FILMMAKERS LEARNED early on how powerful the combination of sight and sound could be. Musicians, though, pride them selves on the self-sufficiency of their art, so the presence of any visual element in the concert hall is still a novelty. Two concerts next week bring these arts together—acoustic music with film, and electronic music with video—for multimedia presentations.
Seattle Chamber Players
Benaroya Recital Hall, May 21
Meany Hall, May 24
For their season finale, the Seattle Chamber Players continue their three-year tradition of showing a film with live incidental music—this year it's the 1922 classic Nanook of the North, Robert Flaherty's intrepid documentary of Inuit life, complete with igloo-building and walrus-hunting scenes. For the film's 1976 video release, Stanley Silverman composed a new score, which will be played by SCP members and guests: clarinetist Laura DeLuca, violinist Mikhail Schmidt, cellist David Sabee, bassist Mark Bernat, pianist Meade Crane, and percussionist Matt Kocmieroski. Rounding out the program are Alfred Schnittke's Serenade and Variations on American Children's Songs by Hanns Eisler.
"Aural Cinema, Visual Music" is the catchy title of the concert presented next Wednesday by CARTAH, the University of Washington's Center of Advanced Research Technology in the Arts and Humanities. In Bret Battey's On the Presence of Water and Joseph Hyde's Zoetrope, the composers created both music and video; we'll also see Thom Heileson's satirical video Mal.informal and The Art of Survival, a class project for a UW computer animation course that made its way into the 1999 compilation "Spike and Mike's Classic Festival of Animation."
COMPUTER-GENERATED sounds mix with sounds derived from preexisting recordings in Life Study #5 by CARTAH director Richard Karpen. These derived sounds, in varying degrees of familiarity, may or may not suggest narrative or programmatic meanings to the listener, an ambiguity Karpen relishes. In Metal Hurlant, Juan Pampin joins a live percussionist (here Rob Tucker) with electronic sounds as a respite from the immateriality of technological data—a phenomenon that has always been a problematic aspect of computer-music composition, but which is increasingly becoming a part of everyone's daily life: "More and more, we manipulate things we are unable to touch." Exploring this same theme, Chad Kirby's Ex Vitro reveals beautifully how acoustic and electronic sound interact. Kirby himself performs in this piece, which was previewed a couple of weeks ago at a Seattle Composers Salon concert. The rich drone he produces on his glass didgeridoo is processed in real time by computer (his handy Macintosh PowerBook), and the two envelop each other in lush sound.