Live Event: 60×60 and Andre Vida

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On Sunday, January 7th 2007 at Webster University in St. Louis a double bill of Rob Voisey’s 60×60 and Andre Vida was presented by the New Music Circle.  I attended this event, and will provide my impressions below.

60×60 is a yearly sampling of 60 pieces of 60 second new music presented back to back.  The experience is pretty overwhelming.  Some of the pieces immediately pique your curiosity, some are filled with beauty, some are soundtrack pieces in search of a movie, and some simply don’t work.  The speed at which the pieces are presented packs quite a punch.  While the concept seems ripe and exciting, the execution last evening left quite a bit to be desired.  We were given programs, but the lights were too dim to read them and keep up.  There were also supposed to be the titles displayed for every piece, but due to a technology glitch, we didn’t see these.  In the end, however much one enjoyed a piece, it was almost impossible to figure out what that piece was.  If one is listening for promising composers, it was indeed frustrating, but if one is listening as an immediate experience, it was completely enjoyable.  So much diversity, so much sound, so much invention.

Andre Vida brought, seemingly to me, a completely new concept to composition last evening.  He presented three local artists: Tim Meyers on trombone, Chris Woehr on viola, and Rich O’Donnell on percussion, with an animated score for the players to react to in real time.  The score consisted of some very abstract musical notation, circles, and cresents that would swell and move in relation to each other.  They players were instructed with “macrostrategies” and “microstrategies” such as “reinvent the symbol by repeatedly re-approaching it” and “consider the parts of the score that are not visible”.  He was also wearing a hat that would catch Sun Ra’s attention.  There was both humor and seriousness in this approach, which tended to confuse the audience.  I believe Vida was trying, in a thoroughly postmodern way, to challenge the notion of a composer through his radical scores.  He is making the listener and participant aware of the gaps, flaws, and advantages of traditional scoring methods by presenting a completely new method and requesting the musicians to interpret in live time to it.  I’m not sure how pleased Vida felt with the performances, there wasn’t any great tension, but it was often tough for me to see any relation between the score and what was being played.  There were moments, indeed, where the idea came together, but as a whole the concept wasn’t quite executed sharply.  Perhaps this is inevitable if the musicians are new to this method.  I do believe that a community of players dedicated to Vida’s ideas would create some very interesting multimedia events.  The opportunities for the players and the audience to see and interpret the score together could combine to a very satisfying and new experience, I just don’t think that quite happened last night.

One Response to “Live Event: 60×60 and Andre Vida”

  1. St. Louis Blogs : Voisey and Vida reviewed Says:

    […] Front, a relatively new, apparently St. Louis-based blog about creative music, has a brief review here. Published Tuesday, January 09, 2007 3:25 AM by St. Louis Jazz […]

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