Minimal at Liminal: Liminal fills its new space with a little show

Willamette Week, February 21, 2003

By David Stabler

Liminal, the Portland performance art ensemble that sold out Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht’s “The Seven Deadly Sins” last year, recently found a home in Chinatown and is putting on a concert.

The performance, “minimal at liminal,” will inaugurate the new space with classic early minimalism by Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Steve Reich and La Monte Young.

Works include John Cage’s notorious “4′33″,” a piece that’s so minimal, the performer sits silently for four minutes and 33 seconds while the audience takes in the ambient noises. Young’s “Composition No. 7” consists of a two-note chord “to be held a very long time.” In a previous performance, stones were placed on the pedals of an organ and left there for a week.

Riley’s “In C” set San Francisco on its ear in 1965 with a slowly evolving pattern of 53 simple note patterns that the performers must play in exact order, but at their own speed. The fragments overlap, but the underlying harmony never moves away from C Major.


Reich’s “Pendulum Music” from 1968 offers electronic feedback as music. The performers swing microphones in front of amplifiers to produce a series of feedback pulses.

Glass is represented by “One + One,” also from 1968, which calls for a performer to tap repeated rhythmic cells on an amplified tabletop in an arithmetic progression.

Performers include Liminal’s sound director, John Berendzen, and a dozen Portland musicians, including composer/performer Michael Stirling, bassist Jonas Tauber, saxophonist John Gross, Boca Marimba’s mark Burdon and bass clarinetist Chad Hensel.

8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 403 N.W. Fifth Ave. (at Flanders), $15 general, $12 students; 503-890-2993 or