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New Music in the East Building

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Read my review published today on the Washington Post Web site:

Composer Roger ReynoldsCharles T. Downey, New ensemble for new music explores National Gallery atrium
Washington Post, March 9, 2010

Is the problem with some contemporary composers that their music is more interesting as described in the program notes than performed in actual sound? That theory trumps practice? The promising inaugural concert by the new National Gallery of Art New Music Ensemble on Sunday night, called "Changes: Seasons," presented new compositions "at the crossing point of music, architecture, technology and art," although whether that was true of what was heard is open to debate.

American composers Roger Reynolds and Steve Antosca created a program supposedly crafted to the peculiar architectural and acoustic space of the National Gallery of Art's East Building atrium. Placing speakers at strategic points throughout the building, they aimed to surround the audience with a location-specific sound, using a computer program that captures the amplified sound of instruments played by live musicians and processes it electronically into something new.

With guidance from computer musician Jaime Oliver, the computer took the squeaks and growls from Lina Bahn's violin and Alexis Descharmes's cello, the flutter-tongued purring and avian tittering of Lisa Cella's flute, the low-throated bass clarinet of Bill Kalinkos and the frantic jangle of Ross Karre's various percussion instruments and spit them back out into the room. The first time that those sounds, a digital whirr or whine or whistle, sped around the space like a comet trail, it brought a smile to one's face. After 90 minutes, one was ready to hear something else. [Continue reading]
National Gallery of Art New Music Ensemble
Music by Roger Reynolds, Steve Antosca, Varèse, Xenakis
National Gallery of Art


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