Erik Friedlander's American Power Suite

"American Power Suite"

I. with speed [electricity] 3:48
II. flowing, grand [water] 4:01
III. freely, with forward motion [solar] 3:57
IV. steady, solemn [crude] 5:27
V. lurching, unstable [fission] 2:16
VI. elegy [decision] 4:00

"Mitch Epstein and I met at at a coffee joint in lower Manhattan one Spring morning of 2011. We talked about his his book, "American Power." Mitch was accepting a prize for the collection and wanted to to mark the occasion with a special presentation that might include music. He suggested I take a look at the book and see if the images kindled any musical ideas. In some photos the grandeur of the structures needed to harness energy from raw materials triggered memories of my little boy's fascination for big machines. In others, the stark effects of accommodating the power industry in one's neighborhood were evident and sobering. I didn't feel these stories needed retelling, however, or craved a score. I was led instead to the source, the power itself: electrical power, hydraulic, solar and nuclear power -- the pace, the heat, the flow as I imagined it, drove my composing and created the backbone for the suite.

I wrote technically challenging music -- fast tempi and tricky hand positions -- and in the weeks leading up to the first live performance I realized that the music was quicker to write, than it was to learn how to play! Mitch and I presented a collaboration of picture and music at Les Rencontres d'Arles in June of 2011, and the experience was instructive. Working with the photos in this live situation taught me how to pace the music and where to place improvisation -- crucial information I relied on in recording the pieces for this special project.

In September 2011, I went into the studio to record the compositions originally performed in Arles. The American Power LP is a suite of those six compositions, pressed on 180 gram audiophile vinyl. This limited edition of 500 hand-numbered albums features gatefold artwork by Mitch Epstein as well as a two-sided, 24x36 inch poster that includes Mitch's photographs from the presentation, as well as portions of my handwritten score, and a free digital download of the music." - Erik Friedlander

More information and access to the album can be found at

Thanks to Maria Scherer Wilson for the heads up with this piece!