Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tonight's concert

In the first work, a plague-infested chipmunk, a cute little thing, as tiny as can be, with foam at the mouth, was hung in chains from the lighting grid, swinging slowly from side to side which, according to the program notes, was a reference to Reich's Pendulum Music. A small patch of hair on its chest had been shaved away, normally quite difficult to see, except that a small video camera was attached to the chain and the image from the camera was being wirelessly beamed to a large screen overhead. This allowed the audience and the humane society volunteers to monitor the condition of the expiring animal, both emotionally and physically. On the shaved portion of the skin, a small piezo microphone attached, and a long thin wire hung down, looping through some sort of magnetic amplification system, with the resultant enhanced bioacoustic signals - heartbeat, respiration et al - driving a solenoid which, in Rube Goldberg fashion, and, at the end of its extension, struck a percussionist quite hard just below the rib cage. At each bruising blow, the percussionist moved to the next event in the score, which was merely a list, viz:
Hard mallet ff on bass drum, 4 cm from the edge, damped with a cupped hand.
Medium triangle p rolled with beaters. etc
Later, after the show, I went into the lobby to ask John Luther Adams to autograph my copy of the orchestral score to Dark Waves. Skeptical at first, but then happy to find that I had actually purchased the score, rather than stealing from some music library, he sat down and began to work. Asking me whether there was an "H" in my name, I said yes, as there is: Erling Henry Wold, but unfortunately I misunderstood, and the very lovely dedication is now capped off by the name Ehrling Wold, bookending my J.S.G. Boggs Considerate States of America Banknote, whose signed REGISTER reads Earling H. Wold.

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