3rd Annual Festival of
Experimental Improvised Music

Baltimore, 2001
Thursday Sept. 13th-Sunday, Sept. 16th
The Theater Project 45 West Preston Street
(On Preston across Cathedral Street from
The Meyerhoff Concert Hall)
Baltimore, Maryland


"No one walked away disappointed, as this year's first annual HIGH ZERO Festival of Experimental Improvised Music left the large crowds at every session enthralled. " --Steve A. Loewy, Cadence Magazine, 1999

"A striking glimpse into the avant-garde and a creative process limited only by the imagination. " --Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, 2000

Born September of 1999 to the wailing of fire alarms, growling tubas and home-built electronic instruments, the first HIGH ZERO festival has been a startlingly unusual event, mixing sold-out and capacity crowds with highly challenging and engaging music.

The second year's festival, High Zero 2000, extended the festival to larger audiences, more performers, and added more intensive street performances, recording sessions, interviews, and documentation to the mix. Two CDs from that festival, focused on Joe McPhee and Carol Genetti, are in the works and will hopefully be done in time for this years festival.

A dazzling mix of innovation, imagination, and integrity, the HIGH ZERO festival is one of the most idealistic and elevating ventures in experimental music in North America. Join us in September for HIGH ZERO 2001 and four exhilarating days of musical exploration!

Our Method
As far as we can tell, we are a unique festival in North America. HIGH ZERO is focused solely on new collaborations in freely improvised experimental music. Internationally famous musicians play side by side with younger "unknowns," united by their commitment to the musical imagination. For four days in September each year, Baltimore becomes a fertile meeting-ground for a group of inspired players, drawn from a fascinating international subculture. The festival exposes large audiences to this radical music in its pure form. Each year, dedicated musicians and sound-artists come as individuals to participate in entirely new improvised collaborations.

The festival exposes large audiences to this radical music in its pure form. Large-scale public concerts, recording sessions, workshops, and guerilla street performances are all part of the heady mix. The players are carefully selected by the festival's organizers for their intense, unique music, whether it is based around dramatic intensity, humor, specially designed instruments, original approach, raw sound, or nearly superhuman instrumental technique. The resulting collaborations challenge the limits of music and delight by their audacity, expressiveness, immediacy, and innovation. It isn't about stars or established projects; it is about the most uncompromising and stimulating new improvised music we can bring together.

High Zero is organized by The High Zero Foundation, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit organization. The festival is an outgrowth of The Red Room, an unfunded but vital space which has presented over 300 concerts of improvised and experimental music, as well as experimental film and performance since it began in 1996. The Red Room is located at Normals Books and Records.

Note: The festival is invitation only, so we DO NOT take submissions for future HIGH ZERO festivals. However, we are always interested in submissions to The Red Room, which is the source of the pool of players invited to the festival.

Mailing Address:

High Zero Foundation, Inc.
2850 N. Charles, Suite. 200
Baltimore, MD. 21218

email: johnb@berndtgroup.net

Photo of Catherine Pancake, above: John Berndt
Most other photos in the site (except musician information page photos): Stewart Mostofsky
Website Design: The Berndt Group, Ltd.
Video Tape Documentation: Steve Steele and Catherine Pancake
Audio Recording of Previous Festivals: Doug Wolf, Jon Rose, Charlie Jameson

Featured Sponsors:


Musicians performing in
High Zero 2001:

Thomas Ankersmit (alto saxophone) Berlin

Jim Baker (Arp synthesizer, piano) Chicago

John Berndt (saxophone, self-built instruments, electronics) Baltimore

Dan Breen (bass, drums, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Mike Bullock (contrabass) Boston

Charles Cohen (Buchla synthesizer) Philadelphia

Daniel Conrad (flute, voice, Chromachord light organ, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Mike Cooper (lap steel guitar, electronics) Rome

Helena Espvall-Santoleri (cello, banjo) Stockholm and Philadelphia

Neil Feather (self-built instruments) Baltimore

Eric Franklin (theremin, self-built instruments) Baltimore

Lafayette Gilchrist (keyboard) Baltimore

David Gross (reeds) Boston

Andy Hayleck (guitar, electronics,
self-built instruments) Baltimore

Katt Hernandez (violin) Boston

Peter Kowald (contrabass, voice)
Wuppertall, Germany

Keenan Lawler (national steel guitar, electronics) Louisville

Eric Letourneau (computers, various) Montreal

Lukas Ligeti (drums, electronics)
New York City

Kaffe Matthews (live sampling) London

Christopher Meeder (tuba, voice, percussion) New York City

Ian Nagoski (electronics) Baltimore

Catherine Pancake (percussion, dry ice) Baltimore

Evan Rapport (reeds, piano) Baltimore

Leslie Ross (bassoon) New York City

Jason Willett (anything) Baltimore

Jack wright (reeds, piano) Boulder