© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Alarm Will Sound Remembers The Year 1969

In the late 1990’s Eastman School of Music students Gavin Chuck and Alan Pierson saw the need for a top notch ensemble to perform their compositions and other contemporary music.  They set to work and formed the student ensemble Ossia.  One of their more notable concerts was one in 1999 that featured music by Steve Reich which the composer attended. After the concert, Reich expressed to the group his desire for an American new music ensemble that would be equivalent to England’s London Sinfonietta or Germany’s Ensemble Modern. That is all the impetus the group needed to create a twenty  member ensemble which was named Alarm Will Sound. Gavin became the ensemble’s Managing Director and Pierson the Conductor and Artistic Director.

A dozen years later, Alarm Will Sound has received critical acclaim including the New York Times accolades as “the future of classical music” and “the very model of a modern music chamber band.”  Based in New York, Alarm Will Sound has also started a St. Louis series as an outgrowth of  the ensembles’ participation in the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation’s Mizzou International Composers Festival. The ensemble presents the third concert of that season on April 26 at the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Touhill Performing Arts Center.

The Touhill program is Alarm Will Sound’s multimedia portrayal of the year 1969.  The program was inspired by an imagined meeting between the Beatles and the German avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.  In addition to drawing on music by the Beatles and Stockhausen, 1969 features selections from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, Luciano Berio’s opera Traces as well as original music by University of Missouri composition and theory professor Stefan Freund. 

In addition to music, 1969 includes spoken word and multimedia elements including three on-stage screens displaying still photos and video of events such as civil rights protests, riots, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.  

Alan Pierson was Steve Potter’s guest on Cityscape to discuss the background of Alarm Will Sound and the work 1969.

Related Event

Alarm Will Sound Presents "1969"
Friday, April 26, 2013
8:00 p.m. (Pre-concert lecture at 7:10 p.m.)
UMSL's Touhill Performing Arts Center
(314) 516-4949

Touhill Performing Arts Center Website

Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.