Bowling Bells

for 15-30 kitchen bowls and 4-channel playback

premiered May 2002

Bowling Belles: Cynthia Fogg, Alexandra.Thompson, Allison Ellsworth, Emily Petrick, Elizabeth Siegel, Catherine John.

Bowling Beaus: Wayne Steinmetz, Pete Steele, Steve Young, Greg Jackson, Andre Elias, Sam Belcher, Daniel Tankersley, Bill Alves, Tom Flaherty.

“The program drew a large if not full house; the sounds were handsome. (I would extend that accolade even to Tom Flaherty's antic Bowling Bells, which used a surrogate "gamelan" of kitchen bowls of various sizes and states of emptiness, played with a variety of implements including combs, toothbrushes and you-name-it.)”
– Alan Rich, L. A. Weekly

Bowling Bells is an excuse to listen carefully to a few everyday sounds, and to celebrate their extraordinary beauty. Central to the piece are two stainless steel bowls which have served hundreds of pounds of salad to our many guests over the years. I have always marveled at the rich sonority that each produces with the slightest encouragement. They are nearly perfectly tuned a minor third apart (though with everyday use that perfection does vary from dent to dent,) and they signal major points of arrival in the piece.

The four channel playback is of digital retunings of the metal bowls, yielding 15 equally spaced pitches within the minor third. The 16 glass bowls used in the premiere have served hundreds of gallons of soup to many guests over the years, and have a range or nearly a minor third also, with many pitches in between.

Performers sound the bowls with various implements found in most homes: toothbushes, marbles, combs, trickling water, and fingers.

February 2009 performance

Bowling Belles: Brianna Balke, Mary Buchner, Liz Carnathan, Megan Dick, Cynthia Fogg, Paula Goldsmid, Kathy Lawrence, Rebecca Lent, Kelly Park, Genevieve Peaslee, Jordan Pedraza, Sayuri Soejima, Leah Wald

Bowling Beaus: William Chen, Anders Crabo, John Cvitkovic, Josh Durgin, Tom Flaherty, Colin Flynn, Chris Gomes, Christian Heath, Nick Humphrey, Scott Jespersen, Yoon-Chan Kim, Jereen Kwong, Samuel Lewis, Luke Lindemann, Brendon Randall-Myers, Lucy Shelton, Wayne Steinmetz, Tim Stutz, Zeben Kopchak