Last night in an aerialist loft in the grittier part of the west end FAWN presented Synesthesia IV part 1. Six short pieces by different composers were choreographed by Jenn Nichols and presented in an art installation by Kathryn Francis Warner. It was an interesting and enjoyable show but it left me wondering how it was going to help select a composer for a future opera. I may be old fashioned but I would want to hear how the composer wrote for voice before making that call and only two pieces last night did that.
First up was Joseph Glaser’s My Day for tenor and cello. Jonathan MacArthur was used as much as a dancer as a singer in this piece which used the cello in a way that challenged any conventional idea of tonality as well, I imagine, as the cellist. The dance elements made heavy use of a sort of water filled sarcophagus. An idea that would recur later.
Next was Lucas Oickle’s Sawari for electric guitar and tape. This had kind of a middle eastern folk rock vibe and proved a great vehicle for some very nice moves by Jenn. This was followed by Thomas Ciszak’s tape piece Sunny After 8 (not inappropriate as the venue is just up the street from the Nestlé chocolate factory). I’m not really in my zone with this kind of composition but it did give an opportunity to see Jenn dance in point shoes.
After the interval we started with Meditation for electric guitar and tape. This had more of a free jazz vibe. Then came Kit Soden’s Tabula Smaragdina for voice and cello. This was largely tonal and, as best I could tell, set a Latin text. There was some fine singing here from Jonathan and more use of the water and the sarcophagus for Jenn. The concert closed out with Nameless Voices for percussion and electronics by David Storen. This was quite a virtuosic vehicle for the percussionist and a great piece for dance.
So, I didn’t vote in the ballot for which composers should participate in the next stage of development as I really didn’t feel I had formed a view of who could write an opera or not. But, hey, I’ll go see Jenn Nichols dance any day.
I expect there will be more photos at some point as the place seemed to be swarming with cameras.