Emerson and Norlander Team Up For Moog Foundation 2009

By Lorraine Kay

The Bob Moog Foundation has partnered with the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA to present “Waves of Inspiration. The Legacy of Moog.” The exhibit, which runs from August 29, 2009 – April 30,2010, examines Bob Moog’s work and its impact on the world of music. It opened with a special weekend of programming featuring an “intimate musical performance” with Keith Emerson playing a short set on his infamous Monster Moog modular synthesizer and some other Moog synths and Erik Norlander, of Asia and Rocket Scientists, playing as  well.  The weekend events also included intimate talks with Larry Fast of Synergy and Brian Kehew.

Alienearmusic.com was fortunate to be one of a very few publications to be included in the small intimate gathering, which seated only 120 in the performance space at the museum. The two-day event launched the a series of events featuring the event  and was attended by a hand selected group of musicians and Moog fans.

The opening concert with Emerson and Norlander was a historical melding of generations. According to Bob Moog’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa “For the past two years, I have been committed to this vision of these two musicians performing together as the ultimate representation of the Moog Legacy being handed down from generation to generation of musician. I can’t tell you all how delighted I was that Erik Norlander performed alongside Keith.”

The small gathering of fans of both artists traveled from all over the country including the east coast to be a part of this historical event and were rewarded with an incredible performance by the two-man ensemble, primarily using Moog gear. Norlander opened the performance part of the program, performing original selections including Norlander’s  “Neurosaur,” “Dreamcurrents,” “Trantor Station,” “Sky Full of Stars,” and his traditional finale cover of , “Space: 1999/UFO.”  that highlighted his use of Moog instruments.

Progressive rock icon keyboardist Keith Emerson, is best known  as the “E” of “ELP” or \ Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Remembered for his his outragisou performances and antics on stage, from Emerson’s levitating and pinwheeling grand piano with Emerson strapped to the seat and violent tossing of a Hammond organ off the stage, Emerson joked between his offerings about his decades-long friendship with Moog and his use of Moog instruments.

Emerson performed a number of  signature ELP selections including “From the Beginning” and “Lucky Man”, and a piano solo of “Close to Home,” The most revered keyboardist of the last 4 decades, emerson continues to perform with Moog gear.

The highlight of the evening was when Norlander and Emerson joined forces on stage to perform a duet of one of Norlander’s original tunes entitled “The Princely Hours,” that he wrote specifically for the Moog Foundation. Having only taught the piece to Emerson in an impromptu rehearsal with just 30 minutes to stage time, Emerson joked, “You told me it’s in A is it?” “It’s in A so you’ll be playing in E flat.” Norlander replied. “I see, yeah. I like to play outside the chords. “ replied Emerson. “Yes, I noticed that”, joked Norlander. The performance featured Norlander out front and on the rhythm infrastructure, while Emerson topped off the performance injecting a few solos including one on the Moog Theremin.

For an encore the two teamed up again and performed “Fanfare for the Common Man,” A song that Norlander admitted he had never played before. According to Norlander, no encore had previously been discussed but the audience wasn’t having that, so Emerson suggested doing the song as they waited in the greenroom and Norlander just went along. They were joined by drummer Keith Wexler for the finale.

Sunday’s event was just as special, featuring Larry Fast of Synergy and Brian Keyhew. Both gave an informative talk about Moog and the Moog instruments. Fast spoke about the evolution of the synthesizer and his first-hand experience with Moog’s gear and about his contributions as a consultant to the evolution. Keyhew also talked in depth about the technology and his relationship with Moog. The small intimate meeting gave audience members a chance to get up-close and personal with these two artists as well and the opportunity to ask specific questions.

The museum exhibit will continue through April of 2010. It is the first opportunity ever for the public to see the great contribution that Bob Moog made to the music community. The collection of historic instruments and incredible displays of Moog’s prototype inventions were discovered by his family in his workshop. Most of these rare pieces of technology have never been seen by anyone other than Moog, himself.  Rare pieces of his engineering notes and designs are on display as well. 

A pioneer in the field of electronic music, Moog invented the Moog synthesizer in 1964, opening up a world of new sounds and a new world of creativity. Without a doubt the invention of the synthesizer revolutionized music. Today, musicians in nearly every genre of music have used synthesizers to enrich their compositions and recordings.

Spanning over 50 years, Moog’s work in this field left a major impact on music and musicians, opening new doors for expression by musicians because of the wide range of possibilities offered through the use of a Moog synthesizers and synthesizers created by others inspired by Moog. The ability for one person to stand on stage and create an entire orchestra for a live performance is unprecedented in the history of live music. The audience at this performance was witness to the power of technology and this phenomenon as Norlander and Emerson performed.

The exhibit points out the importance of this incredible contribution by Moog. To continue to expose the world to the importance of this contribution his daughter founded a foundation upon Moog’s passing in August of 2005 that serves as a focal point for his work, ensuring its preservation of his legacy and making it accessible to the public so that that it can continue to inspire future generations.

The mission of the foundation is to educate and inspire children and adults through the power and possibilities of electronic music and through the intersection of science, music and innovation. The foundation has three main objectives: preserving and protecting Bob Moog’s archives, creating a Student Outreach Program that brings electronic music into the schools, and its hallmark project, the creation of a Moogseum in Asheville, NC, for which it was recently awarded a $600,000 lead grant by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.

The non-profit organization hopes to  present the exhibit in many other such exhibits worldwide to raise funds to create the Bob Moog Museum in Ashville, NC, where a permanent display of the vast collection of Moog instruments and memorabilia can be exhibited. The Moogseum is planned to open late 2012.
For more information see  www.moogfoundation.org.

The instruments featured in this exhibit in Carlsbad trace the history of Moog’s work.  The exhibit begins with vintage theremins and a prototype of the first modular synthesizer which originally belonged to Herb Deutsch, an experimental music composer from Long Island whose 1963 meeting with Dr. Bob Moog would help define the synthesizer as a musical instrument, and set a course for the future of lectronic music. Other excellent examples of modular instruments from the late 1960s and early 1970s are on exhibit, most notably Keith Emerson’s famous “Monster Moog” will be featured for the first time as a part of the museum display.

The exhibition highlights and explores crucial steps that were taken in the advancement of the Moog synthesizer during the years following the development of the modular system.  The display will showcase a sequence of models that led to the emergence of more compact instruments, such as the Minimoog.  The main impetus behind this tremendous work was Moog’s vision to create a portable electronic music studio on which musicians could compose and perform.

The Museum is planning an array of exciting programming throughout the seven month exhibition with panel discussions featuring people who collaborated with Moog throughout his lifetime, and concerts featuring top synthesists.  The ultimate goal of this exhibition and its programs  is to highlight Moog’s career while celebrating synthesis as a whole.

The Museum of Making Music is a division of the NAMM Foundation. Founded in 1998 under NAMM’s organizational umbrella and with its sponsorship, the Museum of Making Music explores the multifaceted history of the American music products industry from its beginnings in the 1890s to today. Housed at NAMM Headquarters in Carlsbad, California (north San Diego County), the Museum tells stories of hard work, challenge, inspiration and pioneering innovation, and reveals the profound relationship between the industry, popular music, and global culture. For more information see www.museumofmakingmusic.org.

This exhibition is funded in part by The Norris Foundation.