Last year Jordan de la Sierra’s legendary 1977 release Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose was rereleased. Now Redbullmusicacademy.com has an in-depth interview with de la Sierra (whose real name is Jordan Stenberg) about this historic New Age music release.
Mike Powell: Tell me about the making of the record, and where you were at as a composer at the time.
Jordan Stenberg: I began to work when I was very young. My father was a very fine craftsman as a sign writer; he did the old gold leaf work, murals, very nice work for people that needed signs and business, illumination for their businesses. My mother was working, raising us as children. She would take us to church and I’d sing out of the hymn books with everyone else that was standing there singing. In high school I really began to experience a lot of really positive feedback from my singing and my saxophone playing, and I began to really do a lot of work as a professional in those days, singing in a lot of situations professionally. I had a full scholarship to go to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I majored in voice and minored in composition, and then I took the major in composition because I began to become more and more engrossed in it.
In the last two years of my time in music conservatory, I had the good fortune to meet Terry Riley: a very, very fine musician in the school of minimalism, working with La Monte Young out of New York. Terry came to the conservatory for a brief time. We were doing a performance of one of his compositions with the New Music Ensemble, “In C.” One thing led to another and I ended up meeting him and La Monte Young as well. I began to take up the study of sound with Terry. He liked what I was doing and introduced me to his Indian teacher, Pandit Pran Nath, who La Monte was also studying with. The music that I studied with Terry and Pran Nath really came out of the minimalist school, what I would call “pure sound with shape.”
Read it here. Highly recommended!