Third Practice


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As my handful of loyal readers already know, process_sound goes silent around times when I’m pressed to finish a new piece and perform it away from home. It would be more interesting if I could balance things better, and maybe even blog from the event, but that’s what wish lists are for.

This recent journey took me to the Third Practice Festival, at the University of Richmond (VA). Ben Broening started this festival in 2001, and quickly carved out an interesting niche in the EM festival calendar. Ben has always had a good ear for programming a variety of interesting music, and since 2004 the festival has benefited greatly from having eighth blackbird as their ensemble in residence. But 3p07 moved a step further, with a range of concerts and performers that one rarely sees at an EM Festival.

While a more complete review will appear in an upcoming SEAMUS Journal, it is worth highlighting 3p07′s book-ends: an opening concert featuring So Percussion and Trollstilt; and a closing concert featuring eighth blackbird and I Gusti Putu Sudarta (shadow puppetry). The opening concert consisted of the hour-long performance of Five (and a half) Gardens, music by Dan Trueman, with texts by Jennifer Trueman and animated paintings by Judy Trueman. The percussion battery presented by So ran the gamut from resonant tubes to wheel barrow. More striking than their instrumentation was their ability to shift and meld a widely diverse range of styles and musical ideas. Trollstilt expands the musical realm even further, incorporating folk-inspired (Norwegian and American) new music into the already extensive landscape. This was a fascinating work and performance, and I found myself constantly impressed by how easily the piece and performers shifted among musical styles. It went beyond the basic ideas of postmodernism into something truly new.

The closing concert featured eighth blackbird and I Gusti Putu Sudarta in a presentation of experimental Balinese Shadow Theater. The merging of the western classical tradition with traditional gamelan was a starting point, but the most fascinating elements were the merging of traditional shadow puppetry with virtual shadow puppetry. Working with technology developed by Semi Ryu and Stefano Faralli, Sudarta could combine leather shadow puppets with virtual counterparts controlled by a Nintendo Wii-mote.

My own contribution to the festival consisted of a new work, Bent Metal, for live laptop performance. It’s still very much a work in progress, with another performance upcoming on the 12th here at BSU. Perhaps I’ll keep the blog sounding and share some reflective thought about working in this new (for me) domain.

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