From Curator James Holt:
Most MATA curatorial statements describe a live performance that will take place in a traditional performance space. Normally, these projects follow a fairly straightforward formula: the curator plans a concert; invites and coordinates composers, musicians, ensembles, rehearsals, writes program notes, etc. This process is very valuable, especially to a young composer or future presenter.
My project, however, came about through a slightly different process than most Interval productions. After undergoing a competitive application process, a formal public presentation, and a discussion with MATA’s guest composer/mentor Phil Kline, Thruline was selected for development and presentation by the collaborative partnership between MATA and Make Music New York.
Notice that I’ve used the word “project”, a word that I will choose to use over and over again in my writings about this experience. I feel it is important to make the distinction between what can be called a piece or composition, and what is in essence, just an idea. I didn’t compose anything for Thruline: I came up with an idea. That idea is, at its basic core, a performance of Bach throughout the New York City subway system.
In this installation, cellists (and in some cases, alternate instruments) perform the Prelude from J.S. Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major on every Coney Island bound F-train subway platform. The Prelude lasts approximately 3 minutes, and musicians will play the movement continuously for the duration of the installation, repeating as many times as necessary.
Of all the pieces I could have chosen, I decided on this Bach Prelude because of the way that the general public so often recognizes it, and is drawn in immediately; it is a work that subway riders would notice as they hear it again and again at each subway stop. In addition, the texture of the piece remains consistent throughout, with a pattern that non-musicians tend to recognize without needing to know whether the piece is at the beginning, middle or end. These properties create the experience that the title refers to, no matter where a person begins and ends.
As an “accidental” participant in this project, the public initially hears the music as they wait on a subway platform, and then again as they ride the train, every time the doors open at a station. With each subsequent stop, the listeners develop an experiential “thruline” that starts and ends wherever they enter and leave the subway system. The ideal public experience is one where a subway rider hears fragments of the piece every few minutes, recognizing that, at each stop, the same piece has continued, but perhaps in slightly different contexts.
Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Place: Every Coney Island bound F-Train platform
Tags: James Holt