Musical pioneers in Princeton:
By Anthony Stoeckert
Don Slepian and Stuart Diamond have been part of the electronic music scene since the very beginning.
”I hate to put it this way, but Don and I are some of the golden oldies of electronic music,” Mr. Diamond said. “Both of us were creating our own ensembles and performing live back in the 1970s. Now we can look back and say, ‘We really were the some of first people doing this.”
Mr. Diamond has performed at such venues as the Guggenheim Museum, Carnegie Recital Hall, and Federal Hall. He’s also performed during Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show. As a composer of electronic and contemporary classical music, he has been praised in “The New York Times,” “Variety,” and “The Christian Science Monitor.”
Mr. Slepian’s start with electronic music dates back to the ‘60s, when his father worked as a mathematician for Bell Laboratories, the science and engineering research center in Murray Hill, NJ.. One day, Mr. Slepian’s father brought home a record called “Music From Mathematics.” The record featured music composed by mathematics and created via computers using punch cards. Some of the music resembles sound effects heard on ‘80s-era video games.
”I fell in love with it and played it endlessly and decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life,” Mr. Slepian said.
He started by designing electronic instruments, and helped build the first Bell Labs analog synthesizer in 1971. He also taught electronic music and computer programming at the University in Hawaii.
He also was a synthesizer soloist with the Honolulu Symphony and has performed in New York, Paris, Japan and Thailand. As a composer, Mr. Slepian was the artist in residence in the Acoustics & Behavioral Research Center at Bell Telephones Laboratories. His works “Sea of Bliss” and “Sonic Perfume” have been heard through the National Public Radio show, “Music From The Hearts of Space.”
Mr. Diamond played bassoon before he started playing the Lyricon, an electronic wind instrument.
”I never played bassoon again... I like to say that overnight I went from being a semi-professional bassoonist, to the world’s greatest classical Lyricon player, albeit the world’s only classical Lyricon player,” Mr. Diamond says.
More seriously, he said he and Mr. Slepian helped to create a demand for electronic music. Since the 1980s, the two musicians have been performing together in the group Electric Diamond, which will perform a free concert at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Paul Robeson Center, July 30, beginning at 2 p.m. The concert will feature a video element by Brian Van Korn, and Mr. Diamond and Mr. Slepian will be joined by Theremin player Kip Rosser for the latter part of the concert.