March 4-6, 2005 Seattle audiences have the unique opportunity to experience three distinct approaches to new music through the Music Matters Festival at On the Boards (OtB). The weekend includes 2 performances by award-winning composer Mikel Rouse with the world-premiere of his new piece Music For Minorities (March 4 & 6 at 8pm), 2 performances by NYC’s acclaimed avant-classical group Ethel (March 5 at 8pm and March 6 at 2pm), and 3 performances of a sound/dance installation entitled echo:system/actionStation#2/ the desert constructed in the OtB studio by the versatile artist, dancer and musician, Grisha Coleman (March 5 at 2pm & 6pm, March 6 at 5pm).
OtB Artistic Director Lane Czaplinski states, “Grouping these three projects together was an attempt to provide our audiences with a sense for how some of today’s most exciting artists are grappling with making and performing music. While all of the artists are similar in their devotion to exploring new musical territories, they each achieve something that I believe is entirely new and unique.”
Mikel Rouse / Music for Minorities
March 4 & 6 at 8pm / OtB Mainstage
In this world-premiere composer and musician Mikel Rouse plays solo guitar and sings while accompanied by a recorded soundscape of percussion and multiple guitars. Throughout the performance he weaves stories and interacts with synchronized video. Music For Minorities is a stunning display of polyrhythms and counterpoint all filtered through the influence of Delta blues. Rouse’s compositions have been performed at Lincoln Center and throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has received numerous awards from Meet the Composer and ASCAP. Upon moving to NYC, Mr. Rouse formed a contemporary chamber ensemble that produced numerous recordings, including “A Walk in the Woods” which appeared on The New York Times list of “Ten Best Records of 1985.” In 1995, Rouse premiered and directed the opera Failing Kansas inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. This led to the emergence of an art form he calls “counterpoetry,” which involves the use of multiple unpitched voices in counterpoint. In 1996 Rouse premiered and directed the opera Dennis Cleveland which was hailed by the Village Voice as “the most exciting and innovative new opera since Einstein on the Beach.”
March 5 at 8pm and March 6 at 2pm / OtB Mainstage
Made up of violist Ralph Farris, cellist Dorothy Lawson, and violinists Todd Reynolds and Mary Rowell, the music ensemble Ethel defies the normal conventions of a string quartet with a wide-ranging new music repertoire and frenzied-yet-virtuosic musicianship that owes as much of its sensibility to rock and jazz as it does to classical music. Ethel’s penchant for improvisation and theater is instrumental to its group philosophy and aesthetic. The performance at OtB will showcase the personality and accessibility of the new music for which Ethel is known, including pieces by John King, John Zorn, Todd Reynolds, Evan Ziporyn, John Halle, Scott Johnson, Michael O’Brien and Phil Kline.
Grisha Coleman / echo:system/actionStation#2/ the desert
March 5 at 2pm & 6pm, March 6 at 5pm / OtB Studio
Grisha Coleman works with a team of collaborators doing research in science and technology to build an immersive sound environment in the OtB Studio Theater. The resulting environment will provide a surreal setting for a 70 minute performance for 5 dancers/musicians/performers. The desert is the second in a series of projects that Coleman is creating to explore how artists and scientists can work together to inform (and grow from) one-another by their similar processes of exploration, collaboration and imagination.
In The Desert, the team explores ways to simulate a desert ecosystem simultaneously informed by it's virtual, mythological and physical properties – one affecting the other. The practice of locating narratives in the landscape derived form Aboriginal cultures is a metaphor that is extended through the performers experience of their urban contemporary reality. In the performance environment audience members will experience a technologically integrated, synthetic ecology that uses sensors, audio and visual media. The live performance takes its cues from the dynamic integration of the natural world of a desert, with the sonic and kenetic aspects of the installation constantly shifting and regenerating as information is provided by live performers and the audience presence.