This piece for solo Oboe was written specifically for virtuoso double reed player Joe Celli in 1991. It was premiered at Experimental Intermedia in New York.  The piece consists of 50 discrete musical fragments that the performer moves through in an improvisational manner.  (See the performance note below for a more detailed description of how the piece works.)

One interesting anecdote regarding the premier:  Both Spalding Gray and Ornette Coleman were present in the audience, in the small Experimental Intermedia performance space. 

photo by Mike Olson

photo by Mike Olson

Closeup of some of the score elements.


The New York Times – Tuesday, December 24, 1991 - performance at Experimental Intermedia

A persistent source of fascination for today's avant-garde (if such it can be called) is music's hardware. Instruments become ends in themselves: the organizing of sound to convey states of consciousness, moods, emotions or particular sonic design is lowered to a relatively minor subheading on the compositorial agenda. 

Thus most of Joseph Celli's program on Friday night, called "Videoears Musiceyes, "seemed more a presentation that a musical event. Mike Olson's "Channels" was a stretching exercise for the solo oboe: multi-phonics (blowing harmony from a single mouthpiece), instrumental shrieks and grunts, and a little stamping of feet, in short an abridged dictionary of things the oboe can do but has not been asked to in the past.