Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Other Minds 2012

The Other Minds 2012 Festival continued its tradition of presenting diverse and unexpected new music. Some highlights for me included:
  • Simon Steen-Andersen's Study for String Instrument #2 for cello and whammy pedal;
  • Gloria Coates' distinctive, otherworldly String Quartet No. 5 in a steely, committed performance by the Del Sol String Quartet;
  • Harold Budd's attractive It's Only a Daydream performed with the fine bassist Keith Lowe;
  • The rich, sophisticated sounds emerging from Ikue Mori's laptop; one wished for more of her and much less of the long group improv that followed;
  • John Kennedy's rhythmically engaging First Deconstruction (in Plastic) for various recycled objects, such as joint compound buckets, water bottles, yogurt containers, salad bar boxes, etc.;
  • Tyshawn Sorey's varied drum set improv, followed by his shift across the stage to perform an accomplished, imaginative, atonal piano improv (not something you see everyday);
  • Ken Ueno's Peradam with his effective string quartet music (performed by Del Sol) coupled with some sophisticated video created in real-time by video wizard Johnny Dekam.
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L to R: Charles Amirkhanian, Harold Budd, Gloria Coates, Ikue Mori, Tyshawn Sorey

A special attraction of these concerts is that the audience, performers, and composers gather afterwards in the lobby to sip champagne, discuss the new music we've heard, etc. A great idea which I hope continues.

In the Fellowship Concert, which preceded the 3 main concerts and featured emerging composers, I especially liked: Peter Swendsen's Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is for bass drum and digital enhancements; and Jen Wang's Renderings of Things We Couldn't Take Home which uses the apparently uncommon technique of playing tam-tams etc. with tremolo bowing. A sprinkling of John Cage garnished this concert, all of which was expertly and sensitively performed by Rootstock Percussion.

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