Alarm Will Sound will perform "1969" at the Touhill Center at UMSL

(Photo by Justin Bernhaut)

Inspired by a once-rumored but unconsummated meeting between the Beatles and Karlheinz Stockhausen – icons of 1960s rock and avant-garde composition, respectively – Alarm Will Sound’s “1969” connects the music, politics and culture of a turbulent decade through the works of the Beatles, Leonard Bernstein and contemporary composers Stockhausen and Luciano Berio.

Alarm Will Sound will perform “1969” at 8 p.m. April 26 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. An E3! pre-performance discussion will begin at 7:10 p.m. Tickets are $10-$25.

The concluding production of the acclaimed contemporary music ensemble’s first St. Louis season, “1969” incorporates multimedia elements including three on-stage screens displaying projected stills and videos of the era’s tumultuous events, such as civil rights protests, riots, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. Actors deliver lines based on interviews and writings by Lennon, Stockhausen, and Berio, and the musicians not only play their instruments, they sing and act, too, using the words of the decade’s cultural and historical figures.

“1969” includes selections from the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Bernstein’s Mass, arranged by Gavin Chuck and Stefan Freund; and Stockhausen’s Hymnen and Gesang der Jünglinge, a work that fascinated Paul McCartney. It also incorporates parts of Berio’s unperformed 1963 opera Traces, a work about the politics of race, arranged by Payton MacDonald and Courtney Orlando; and Berio’s arrangements of Beatles songs. The recorded sound effects, samples, and tape loops of Lennon’s “Revolution 9” are performed live by the musicians, translated into instrumental lines, noise, and speech in an arrangement by Matt Marks.

Described by The New York Times as “the future of classical music” and “the very model of a modern music chamber band,” Alarm Will Sound has built a reputation for its innovative and energetic performances of a wide-ranging repertoire of demanding works.

Alarm Will Sound’s St. Louis season is sponsored by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation and the Mizzou New Music Initiative.

Tickets are available through the Touhill Performing Arts Center Ticket Office; online at; or by phone at 314-516-4949.

Read more about Alarm Will Sound’s “1969” at the St. Louis Magazine website or listen to an interview Alan Pierson, Alarm Will Sound conductor, on the St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU website.