To the intimate (i.e. tiny) Array Space last night for a concert by the Happenstancers who, in this iteration, consisted of Brad Cherwin – clarinet, Madlen Breckbill – viola and Micah Behr – piano. and, in the first number, viola.
Part 1 of the programme was called Dream Images and was intended to evoke the discontinuous and illogical. It began with Du Yun’s dreams-bend for taped speech, two violas and clarinet as a sort of intro to the main event. This consisted of Schumann’s Fairy Tale Narrations and Kurtág’s Hommage à R. Schumann; these being two of the very few works for clarinet, viola and piano. Added to these was a new work; Abstractions by Nahre Sol. The pieces were played with the movements in the right order but with the composers mixed up so, for example, the first four movements went Kurtág, Sol, Schumann, Kurtág and so on. I like this approach. The styles contrast. The Kurtág is spikey and dissonant, the Schumann structured and Romantic and the Sol playful, tonal (mostly) and rhythmically varied. Listening to them interspersed somehow focusses attention on their particular qualities and has a kind of focus that the conventional way of doing things doesn’t.
Last night saw the final concert in this year’s West End Micro Music Festival. Once more the venue was the intimate and acoustically very good Redeemer Lutheran on Bloor West. The first half of the programme was the latest iteration of Nahre Sol (keyboards) and Brad Cherwin’s (clarinets) PAPER. Joined by Louis Pino on electronics, they improved on what paper is, sounds like, looks like and can be used for. There were electronic paper noises, crumpled paper, torn paper, piano prepared with paper and Brad creating a painting on paper and using it as an instrument. I suppose this is more “performance art” than music but it was pretty interesting.
Saturday night’s show in the West End Micro Music Festival continued the theme of combining chamber music with other influences. This time it was rock; specifically NYC 80’s rock. It was really varied, stimulating and, at times, bordering on sensory overload. Brad Cherwin riffed with pre-recorded clarinet and electronics on a version of Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint to open the show. Then came what might have been my favourite bit. It was a version of Julia Wolfe’s East Broadway for electronics and toy piano. Watching the usually soft spoken, even demure, Nahre Sol go completely manic and beat the crap out of a toy piano was a blast.
There was more Julia Wolfe (Blue Dress for drums and cello?) and a David Lang arrangement of Lou Reed’s Heroin with Cormac Culkeen on vocals and a fairly large ensemble and more vocals with a version of Laurie Anderson’s Let X=X and It Tango. The final number was a killer version of David Lang’s Killer with Hee-Soo Yoon playing mad distorted violin while kicking a bass drum.
So, again, WEMMF hit the spot with an intriguing and (over) stimulating blend of rock, classical technique, minimalism and, frankly, sheer lunacy of a kind surely not heard before at Redeemer Lutheran! Great fun much enhanced by Billy Wong’s evocative lighting and Dave Grenon’s sound work.
The final concert is next Friday, also at Redeemer Lutheran, QUARTET PLUS PAPER V2 will feature, inter alia, a new multimedia work for pianist, clarinetist/visual artist, video projection and electronics composed and performed by Nahre Sol and Brad Cherwin.
The second concert in the West End Micro Music Festival took place at Redeemer Lutheran last night. Continuing the idea of “concept” concerts of chamber music this one teamed up composer and keyboardist Nahre Sol with jazz bassist Ben Finley and John Lee on Korean percussion and flute. Violinist Amy Hillis also appeared on one number called, if I recall correctly, “Mountain Goat”.
Interruption; the first concert of this year’s West End Micro Music Festival, happened last night at the season venue; Redeemer Lutheran Church on Bloor West. It was a clarinet quintet concert with a twist or two that was illuminated for me by a chat with clarinettist Brad Cherwin after the show.
Last night the Happenstancers presented another intriguing concert of chamber music titled Chimaera. This time it was in the excellent hall at 918 Bathurst. It was a clever conceit. There were three “sets” with each consisting of two contrasting works that were combined in different ways.
The pieces in the first set were played straightforwardly consecutively but consisted of the least familiar music; Julia Wolfe’s Reeling and the premiere of Nahre Sol’s Chunhyang. Wolfe is one of those young American composers who combine a conservatory training with a taste for minimalism and hard driving rock and, in the case of this piece, folk music. It’s scored for nine instrumentalists including electric guitar and drum kit plus lots of electronics. It’s really cool and reminds me of the most drunk ceilidhs I’ve ever been to. And that may be why I remember almost nothing about the second piece except that the composer (keyboards) was playing it.