The stage is bare. Ostertag stands alone holding just a common gamepad typically used for computer games. There is no computer screen, no keyboard or DJ station, no other electronic gear, no table or chair. His eyes are closed. The music starts. The contrast between the calm he projects with his presence, and the earthquake of sound he produces, gives the performance a peculiar edge.
Ostertag performed and recorded extensively with Buchla and Serge modular synthesizers in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2011 he returned to modular synthesizers with an entire CD of work with a Buchla synth provided him by his close friend, synthesizer pioneer Don Buchla. His current work builds on these experiences, but now uses an interface of his own design which allows him to improvise with modular synthesis in a manner far more sophisticated and improvisational than was previously possible.
With all the interest in modular synthesis in recent years, these concerts are an opportunity for young people to hear the exciting new direction this accomplished master has taken the instrument.
Since nearly all young people have used gamepads to play computer games, this is an electronic music concert in which the physical “performance” is more comprehensible than is often the case with electronic instruments.
Like the Buchla synthesizers of the 1970s, Ostertag’s current instrument is created for quadraphonic sound. The concert also works well with a stereo system, but in quadraphonic the audience will experience a unique, almost tactile connection to the sound.