Thursday, January 19, 2012

Collaboration

One week from tonight (Thursday, Jan. 26th, 2012) will be the debut performance of a new suite of music I have written entitled “On the Surface of Water".  It is part of a new interdisciplinary work created with visual artist, Deborah Dancy and videographer, Ted Efremoff. The show takes place at 7:30 p.m., in the new Classroom Building (located between the Student Union and the Center for Undergraduate Education) on the UConn Storrs Campus. Admission is free.

Also on the program is a revisiting of “Beneath the Black Earth”, our first collaborative project, from 2006/07. Both pieces will be performed by the 10-piece, New Directions Ensemble.

“Beneath the Black Earth” was the first major interdisciplinary collaborative work produced within the School of Fine Arts. For Deborah, Ted and me, the project served as an opportunity to produce something unique, which would give our individual work new shape and provide a context for experimental exploration. It was the first step in building a laboratory of ideas and possibilities, as well as planting the seeds for continued dialog and experimentation. When embarking upon this creative venture, we didn't have a fixed vision regarding the final outcome. Ideas stemmed from free musings that lead to the ambiguous, slippery territory of creating.

The resultant piece was presented to an enthusiastic audience on November 8th, 2007 in the Nafe Katter Theatre. Deborah’s digital images were projected on hanging muslin scrims, floating as ephemeral veils, evoking a poetic movement, and producing a haunting and powerful presence in convergence with my musical responses. My accompanying music, scored for cello, alto saxophone, Rhodes electric piano, and percussion, provided a multi-layered element - a synchronistic association to the visual work. It also included improvisational space so that the musicians could respond to what they saw unfolding on the screens. We wove together a tapestry of video images with music inspired by our mutual interests, conversations and spontaneous creativity.

Here is a video of the November 2007 performance.  The band features Kris Allen on alto sax, Greg Heffernan on cello, Rogerio Boccato on percussion and me on Rhodes electric piano.


 
For the upcoming show on Jan. 26th, 2012, we have manipulated and refined this original performance piece. I further developed and re-orchestrated the suite for a chamber jazz orchestra consisting of 3 saxophones, 4 brass and rhythm section.

“On the Surface of Water” also combines music and visual imagery into a transformative sensory experience. The narrative themes running through the work are based in part on probing the lyrical and luminous qualities of water: reflection, mist, fog, movement and the similar properties that exist with human memory. These conceptual properties serve as the artistic springboard for this multi-media collaborative effort. Video images of rivers, streams, mirrors, and similar elements were combined with static digital photographs; created using a medium format digital camera, and found archival images. The combined images were layered into video format that will be projected on multiple screens.

As with the previous work, "Beneath the Black Earth", this project continues the collaborative effort across disciplines and areas, uses technology in an exciting manner, and has expanded the range of the three individual artists' creative experience.

At this point (a week before the show), after having realized the music on paper, I am now drawing my students into the creative process by presenting them with musical drafts to sight read in rehearsals. The music has already undergone a series of revisions based on my observations and the feedback received from student musicians. By presenting the music to students first, I find that I am more inclined to take compositional and orchestrational risks, than if I were to immediately subject my music to the scrutiny of my professional peers.

Although interdisciplinary arts collaboration is not new, there is a renewed interest and focus on collaboration, nationally. Artists must explore new ways to look at, discuss, create and present art if we hope to engage and develop new audiences.

Through the course of the project, I believe my work has evolved, and we have produced a combined effect greater than the sum of our separate effects. Being drawn into the creative world of artists working in different mediums, and being exposed to their interests, passions and processes was insightful and truly inspiring.

I hope you can join us for this exciting debut performance.

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