Friday, February 18, 2011

FiveOne Music: Sonic Cinema (Experimental Orchestra, at Cleveland Public Theater)

Thompson: Quintet: Summer 2010 (Video: Tolliver)
Nowakowski: Quuntet No. 1
Zare: Phobos (Video: Wibanks)
Allen: Resonance (Video: Jones)
Bratt: Chronicles of Laughing Yesterday (Video: Kasumi)
At the James Levin Theater, part of Cleveland Public Theatres' Big[BOX] Series
(See the end of this post for a complete lists of he artists involved in the musical side of this project)

I hadn't heard of FiveOne Music until recently when a friend suggested this program as something I might be interested in. FiveOne's interesting, but daunting mission and vision speaks of a lack of boundaries to a new perspective on musical works and to challenge concertgoers through a collaboration of some sixteen musicians and composers .

And challenged would be a good adjective for my initial impression with Quintet: Summer 2010. When approaching any work -- visual or auditory -- the overarching questions I try to answer are "How do I feel?" and "How did the artist want me to feel?". Summer 2010 was presented in two movements with two distinct pieces of video. The first movement, Hawaiian Blue, didn't really connect with me on a visual or an auditory level; Screaming with the Circuits, the second movement, really grabbed me rhythmically but I didn't sense the connection to the accompanying visuals. As the piece ended and I realized that I felt an almost primal connection to the music, and on that note -- rightly or wrongly -- the video mixing politicians and primates made sense. I loved the persistent sound that developed throughout the work.

Quintet No. 1 didn't really captivate me, however, I was struck by some interesting and rather unusual sounds from the piano in the piece. While the music was interesting to listen to, the program note for Roger Zare's Phobos with video by Ross Willbanks speaks of uncertainty, tension, and an adrenaline rush but I didn't sense any of these emotions stirring within me in response to the music or the video.

The counterpoint to that rather apathetic reaction, though could be found with Jeremy Allen's Resonance. Played on solo piano in a blacked out room with synchronization to a video, it was the only piece on the program where the video and music felt as if they were a perfect couple unlike the comparatively awkward first dates of the other pieces. The beautifully lit and wonderfully executed video presents a musician in a warehouse alone with piano; beginning gracefully and devolving into an almost painful to watch sledgehammer-driven destruction of that instrument. The piano and pianist creating the music to accompany the visuals were submerged in darkness, but the notes the emerged were just as clear as the video. During the experience of seeing and hearing this piece, it struck me as the struggle, frustration, and inspiration of the creative process...and in reading the program note after the piece, it seems that was precisely the artists goal. Well done.

The program concluded with Michael Bratt's Chronicles of Laughing Yesterday; though I didn't feel as strong a connection between music and video both were delightful to encounter, with some subtle humor in both.

Non musically, for the first two pieces, the lights on the conductor's music stand were positioned in a way to be nearly blinding and quite distracting from the video, but the light also highlighted Violinist Ms. Furuta's facial expressions and were an interesting study in a musician's exertion and immediate reaction to both the conductor and the music.

The Musicians of FiveOne Music are: Melisse Brunet, conductor; Madeline Lucas, flute; Anthony Slusser, clarinet; Conrad Jones, trumpet; Doug Jones, trombone; Doug Jones, tuba; Adam Whiting, piano; Joeseph Rebman, harp; Jonathan Thompson, electric guitar; Nathan Von Trotha, William Delelles, percussion; Elizabeth Fututa, Deborah Milburn, violin; Timothy Mauthe, viola; Anna Bowman, cello; Jeremy Allen, Michael Bratt, composer.

This program repeats Saturday February 19th at 7:30 PM and and Sunday at 3:00 PM.


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