c)i will be performing the trio version of the suite from Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale on Sunday, and so I’ve been thinking a bit about the piece (and his music more generally). Music is always an abstraction, due to its temporality– it is through memory that form and rhythm and harmony are experience, as associations between present and past (and future) events. And (some of) Stravinsky’s music (some of it) gets tagged as being cold or bloodless. But always at the same time it is about the body, it is in the body, savagely and unavoidably.
c)i is excited to be performing a work by Alan Theisen for the first time – he’s on faculty at Mars Hill College near Asheville, North Carolina. Some of you may know that I am on a long sabbatical, and I’m living down in NC; I got to know his music as started getting to know musicians in this corner of the world. (Ah, soundcloud, my late night friend.) When I heard Ondes et Ombres it struck me as a good fit for the 3x2x2x3 show that we were developing, both immanently as a piece and as a trio that would stand as one of the bookends of the program, contrasting Stravinsky’s masterful The Soldier’s Tale. (Apologies for the linkage, Alan; I went through a few years with c)i where I kept ending up on programs immediately after Crumb or Bartok, and so I was officially the hack-composer on the show…)
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. Continue reading “Playing together”