| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »
| Previous Post »

Expozice nové hudby


Brno is not a famous destination for fans of new music. The city does, however, host a few annual music festivals, and among these is the New Music Exhibition (Expozice nové hudby). This year’s 19th annual exhibition, titled Cestou odebírání (The Journey of Reduction) featured "alternative" minimalisms. The festival organizers stated that, while some music intends to expand expressive materials, a lot of other music tries to restrict them, perhaps in a stoic or ascetic act of cleansing. These are minimalisms that do not focus on rhythmic loops and displacement like Steve Reich and Philip Glass; instead, they focus on music that isolates individual musical elements like pitch and timbre. The listener, aided in thus isolating said elements, is able to contemplate them until his or her perception transcends the cultural desensitization and selective hearing that we all learn throughout the course of our lives. The intent is to re-experience said elements anew, as if from a child’s perspective. Well, it sounds "interesting" in theory.

This kind of music can try your patience. During Wednesday night’s performance of works by Alvin Luciera, no less than three audience members left during the riveting Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyprebolas for solo cello and laptop (it was a PowerBook). They probably couldn’t take the excitement. Of course, the entire evening was marred by technical difficulties. This resulted in annoying buzzes from the speakers and goaded the technicians, perhaps in the hopes of fixing these problems, to turn the lights off and on in a whimsical fashion. The composer’s blurted "Oh for Christ Sakes" added to the overall mood. I have to say that, while the compositions weren’t exactly what I hoped for, I sympathized with his frustration.

Technical difficulties continued this evening. During the performance of John Cage’s Solo for Voice 58 (18 Microtonal Ragas), the singer’s portable microphone stopped working and the monitors malfunctioned. Despite the problems, this was an incredible performance of a compelling piece. One of the most wonderful things about Cage’s music is its sense of humor, which was really what saved this performance. The singer was a bit too personally offended by the technical problems, but they were trying for the audience too. The highlight of the performance was the percussionists, Federico Sanesi and Ray Kaczynski. Both played perfectly yet with soul and sensitivity. It was difficult to tell which part of this piece was reductive: elements of Indian kathakali dance added rich visual interest, and the timbral interest and virtuosic percussion artists were aurally enthralling. (I suppose the advertising of the concert as "An Experiment in Indian Cuisine" was what attracted the dreadlocked, incense-burning, neo-spiritual crowd. I doubt the knew quite what to expect, but they seemed to enjoy what they heard.)

I cannot imagine the Exposition becoming a fixture on the new music scene at the present time. Yet, with a bit more attention paid to the technical aspects and a shot of publicity to attract larger audiences, the festival could be an impressive local event.

On another note, I am a great fan of John Cage’s philosophy and some of his music. In my favorite documentary about Cage, he observes the following (though I suspect he is paraphrasing some Zen philosophy of sorts): "I have nothing to say, and I am saying it." As far as I can tell, that pretty well describes this blog.

Dobrou noc.

Tagged: , ,

Comments:

» Post a Comment

Links to this post:

» Create a Link