politically correct are all about. Prejudicial "facts" and labels are not amusing, you better believe it (check my On Prurient Matters page.)
It really hurts, to have been stuck in a Catch-22, suiting another musician. But there's something to be said for trying to defend one's self. Never did that before in my life. I can't say anything specific on the case, except that the law is on our side, and they settled out of court. The other lawyer requested we not discuss the case, so I must be vague, no names. Anything you've heard of the whole debacle is from their side. Kinda hypocritical, insisting I hold my tongue, and then go spread rumors and dissemble, to make me look like a miserable ingrate, and him like a misunderstood saint. I've seen (via a link he had posted on his website!) a slanderous screed from a tabloid, wholly fabricated by his friends. I've never met or seen the guy, served him papers, he didn't show up in court (bad idea), and absurd sums were miscalculated, for example. Junk "news". It has been a singularly dispiriting experience.
It was a relief to get a good result, trying to prevent anyone incurring a lot of unnecessary legal expenses (money was never the issue.) I bear no malice to the other side, truly, but what they did was deplorable, and I simply had to defend my rights, or I'd lose them (a legal reality.) Please think twice before trying to use or abuse a living person, especially when they're not a public figure. The main plea in such cases seems to be: anything goes in the name of art ("art"?) and free expression -- a fiction, of course. You can't attack or slander or cause pain and grief to the innocent bystander in the name of "artistic statements" ("yeah, ya' see we stab a couple of folks in th' audience each night as a creative part of our puhformance, as it's kinda excitin', and uh, shows wuh a violent age we liv'in...!")

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LeafIV - Fade to 1999

I was shocked at how much trauma this perfect stranger had been able to bring about, ruining my plans for October completely, by the time everything was settled. I was now quite wiped, having had not a wit of rest the whole year, and then having to deal with such an emotional assault.
It was now getting into November, but I did get away, slipped out of town. Saw friends upstate, and then in Boston, including Matthew Davidson and his new wife, Julie. Lovely people. But for the first week away I was still so shell-shocked that I couldn't sleep. Just fits and starts for a couple hours at most each night. It took its toll. Seeing Matthew, and then dear John Romkey, and my amusing nephew and a few new friends (like Mike) was the start of my unwinding. I relax best when chatting and punning and being kid-like around close friends who likewise need a break from their mentally demanding tasks. Just what the doctor prescribed.
Got to see my parents for another six days. They were having a lot of problems, as they are quite old, and of course I did my best to help them. Then I took Amtrak back home, and got sick again. Must have picked up a bug during the trip, and I lost another week in bed. Most sickness for me in years -- gleep! Shows the rewards of tension and all work and no play, I guess (so do as I say, not as I do...)

I didn't speak yet about my favorite cuddling pal, Nago. He had so many endearing traits. Even while Clare and I were working on the score in the Spring, I often discovered him reaching up and tapping one of us on the elbow, then sit to wait. And if that didn't work, a very quiet Siamese ululation floated up. He was one of the rare loves one is lucky at times to find in a pet.
Well, his battle with cancer that had begun in the prior Fall ended on the July 22nd. Losing him when he'd not yet reached his expected age, having that awful disease we all fear snatch him away like this, still troubles my mind -- I cannot quite believe he's gone. I'll have pictures and a story up on the photos page soon, as I've done with the other critters, when their time came. I know it sounds soppy, but posting their pix and stories seems to allow a small part of them to remain around, hanging about in CyberSpace, in some weird way.
But 1998 brought a few new members to the clan. In February Pandora (Pandy), a sweet and astonishingly bright Chocolate point, came to live here. In September, Charly-O (O for the constellation, Orion), a rambunctious but good-natured sealpoint, joined her. Finally a new puppy, named Brritannia ("Brr..." for the cold wind in Ithaca -- don't ask) joined us all. She's a Border Terrier. Have you heard of the breed? They're not popular yet, which means the breed has not been ruined. She's very much a pup like old Heather dog, the same personality traits in a lot of wonderful ways, but at about half the size. Charly and Britty LOVE to wrestle with each other -- quite a sight!
And so the year's end finally found me recovered, and able to face updating the web site you are now browsing. I've started to make some sense of the clumsy way it had grown. As I type this there's only the Photo page that needs a lot of work, and the complex Resources page to rebuild. You can read about what is now done on the What's New page.
Must get a move on, for the next batch of remasters awaits me. And yes, dear fans, that is the Switched-On Boxed Set, including at long last (hooray!) The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, and a much improved remastering of the first S-OB, done from the direct-mix premasters, saving at least a couple of tape generations over any version you've heard up to now (neat, huh?) Don't know if the tricky way I'm going to attempt will work out well or not, but I think there's an excellent chance it will. And you'll read all about it way before anyone else does, here at our site.
Please let me send you wishes, that your 1999 contains some neat spots ahead for each of you, and is nothing like last year was for me ;-). Be well, work hard, and here's to some luck and love in the months ahead of us! (*beat*) So what are you staring at? That's enough words for now -- get back to work!

--Wendy Carlos
January 1999

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LeafWendy Secures CD Release Deal!

The big news for regular browsers of this website is that as of July 1998, the final negotiations were underway with ESD (the distribution arm of Ryko disks until recently) for releasing most of the albums (we'll let you know if there's any change) you've been waiting so patiently for. We repeat:

CDs of Wendy Carlos's back catalog, including all new releases, has begun shipping in Fall 1998!


The backlog of masters from CBS/Sony were finally returned to Wendy's studio in May (she said it was a VERY nostalgic moment, to see all those tapes sitting in two big boxes like that...), and these will make up some of the releases on CD, when remastered and subtlely cleaned (where needed) and optimized. Many tracks (despite the return of all the CBS tapes) are being transferred from even earlier generation sources, and we expect the sound to be significantly better than any prior versions you may have heard up until now.
Also included will be the long awaited new album, Tales of Heaven and Hell, that was prematurely announced in these pages last year. Since then the music has been polished with many sections enhanced and somewhat extended. The cover artwork will be very similar to the image that we posted here last year, but with a few changes. For one thing, the longest work has been retitled to: "Clockwork Black", as several people who are religious had been offended by the suggestion of an actual black mass, even if only a dramatic form was being suggested.
Right now Wendy is ensconced in the remasterings for the CDs, and collating and in some cases creating the artwork and liner notes for the new CD covers and other artwork. A lot of work to do quickly (so some planned new postings to this site will have to wait a while longer.) The albums will be released in related groups every six months or so, and essentially all will be out before the end of next year. The initial release of three are (see later news above for the most recent releases):

Tales of Heaven and Hell (the complete project)
Sonic Seasonings (plus three related bonus tracks)
A Clockwork Orange The complete Carlos music score (plus two bonus tracks)

The new CDs also contains several selected CD-Plus files, which you can open with your computer. Release was early October and November '98. Some other albums that have been held up for various reasons (explained in the discography and open letter sections on this site) are also being looked into, for possible CD release as part of this series, too. The new score to Woundings will be part of 1999 releases. We'll let you know (you can bet on it!) the details as soon as we can! We hope the news makes many of you smile -- please spread the good word!

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LeafWendy Finishes Soundtrack for 'Woundings'

In early June Wendy finally completed her soundtrack score to the new British film, 'Woundings'. Ably assisted by Clare Cooper, who had been one of the keyboardists at the Bach at the Beacon concert in April '97, Wendy did a mass of custom sound designs, putting together the 45 minute score using techniques developed during 'Tales of Heaven and Hell'.
The featured program again was Digital Performer, by MotU, which provided both MIDI and digital audio events. These were synchronized to the video with a new Digital TimePiece, also from MotU. The combination provided super quick lock ups, and dependable sync to well within a millisecond.
Some of the score is orchestral in sound, some concrete, some quite 'synthy' in timbre. The film represent a notable change for Carlos, being an antiwar movie, filled with anti-heroes drawn from the disenfranchised young men and women who serve on a remote island in the South Atlantic. The play, by noted SF author, Jeff Noon, was adapted by the director, Roberta Hanley (a business friend of many years), and is set in the near future. It is in the final stages of post production. We'll announce release notices when we learn them.

Carlos had this to say about the project:

" I essentially gave up my life for the duration of the score, starting in January, until it finished. We worked mostly 12-15 hour days, 7 days a week, and had no time to do anything much else. Clare (Cooper) was a "brick" -- without her versatile help this complex score would have suffered greatly, and I'd never have made all the deadlines. Matthew (Davidson) somehow found time to perform some essential vocal cues and f/x that worked in beautifully. A good friend who's got the vocal range of Yma Sumac kindly sang many of my themes onto DAT. This web site, my albums, and all personal stuff were put on hold (that's why nothing new happened here for so long, especially with Matthew involved with his demanding new job at MotU since last Fall -- now you know.)
And then when the pressure was letting up on the final evening of mixing, I got really sick, and was in bed for nearly three weeks. It proves this is not the best way to do things, and that your body will eventually tell you as much, even if you think (as I did) that you are doing just fine. In the end we produced some excellent music merged with interesting creative textures and effects."


Although Carlos had worked on four other film scores in the years since Tron was released, these projects never worked out, as is the case with many films that are begun but fall by the wayside. So she was grateful to have one reach completion again at long last, and welcomed the chance to try out the newest techniques of music scoring and synchronization for a feature film. A soundtrack album is being assembled and will be released eventually. We'll keep you informed about it here. Even if you don't see the movie, you may enjoy this moody and scary music score.

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LeafAnother Total Eclipse

As a smaller piece of news, last February, while in the middle of the early work on the filmscore, Wendy made a last minute dash to Aruba. There she met John Romkey, the "father of the <apocalypse.org> web server" and several other friends, and observed and photographed the event from the Aruba airport, flying back to NYC an hour later(!).

A complete report was filed on Fred Espenak's excellent NASA Eclipse web site in March, and two beautiful images were posted there (take a look). These have been added to this site's Eclipse Page. Also, most of the images on our eclipse page have been optimized and updated and new, much better versions will be added there shortly. Coronaphiles take note, and come back again soon...


LeafNew Domain Name

This site got a new domain at the beginning of 1998, thanks to John Romkey's diligence and effort. So now we are, as you may already have noted,


The former url will still operate correctly as before, although the location window in your browser will be altered to reflect the newer url (tricky custom CGI stuff). So tell your friends, and bookmark our easier to type and remember new address.
The only thing lost is that the counter, which had been working for about a year, became inaccurate with the double url addresses, and would not count hits correctly for months (so all the stats pages since December '97 are wrong, too.) Unless a way can be found to make it work accurately, it has been removed from our index page, a shame since so many sites do have counters that seem to work. The similarly affected Stats page is also no more, the Web Master for this server having halted that back in May of '98 (I hadn't even had the time to discover this until now.) Not a big deal, but that's the story.

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hear ye


LeafWendy Composes Soundtrack for 'Woundings'

Recently Wendy has been very busy composing the soundtrack to the English film 'Woundings'. In a short amount of time, Wendy has realized an astounding amount of new music, encompassing a broad spectrum of emotions. The sharp-eared out there will also recognize a bit of Wendy's older work as well mixed in. 'Woundings' is based on the stage play by Jeff Noon. It is currently (June 1998) in post production - no word yet on release dates for England or the U.S.

tiny trumptiny trump

LeafPiano Performance Premiere

Wendy's Ravelled Threads received its first complete performance ever in Pasadena CA on November 18, 1997 by Gloria Cheng-Cochran (who performed the first Synthesizer part at the Bach at the Beacon Concert, described below.) It was performed as part of a novel west coast piano music recital series, Piano Spheres.

Piano ArtGloria ChengPiano Art

Ms. Cheng-Cochran also performed works that evening by William Kraft, Andrew Waggoner, Chinary Ung, and John Adams. "Ravelled Threads" was composed over an unusually long period of time, beginning in 1975, through 1994. Asked to describe the work, Carlos replied:

In many ways the composer who held the most "magic" for me as a student was Maurice Ravel. He was instinctively a "colorist", which led to his sublime mastery of orchestration. My fascination with timbre naturally led me into the newest media: synthesizers and computer music. But the skills and technique are for me the same: the inner ear guides, and the trick is to find the most effective way to translate this inner world of sound into the external acoustic world.
I found it remarkable that many of Ravel's most famous orchestra works were composed originally as piano solos. Later, after months or years, they were orchestrated and "recomposed" for the symphonic palette. This seemed an interesting way to learn more about composing and scoring, so I decided to try it for myself. The piano solo, "Ravelled Threads" is the first stage. It is truly more of an homage to Ravel, a composer's way of saying "thank you" to someone who inspired, excited and led the way. (As I normally am not so interested in writing for a single timbre, like the piano, it was also an excellent excuse to learn how to do so effectively anyway!)
There are five movements, each developed rather along the lines of Ravel's piano masterworks. I tried only to capture (as well as I could) some of the "flavor" and "feeling" of the existing models, but worked-out in my own admittedly chameleon-like personal language. I wanted to emulate, but never actually copy, what he had done so well. There are examples of waltzes, not all that alien to Ravel's "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales", passages with rapid figurations that float around a slower melody, not so removed from "Le Tombeau de Couperin", and colorful interplay between lines as he does with such subtlety in "Rapsodie Espagnole" and "Ma Mere l'Oye".
You will hear sections that are quite "orchestral" in their effect(as in truth, a great deal of good piano music always has been.) My goal was eventually to return to these pieces, add a couple of surrounding movements (I have detailed sketches for these), and rethink it into an idiomatic orchestral work. Many other projects have since intervened, and if the occasion does not ever arise, perhaps I will instead adapt it to an electronic realization. Better still, given an opportunity, why not do both a full orchestral version, and one for the newest media? Best of all worlds...
In the end, though, I composed "Ravelled Threads" as (the gentle pun of its title says it) several musical threads woven together (opposed to "unraveled") into an integral, sincere whole. It was meant to stand on its own without the knowledge of the final goal, and is probably my best piano solo to date.

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hear ye

LeafWendy Completes Unusual New CD

--Note of December 28, 1998: This optimistic report was written prematurely. The reality is that the CD finally became contracted by East Side Digital in July of 1998, the cover was modified somewhat and improved graphically from the prototype version we had posted here in 1997, the music was polished to an amazing (that it's possible to get this near to one's goal, that is) fare-thee-well and then carefully mastered and optimized, and that CD became available in October of 1998. Read more about it here. And now, let us return to those glorious days of yesteryear, when I rattled along with the following observations and some less than prescient guesses:

Tales of Heaven & Hell has now entered the mastering stage. The centerpiece of TH&H is "Clockwork Black", an extension of the themes Wendy explored in A Clockwork Orange. Of notable interest is Wendy's use of the Circon. Not since 1986's Beauty in the Beast has Wendy released a CD of all original compositions and Tales of Heaven & Hell is certainly worth the wait. This is the first Wendy Carlos CD to feature her own cover artwork (shown above - compare it with the original CO cover...). No official release date is set.

--Added by Wendy: March 14, 1997

About the new album. Let's see, it had its origins back nearly three years ago, has experienced the longest gestation period of any album I've been involved with to date. Nearly all of the delays are purely technical. I'm also having some trouble with my eyes (corneas), and the medical "help" I've found so far has been worthless and worse. Long story, too emotional now, for another time. With crashing equipment and blurry vision, the project has taken way past what it ought, I'm sorry to say.
Thanks to a very generous gift of some essential alternate equipment from my friends at Apocalypse and my nephew, I've gotten a moderately stable system right now. With luck I managed to get the music completed, and on time to consider the delayed Bach thing, too. But the record is where my heart now obviously is, as much of a divertimento as the April Concert may be. I think TH&H is among the best stuff I've done, something quite different, yet growing from my earlier deepest and hopefully meaningful work. (So those of you who want only my earliest forays in musicdom will probably want to pass...)
I drew the cover for the album back in December (using pencils and Photoshop), when the new equipment was going through its own rough shakedown (can't seem to avoid it!) This is the first time I got an opportunity to design my own album cover. The title really say it all, gives you a good idea about the sounds and music on the album (a very fat CD for all new music: about 61 minutes...) As you will see, it's a deliberate takeoff of the cover to A Clockwork Orange, since the featured piece, "Clockwork Black", is similarly an echo of my earlier music for Kubrick's famous film. I made a clean sharp jpeg of the cover and gave it to Matthew, who posted it here on the site (along with a mini view) for you.
The negotiations for what company will get the album are once again very complicated. Several labels want it, but our contacts with some of them have grown needlessly complicated. A techno version is also promised, of all things (!), but I will not be too involved with it, if it does get produced. I wish I could be more definite, and will be as soon as we know the details ourselves. Signs of our times, though, that the business steps are often much slower moving than they ever were in the past... (*sigh*)
So thus far 1997 has been an amazingly productive period for me. And now, of course, I can't wait for all of you (who are interested) to hear the new music. Some of it, I promise you, is really scary, deep dark moody tone-painting. But there are also brighter rainbows to contrast with these, in true yin-yang style. I don't recommend it for children or impressionable people, especially when played alone, or in the dark...

--Added: July 20, 1997

Finally we are having meetings with several companies about a potential release for TH&H and perhaps some or all of the back catalog. Another idea that sounds quite exciting, (this one I must credit to Matthew Davidson, the selfsame original creator of this site!) is that with so many of my back masters originally produced in four channel stereo sound, the latest DVD with Dolby Digital(TM) technologies might allow us to release true multichannel discrete alternate versions, for the first time ever (it's only taken 25+ years...)! Imagine hearing the original Sonic Seasonings, surrounding you in clean digital remastered versions from the original first generation Dolby multitrack tapes. I know, I know, neat stuff, but we shall see...
The meetings are but a first step, as many of you understand, so we will keep all of you who are interested informed about what happens next, right here on this web page. (Just talk at the moment, but one label is also considering making contact with Disney, to see about negotiations of a CD release to my music for Tron (!) Now wouldn't that be neat? - crossings of many fingers, puh-leeze!) Thanks especially to those who have written with notes of encouragement and concern and nifty ideas.

--Added: November 30, 1997

Sorry to report that the logjam remains in place as of this addendum. A few companies turned out to have whacko ideas of what constituted a new release. For example: we were given the incredible pitch by a certain well-known NE firm that if we allowed them to re-release just the original S-OB for yet one more time (!), not even any other titles with an increasingly built-up demand from my back catalog, it would soon generate a market for a few of the other catalog albums. And this wave eventually would allow "Tales of Heaven & Hell" to be released, too! Perhaps even within a few years! Incredibly snotty jive. (Are you surprised? I must admit, this time I was...)
Perhaps it's true that there aren't many honest and enterprising record companies left in the biz. But I don't believe it. Human nature doesn't devolve that fast. A couple of other connections just petered out as we were told that business was so bad they were hesitant to release anything new, except (quite candidly) the most obvious rock cliches sigh.) So, what can I tell you, we're still lookin'! (And if you value your own success, I guess, keep them cliches coming. ;-)

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LeafWendy Carlos in Live Synthesizer Concert

For the first time ever, Wendy Carlos gave a concert performance live on stage, not just a demo lecture, as she has done several times in the past. The event was the weekend-long Bach at the Beacon festival. Wendy performed selections from her Switched On Bach albums accompanied by a small group of musicians playing Kurzweil synthesizers, called the Kurzweil Baroque Ensemble.
Bach at the Beacon, took place Saturday evening, April 5th, 1997 at the Beacon Theater in New York City. notes by Wendy written before the concert, plus comments from right afterwards are included below. Also a more recent collection of photos and a final note conclude the news report.


LeafFour sets of Comments by Wendy Carlos-

--Added: March 14, 1997

There were two items starting this Winter that I thought would never happen: one was the proposal to do a Live Switched-On Bach type concert this Spring, the other was to finish the @#$%&* album that was taking me quasi-decades (subjective time) to get completed. Unless I'm suffering some sort of weird hallucination right now, both of these seem to be happening...!
The usual way these things take place, concert preparations did not move as I had originally asked for. My initial request was to get contracts and personnel settled by early January, so we would have a full three months to assemble the equipment, sounds, patches, visuals, and have time to work out musical arrangements, print out parts, learn and rehearse them fully. Three months was realistic for a lotta work.
Instead, by the start of March, I still had no contract, and barely a lick of preparations had been done. Yet within a week, the proverbial "fur began to fly". Since I did not want to be a part of any less than a fine job, I'd already begun telling everyone that we'd put this off until the Fall or next Spring, when we would be able to do it right. And here I am now, being persuaded that with a gigantic last minute push, we are going to get thing ready for the April 5th concert after all.
That this change has happened, I must credit the team we've assembled. Without them I promise you the whole thing would be still on "hold". Let me give these fearless musicians and synth experts their proper respect by including their names right here (alphabetically):

Gloria Cheng-Cochran
Clare Cooper
Matthew Davidson
Larry Fast
Chris Martirano
Mayumi Reinhard
Jordan Rudess
And yours truly.

Yes, Larry is the very well known super-synthesist most of you know of, Gloria the brilliant young concert pianist who's star is in ascent; Chris and Jordan are familiar faces from Kurzweil's many jaw-dropping musical demos (fast fingers, both!) at AES and NAMM shows and the like, and Matthew is the composer (his new Blue Forest Mass is very special...) who started these very web pages on me you are now reading.
Clare is a splendid NYC synthesist and stage/studio musician who also is very Mac and Finale-wise, and Mayumi a first rate composer of microtonal and traditional instrumental and electronic music. When they all agreed to partake in this, I could only gasp: "What a team!" I doubt if a better one could be assembled anywhere. (I'm particularly lucky in that all are now friends!)
The idea of performing some of the old Bach classics this way is an old one for me, one I'd abandoned years ago. The technology was not up to the task (not the way I wanted to do it -- a few braver-than-wise souls tried it in the early '70's...), and finding the right musicians would be a major task, probably requiring special coaching and instruction. No more. With the help of Young-Chang Kurzweil for the powerful K2000/2500 instruments they are providing for all of us, the "hardware" question became solved admirably. I've been using these same devices on my latest work, and they are the source of most of the sounds on the new album.
The rest of the job falls on this great team. (Apologies if this all is starting to sound like a proverbial "mutual admiration society", but I'm honestly "jazzed" by the prowess of our group!) Right now we're cobbling together arrangements and sounds and all the other steps, trying to fit in adequate rehearsals as well. So for the first time, I'm begrudgingly agreeing that the thing may indeed take place as originally scheduled by Ettore Stratta, a good friend of many years, and who along with Pat Phillips is the organizer of the concert. (Ettore will also conduct the larger pieces.) I also promise a "sneak preview" that evening.
For those of you who have often pestered me to do some live concerts, this will at least satisfy that concept, although I had nothing to do with coming up with the idea this time -- Ettore came to me with the plan already firmly set up. Since I have been working feverishly on Tales of Heaven & Hell for the last many months, doing Bach's music once more was the last thing I wanted to think about. It's only since I got that mammoth project done two weeks ago (as I write this) that I can even consider the Bach at the Beacon seriously. If you can make it here to NYC, we'll enjoy seeing you. If not, perhaps we will be able to go into "plan B', and take the show on the road, including some original music (of course!) as well as the old S-OB chestnuts. There's a LOT more to be added, but I must get back to work!

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--Added: April 6, 1997

Our performance live at the Bach festival has just finished as I write this. It's with many mixed emotions, and they are still warm, that I try to put thought to paper (make that Web site!) The most important is that our ensemble did itself proud. No kidding, this was the ultimate group to attempt what only a short time ago would have been impossible, impossible (unless you were longer on hype than on quality.)
Our group certainly looked spiffy, all with white shirts or blouses, and black pants, and red scarfs, each tied in an individual way. Good balance between the formal and relaxed. Many good friends showed up, too. I was sorry that someone had forbidden them and the other fans from coming up to meet with us in the dressing room area as it always used to be done. I thank them all for their support and enthusiasm. It was honestly touching.
Clare Cooper got the evolving mass of custom scores, arrangements and parts for us done rapidly and with visual panache. And despite the harrowing changes, and some problems with an unstable beta version of Finale, she remained agreeable and intelligent and ever helpful throughout the ordeal. The final stack measured, no kidding, about four inches tall, this for about 26 minutes of music! It was a pleasure to perform from such lucid, professional parts.
The gigantic list of sounds were expertly pounded out by Chris Martirano, in several marathon sessions. He worked his tail off, with Jordan Rudess's help, to make more than what we needed, aurally "rotoscoping" the sounds from my master multitrack tapes. He was very gracious as I then had the more enjoyable task of going in and tweaking many of his sounds to get them more to my idiosyncratic ideals. Wonderful to work from such subtle, musical models. We were touching up sounds right up to the day before the concert, trying to get the best we could out of each one. I thought it would take three months minimum. Chris did it in three WEEKS. A four to one ratio ain't bad, is it?!
Larry Fast's experience with many on stage concerts was invaluable at so many junctures, with knotty MIDI and audio routing and the logic of how to get what data from here to there under certain conditions, and those only... very complicated, and he made it look easy. He also put together a setup to do a global change of tunings and base key, one per piece, so we could play in Bach's favorite, non-equal tempered, tunings, as I'd done on S-OB 2000.
Matthew Davidson put together a visual light show using a new version of the lovely program, Bliss Paint, and did it all on his own. I watched tasty, and beautiful abstracts that were synched exactly to our MIDI outputs. His was the only computer on stage, as the music was all performed live. He worked with Larry on the tech aspects, too. Really pro, and so easy to work with, as was everyone else.
I don't forget the particularly facile "chops" of the other musicians, who were our secret weapon (Gloria and Jordan especially) to play some of this intricate stuff at speed. Even the elaborate "hocketing" I devised for the solo in the Sinfonia in D was cleanly played. Gloria, Jordan, and Mayumi with Chris and Clare just were right there, no hassles, doing the damnedest stuff.
We all played very well, and the audience seemed very happy. The sound system crew got us a great sound system, not too loud, not too anything, very flat and smooth and alive. A big help, and I'm grateful to them all.
But I left it all with a bad taste in my mouth. We were promised 40 to 45 minutes of time, no sweat, even a bit of run over if needed. In fact, the other acts started late and ran very long, over and hour each, and so going on last we had less than a half hour before we were booted off. We had to leave off two well rehearsed pieces completely, and my "sneak preview" of music specially edited and prepared from the new album was completely cut. So it became only old stuff, not one iota of new things, or what my music is really all about, cliche cliche... Ettore, who was our able conductor of many of the pieces, had to give us a particularly brisk tempo to get through the final movement of the 3rd Brandenburg, so we could at least finish that. Somehow we played it cleanly even at that tempo.
Then it was a very abbreviated curtain call for all of us, and the "23-skidoo" and we were out of there. Had we known what was going to happen, I wonder if we'd have even tried to go on at all. My final emotion was deep hurtful anger, knowing that a major chunk of the audience had been given only 70% of what what was prepared intended, and even that got rushed.
I know my explanations ate up some of that time. If we'd been told at the start, I'd have cut them shorter. But it was only when we'd gotten halfway through that we simply were told to cut it, and then just jump to the ending. Shabby way to treat our group after this labor of love (we were paid very, very little, after all) that had been all-consuming for the whole last three and a half weeks.
Later I'd learned that even though we had all given our permission, and followed all the rules, my friends had been stopped from taking a few snapshots or video of the event. One friend had a huge fight with one absurd individual who had no right to stop her taking a home video for my parents. They are in their 90's, and could not attend the concert. So the only way they could see it was vicariously with a videotape. As all of us had agreed gladly, and the house rules said it was okay if taken not from the stage itself, this was but another painful outrage and gratuitous insult.
Yes, I know right now I'm still pissed and a bit bitter. So I can tell any of you who now read this, but could not attend, please don't feel like you missed some sort of "great event". It was not. It might have been, but you did not miss the "good one". We are now still talking about doing more. If some way can be found to do it without losing scads of money as most classical acts do nowadays, perhaps even coming out a little in the black, it would allow for a wonderful experience. But the realities do look like they are stacked very much against us. Any suggestions?
Afterwards, we all had a quiet "post mortem" in a nearby restaurant. I was happy to see many of our friends, like my cousin and her husband, my nephew, most of the musicians, and John Romkey, the genius programmer, and meet new ones, like many who are also part of John's apocalypse crew that maintains this web site. A decent, special group of people. It took down a few notches the frustrations I'd felt, and I'm grateful to them all.
Right now I'm going to let these "all hang out" series of initial impressions go out on the web. Try to encourage others to speak out honestly and forthrightly about the Arts in America, if that's not already become an oxymoron, thanks to the morons who hate or are frightened by the arts. There are many of those, alas. But I intended this only as one artist's impressions of one mixed-experience event. I'm new to this game, and may be overreacting here. For now I'm going to post this on apocalypse, and set the clocks to lose and hour, and go to bed. Thanks for reading this...

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--Added: April 16, 1997

Since writing the above, over a week has passed. The sun seems to rise each morning, and Spring with it's occasional allergies has definitely arrived (just ask my head!). The world is going on just fine. And so am I. By now I have gotten so many positive comments about our performance, that I realize that even with the audience getting shorted, they were largely pleased by our 31 minutes. You seldom miss what you were never shown, after all.
I've since learned that the Sunday portion of the Bach at the Beacon festival was canceled, and that some of the acts from that day were moved onto our Saturday, packing it further. The organizers are definitely too nice and trusting to play "bad cop" very well. And a "good cop" was not enough to get the expansive early acts to be less greedy. Is this a hint for them to hire a really mean character for next time, perhaps? Somebody no one would dare to mess with?
The main hurt I now feel is simply that we were not told about the 11 PM cut off when we began, as I'd have definitely made my chatter very much shorter, to allow another piece to get played. Not knowing the realities put us on the spot unfairly, when the "hurry ups" were suddenly being whispered at me when we'd just begun.
It really is easier to live with someone else being unfair to you, than the reverse. For me it is, anyway. Certainly nothing about this was deliberate. So I think we can get over our disappointments, as they were in no way caused by the eight of us. I'm still amazed that this monstrously complex technical setup we needed had not the slightest hitch or glitch. Very, very smooth. Our sound was very good, over a decent system, so the audience could appreciate the quality of the sounds and performances.
But I was very much saddened to hear that even with a pretty packed house, the festival went into the red somewhat. Part of this was the cancellation fees from the Sunday afternoon performances. It's a tough, risky business, as many of you know, but with good word of mouth, perhaps next year's festival will be even better attended, and balance off this initial venture/adventure. Ettore and Pat are dear, wonderful people who put a great effort behind Bach at the Beacon, and it would be truly unfair if everything just ended here. We all learned a lot.
I wish I'd known to take a photo of the theater's marquee, as friends told me my name was in "big letters on Broadway"! (Never got a chance to look as we came in from a side street stage entrance that night.) It was upper Broadway -- not midtown -- to be sure, but my parents would still have gotten a kick out of it. Gloria Cheng-Cochran's husband, Connor, said he may have gotten a shot of it, so eventually I can post it on this site. We did get a few snapshots of other portions, despite the prickly union rules, and those I definitely will scan and place here soon. (These follow in the next description below.)

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 --And finally, added: May 21, 1997

Beacon Theater Marquee

LeafPhotos from Bach at the Beacon Concert

Finally I've got some photos here to show you (click any for bigger view). Above is a shot Clare Cooper took of the Beacon Theater's marquee that afternoon before the concert. She used one of those wide-angle cameras for this and the image below.

Group Shot

Here's a group shot of us, right after the performance ended, and we were getting ready to leave. Clare had Connor Freff Cochran (Gloria's husband, and writer for several impontant music magazines) use her WA camera take this of us (L to R):

Chris, Ettore, Wendy, Jordan, Gloria, Matthew, Clare, Mayumi (with coat on -- it was cool in the dressing rooms!) and Larry (already changed for travel)
On stage

One thoughtful friend grabbed this shot of us on stage, as the performance ended, and we were taking our bows, including the other acts of the evening. From another decent videotape a good friend of Larry's had kindly "sneaked" just for us, I learned that we had actually been given about five more minutes than the 31 minutes I had initially calculated. It turned out my camcorder's internal clock was five minutes fast, thus the error. The real number was closer to 36 minutes, still shorter than promised, but less so than my initial impression above states. I'm glad to have this chance to set the record straight.

Our Ensemble

And here I've stitched together two shots another friend present that evening took of us, right after the performance. This will give you a good idea of the semicircular positions we were in, on risers (actually: 2 + 4 + 2), which were Larry's idea, to allow us to roll out into position quickly, with no wires to attach last-minute. The eight of us, L to R: Gloria, Jordan, Chris, Wendy, Clare, Larry, Mayumi, and Matthew (overexposed here). Ettore was out of view, the conductor's spot being in front of us, to the left of this image.

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