Thursday, February 23, 2006

60 x 60 - what's it really like?

The 60 x 60 Project had its West Coast premiere this evening at Mills College. I made my way over there and found a parking space and a seat in the Ensemble Room. Agnes Szelak, one of the contributors, was hosting it and she had an analog clock with a sweep second hand projected on the wall by means of a digital camera and a projector. The clock was awfully cute. It involved the anime character Pucca.

I met my fellow 60 x 60 contributor Katrina Wreede. She'd brought with her three of the smallest and best-behaved audience members ever -- Chan, Anh, and Hoa. All of whom are aspiring violinists! So it was appropriate that the show opened up with "Study" by Travis Ellrott which sounded like stringed instruments drag racing.

Eight pieces in, the digital camera started in with a self-test menu with text and graphics that obscured the Pucca clock. So Agnes turned it off and we listened to the show in darkness.

I think Rob Voisey has done a great job selecting the pieces. I say this naturally not just because he selected one of mine. The pieces are grouped by vibe and instrumentation and it is a really diverse set. There were instrumental pieces to start with, including a menacing cello drone and a clarinet and flute piece. Rene Veron's "I'm Not" seemed to depict a dreamlike struggle to speak and it ushered in a set of pieces all involving text. There was even a piece with somebody speaking French that mentioned the name Celeste!

A lot of the pieces were playful and fun and groovy and had me neck-working and chair-dancing. Others were haunting, which is one of my favorite qualities to hear in contemporary music. I got to hear a piece by Alex Shapiro whom I met at Composers Inc. It sounded like a jazzy seductive Los Angeles underbelly song. Harlem Lullaby gone wrong type thing. There were some pieces for piano and harpsichord whose common adjective would have to be "thunderous". Later on there was a set of love pieces. My piece, "Cold Blood", has been moved to #59 in the lineup. It was paired with another anti-war piece in the #60 slot. I really liked that.

I think you'll like 60 x 60 if it comes to your town. There's a wide range of styles and quite a lot of humor in it.

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