This is the second of three blog entries by curator Owen Weaver leading up to the 10/26 MATA Interval Series concert at the Actors Fund Arts Center.
This is a place where I will discuss the music and artistic collaborations in the works for this show. Special thanks to MATA and Issue Project Room for making the magic happen!
Episode II: Missa Materialis by Ian Dicke and Sculpture Piece No. 1 by Lisa Coons.
With one week to go until Interval 6.1 there’s a lot going on. Pots and pans. MAXmsp. Intensive choir practice with Tigue Percussion. And I received a HUGE box in the mail from Lisa Coons with a gnarly metal sculpture inside…
In today’s post I’d like to discuss two more pieces on the program, how they came to be, and who is in on the fun.
A Mass for Junk…
Missa Materialis was composed in Austin, TX at the behest of myself and dear friends/former classmates line upon line percussion. We were in the grad program at UT Austin, they had their consummate chamber percussion band thing going as I was trying to find my thing, and we decided that it would be fun to collaborate.
Ian devised a theatrical five-movement requiem mass for consumer culture–with a lot of found objects and trash–fitting somewhere between Kagel’s Dressur and STOMP. (I know, it’s hard to reconcile those two worlds, but imagine it in the best possible way)
The piece was largely inspired by Vince Hanneman’s Austin landmark the Cathedral of Junk, which drew local and tourist gawkers alike to his backyard for decades until it was recently condemned by the city (progress, folks).
(more photos and words here:http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-cathedral-of-junk-austin-87157)
Later, Ian prudently revised the quartet into a trio so that line upon line could keep it in their extensive touring repertoire. In this format I’ll perform it next Friday with Amy Garapic and Matt Evans of Tigue Percussion. They are a new and fantastic percussion band from NYC via Ohio State University and The Eastman School of Music. Excitingly, we are only the second ensemble to perform the piece on this, the NYC premiere. The three of us have had a blast putting it together with musical saw hijinks, boomboxing, a rare duet for ratchets and lots of work on three-part vocal harmonies. Amy even taught herself how to whistle just for this concert. Dedication.
As a teaser, here’s a video of the third movement from a line upon line recording session:
Art That You Hit…
I was lucky that my studies at the Hartt School overlapped with Lisa Coons’ one-year teaching fellowship in composition. We were paired for a performance of her improvisatory Sculpture Piece No. 1 on Hartford’s Women Composers Festival. Our collaboration clicked as we rebooted the form of the piece, which hadn’t seen a performance in a few years. She also lent me a bunch of different implements with which to attack her sculpture, including a paint scraper, guitar strings, and crazy sticks she made with old-school telephone bells mounted on the end. I was sold.
She is the type of person who might linger near a construction site just to listen to the interplay of noise, and I love that about her.
The thing itself is not friendly. Welded together by Lisa from rebar and electric fence wire from her family’s Missouri hog farm, twisted metal branches flare out in all directions. When I first met Lisa and her sculpture she asked me if my tetanus shots were up to date. Apparently, the last performer was prone to some bloodletting in performance…
In practice it functions not unlike John Cage’s amplified cactus–if the cactus were made of big metal spikes, not tiny needles. As with the cactus, a contact microphone amplifies every pluck, flick, and caress, revealing a Whoville of sounds on every tine. Contact mics=sonic microscopes.
The result is a structured improvisation for amplified sculpture that explores and relishes all the noises–beautiful and less so–that can possibly come out of this thing:
SXSW 2012, photo by Elisa Ferrari