The performers of NOBROW.collective, led by Aaron Butler, gave a thrilling premiere performance of my percussion quartet, Kinetic Attractions, last night as part of the Athens International Film and Video Festival. They played with energy and clearly enjoyed making the most of the work’s playful and more aggressive sections. The work began without pause following a screening of Melissa Haviland and David Colagiovanni’s Dinner Music. It was especially enjoyable to see their work on a larger screen, and the back-to-back pairing of film screening and musical performance highlighted connections between the works that would otherwise have gone unnoticed: timbral links between the quiet gongs in my music and the slowed image of small cups bouncing from a hard surface; textural links between the sparse quiet rhythm of cymbals, wood blocks, and buzzing shaker recalling the slow motion shards of ceramic pulsing on the screen.
The concert concluded with the premiere of Matthew Burtner’s Deep Earth. A large-scale multi-media work lasting 40 minutes, it combined a grand assortment of acoustic and electronic instruments–including unusual sound sources like gravel and dragged concrete slabs–with video. Burtner favored large scale shapes that grew through an accumulation of instruments to large masses of sound. The most striking movement (pun irresistibly intended) was the finale, in which tuned stones offered a memorable rhythmic dance against historic documentary footage. Its straight-forward melodic approach was a welcome contrast to the earlier swell/release-based structures.
There was a real feeling of involvement and attention from the large-turn-out audience at this concert, and I felt everything was paced well with the right amount of sound versus visuals and a good contrast among the selections. There is much exploration of multi-media in new music concerts of late, and this performance showed what is possible with smart programming.