daniel brugh

By GARY FERRINGTON

Listening to music under a darkened parabolic dome with flickering colored lights and choreographed projected video images isn’t commonly associated with the chamber music tradition. Yet that’s exactly what audiences will experience when listening becomes the melding of new music with modern performance techniques in a Cascadia Composers concert at Eugene’s historic First Christian Church on January 30.

Perceptions of Sound is designed to engage the ears and mind with a variety of acoustic and electroacoustic works presented in surprising and enlightening ways “that both challenges yet entertains,” according to concert organizer Daniel Brugh. “There’s gonna be a few lights of a variety of colors, video, some sound-induced visuals and lots and lots of darkness! This is music experienced in an alternative way.”

John Berendzen plays Robohorn at Cascadia Composers' Perceptions of Sound concert.

John Berendzen plays Robohorn at Cascadia Composers’ Perceptions of Sound concert.

Showcasing the talents and creativity of a host of local and regional composers and performing professionals, this multimedia experience draws connections between different artistic media elevating the act of listening. Several of the works have been adapted for or written specifically to take advantage of the unique space and special acoustic properties of First Christian Church’s parabolic dome.

The program will feature Eugene’s Delgani String Quartet, pianist Alexander Schwarzkopf, soprano Nancy Wood and percussionist Todd Bills among many professional musicians from Eugene and Portland. The ten contributing composers include Eugene’s Paul Safar and Alexander Schwarzkopf along with Portlanders Daniel Brugh, Jennifer Wright, Jeff Winslow, Nicholas Yandell, Susan Alexjander, Ted Clifford, Lisa Ann Marsh, and Vancouver Washington’s Brandon Stewart.

Listen Up!

The evening’s event will open with a musical interlude courtesy of Portland composer and musician John Berendzen and his “Robohorn,” a hybrid electroacoustic instrument developed around a marching mellophone. This unusual DYI horn is fully mobile, self-powered, and allows Berendzen to stroll freely throughout the performance venue with the sound of the instrument being modified by reverberation within the acoustic space. (See: 3 Sisters, a film by Ani Asuncion with Robohorn soundtrack by John Berendzen.)

The concert continues with a diversity of music by Northwest composers who are actively involved in composing today’s classical music. Click the “Hear/Here” links for samples of recent work by each composer.

First Christian Church's parabolic dome provided inspiration for several of the works to be performed there at Cascadia Composers' January 30 concert.

First Christian Church’s parabolic dome provided inspiration for several of the works to be performed there at Cascadia Composers’ January 30 concert.

Elkos by Susan Alexjander uses unusual microtonal tunings derived from vibrations of the infrared world of the DNA molecule. These original light frequencies, when translated into pitches, create a sonic ‘map’ of this molecular world for the human ear…what one author called “the invisible whispers within,” she writes in a program note. It is a watery and intimate piece that flows in flexible time between a violinist and synthesizer player. The violinist must match the synthesizer’s tunings as best he or she can, but often the rub, or clash, results in interesting vibratory events which take on a life of their own. (Hear/Here)

Inspired by a Deborah Buchanan poem, Lisa Ann Marsh’s Counting Again, Beginning at One will resonate with an array of percussion sounds (vibraphone, orchestral bells, cymbal, wind chimes), piano and soprano. Lighting effects and spatial arrangement and movement of the performers augment the mystery and poignancy of the piece. (Hear/ Here)

Eugene composer and videographer Daniel Heila filmed moving imagery that inspired him based upon the abstract title White Canvas, a piece for piano, bass clarinet and alto flute by Paul Safar. Both Safar’s music and Heila’s accompanying video were purposely composed in isolation from each other, resulting in a “project of chance.” (Hear/Here)

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