Playing together


As I hinted at in the previous post, our programs this year have a factorial element: 3×2, 2×3; 2×2, 2×4, 1×5; and 1×1, 3×4, 1×5. The repertoire, the staging, the all sorts are organized around these refracting relations and in doing so makes us notice the other, subtler elements of this calculus of performance, the performers. What it is to be Ning playing with Miranda, or Miranda with Ning? What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba? Quite a bit, I think.

We could say that playing-together is a special category of being-together. Ben performs. But in performing Ben is also Benjamin-clarinetist. And in that being, he participates in the community that is clarinet-being. Add to other players and a bunch of composers (living or passed) and things get rather more complicated– clarinet being has a relationship to Stravinsky, as does Benjamin-the-clarinetist, as does Ben. There are always a lot of ways to be together, manners of enmeshment made kaleidoscopically beautiful through the ritual of performance.

Let’s think about Mario and Kyle. Mario’s Duo is an elaborate dance, a rigorous tango. It is not so much that the players play together as much as the play intertwined. You can’t say ‘in parallel’, since that is far too linear- they are pulled together and fly apart, like space probes getting gravity slingshots. Kyle’s Inevitable Failure of Manifest Coherence is more like a slow-motion boxing match, a catalogue of crushing embraces.

The Stravinsky is a very different beast: Miranda notes that “…feeling the bounce or lilt of them and digging into articulations, certainly is a unifying force in playing together…Even when the rhythms go off-kilter, we are still basically unified in doing and experiencing those. We don’t veer off into different ideas…” I love how in her language slips between language of the body and language of the mind – veering into ideas, force as a unifier; body and mind operating on each other.

My etude is some mixture of these, it has intrusions, interruptions, orbits, but also something like the impacts that resound through Kyle’s work. The effect (or affect, really) is a bit different. Miranda’s quote on the Stravinsky outlines my hopes for the work– the friction between reveals layer after layer, but resulting in an image of depth greater than any layer separately; this is the illusory depth of sgraffito, not the destruction of elastic collisions.

Again 3x2x1x4x5 – not billiard balls, nothing so inelastic and Newtonian. Deformations and absorption and messy beings being together.

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