To Oblivion, part 1


Program Note

To…Oblivion is a suite of pieces about historic landmarks around Los Angeles for solo electric guitar, electronics, and video projection. The electronics both provide environmental sounds and create an accompaniment by processing the live guitar part, and the video consists of a slideshow of then/now images of each of the landmarks. I have composed three movements of this suite so far, and would like to write an additional three this year, completing an album–length project. The movement you will hear tonight is the opening, “Belmont Tunnel”. The Belmont Tunnel was the first subway in Los Angeles, carrying the Red Cars one mile from 4th and Hill St underneath downtown traffic to a Westlake neighborhood just south of Echo Park near where 1st street turns into Beverly Blvd, before tracks diverged to various points north and west. Trains ran from the 1920’s through the 1950’s, with traffic peaking during WWII; the last subway car to pass through the tunnel in June of 1955 carried a banner reading “To….Oblivion”. The tunnel has been sealed off, but the retaining wall at its Westlake terminus still stands, next to the adjoining Toluca Substation. The site, for years a major attraction for graffiti artists, has since been fenced off and surrounded by luxury apartments. Other movements in this suite so far include one about the Dunbar Hotel, the hub of LA’s mid–20th Century Jazz scene and the only hotel to accommodate African Americans, and another about the Zanja Madre, the first aqueduct constructed in the city by Spanish settlers in 1781.
— Alexander Elliott Miller

About Alexander Miller

Alexander Elliott Miller is a composer and guitarist whose music has been described as “deceptively laid back in an LA way…inventive….unconventional” (LA Times), and “wild…unearthly…lyrical…a voice worth listening to” (San…