Musik für das Ende

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Claude Vivier’s Musik für das Ende had to wait until 35 years after the composer’s death for its first fully staged performance.  That happened last night at Crow’s Theatre under the auspices of Soundstreams.  It forms the main and concluding part of a really interesting show  directed by Chris Abraham.

The first part of the program is a monologue, Il faisait nuit, of Vivier returning to his Paris apartment and describing his life and his final composition.  Written by Zack Russell and brilliantly played by Alex Ivanovici it’s a French/English piece based on extensive discussions with people who knew Vivier and is said to capture his verbal and physical mannerisms with uncanny accuracy.  It also introduces us to key design elements of the evening.  We, the audience, are lining the walls of a “black box”.  The set is created by lighting effects and there is an electronic sound track.  It’s a very immersive experience. Continue reading

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Century Song

Century Song is a 50 minute show combining music, movement and video projections as it takes us on an aesthetic journey through the last hundred years.  At the heart of the show is soprano Neema Bickersteth who does the singing and dancing.  The singing consists of vocalises by Rachmaninoff, Messiaen, Cage, Aperghis and finally, a piece composed for the show by Reza Jacobs.  The songs are accompanied Gregory Oh on piano and Ben Grossman on percussion and computer.  The musical interludes are structured improvisations originally devised by Reza Jacobs, Gregory Oh and Debashis Sinha.  The dance elements are choreographed by Kate Alton and use a very wide kinetic vocabulary.  Bickersteth’s constantly changing costumes further illustrate the time travel element of the narrative.

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A few additions

centurysongThere are a few things I didn’t mention in my back half of April post.  Century Song opened a couple of nights ago at Crow’s Theatre.  It’s a live performance hybrid, inspired in part by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens, Soprano Neema Bickersteth melds classical song (music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Oliver Messiaen, John Cage, Georges Aperghis and Reza Jacobs) and movement to inhabit a century of women whose identities are contained within a single performer.  Details here.

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