"This is the fulfillment of a dream for a new kind of music. There is nothing like "Vespers" in the literature of music. It is a completely new way of defining what music is, and the definition is given to us in a purely realized form." - Robert Ashley
Since its advent within the broader of movement of modernism during the early years of the 20th century, avant-garde music has almost always struggled to reach the audience for which it was conceived. It is a diverse creative territory, forward thinking and radical by nature, that pursues the unknown, attempting to create new forms of organized sound that are more democratic, accessible, and open than those of the past. Emerging during the late 1950s and across the 1960s, the second generation of the post-war avant-garde can be regarded as a representational return to the ideologies that define the practice. As a result, they collectively created what is arguably the most revolutionary body of thought and action within 20th century music. Despite the persistence of the definitions and perceptions cemented by their predecessors, these artists and their work —Éliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Curran, Takehisa Kosugi, Frederic Rzewski, David Behrman, Terry Riley, Robert Ashley, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, Tony Conrad, Gordon Mumma, and countless others have yielded unparalleled influence.
Among the most important, influential, and radical of this generation is Alvin Lucier, a towering figure in the field. Already active on the scene for a number of years, Lucier’s entrance into the public and creative consciousness occurred in 1966 at the now legendary ONCE Festival, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, as a member of the newly formed Sonic Arts Union, a collective founded with fellow composers, David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, and Robert Ashley, he performed his groundbreaking work, Music for a Solo Performer, composed the year before.