The Benefits of Inflection: “A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance”

From “Picture This.” Veronica Anastasio Wiseman, Adara Meyers, and Blair Nodelman with baggage.

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Co-produced by Charlotte Meehan and Adara Meyers

Feb. 15 – 26, 2018
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance is an intimate multimedia salon theatre experience. It’s a concert with dramatic sketches. It’s a lot of things including unusual, fun and experimental.

The 90 minute event begins with Thread Ensemble’s “A conversational/musical interlude on home.” Audience members were asked about several questions on “home.” Written answers were turned into music by members Andria Nicodemou (vibraphone/percussion), Rachel (violin) Panitch, and Abigale Reisman (violin). It sounded like improvisational John Cage-y movements set with spoken word poetry. Thread Ensemble performed them well: they maintain excellent ensemble with each other; Nicodemou use a bow to make her vibraphone sound like a glass harmonia; the colors painted with their instruments imply great range. But, such contemporary-sounding classical music is not to all tastes. Their style was untraditional.

“nostos/ algos” is a dance, poetry piece that extends beyond definition because it includes so many art forms. It discusses through motion, voice and still art what it means to be in America around distrusting, xenophobic white Americans. While it is generally successful, it’s message is significant, the players don’t watch each other enough. The parts of this piece that worked the best unified the performers. As the music by Asha Tamirisa plays, Maurice Decaul and Juwon Jun engage in reactionary dancing. He mimes pushing and pulling her body, and she responds from several feet away. Had Decaul waited for Jun’s body to come to a natural rest between push and pull, this choreography would have been more effective. Instead, it looked as if the performers were on different planes.

“Alone Together” and “River Rising” are two compositions by Kirsten Volness. On this evening, EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks played both with elegance. Volness’ first piece live loops Holmes-Hick’s violin solos with pre-recorded electronic music. It is pleasant but ends unexpectedly. “River Rising” is a dramatic sound dialogue that engages the ear with a more classical sound. It tells a story with the violin that begins plaintive like whale song that winds into violence. It isn’t a hummable tune but it is beautiful.

The last offering of the evening was Adara Meyers, “Picture This.” It is a strikingly personal look into the emotional experiences of the playwright through choreo-poetry. The stage is set with suitcases which represent unpackable emotional baggage. Cell phone footage presents Meyer’s fresh-faced vulnerability. Blair Nodelman and Veronica Anastasio Wiseman play a spectrum of female relationships. It’s the kind of short play that had the women in the audience sounding “Mmmm” in unison at poignant moments. If that isn’t a trophy of honesty from a female-dominated audience, I don’t know what is.

A Winter Gathering of New Music & Multimedia Performance isn’t the kind of concert to shake one of the doldrums. Rather, it’s proof positive that winter’s forced confinement can reap great benefits for the introspective. Artists can make art from anything.

Please note: a previous draft of this post incorrectly listed Lilit Hartunian as the violinist playing Volness’ music. It has been corrected to name musician EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks. The pieces were listed in opposite order. This also has been corrected. (2/20/18)

Queen’s Note:
We elected a racist, homophobic, climate-change denying bigot to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. As predicted, Trump’s government is coming for the the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD

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