Reviews

DIRECTING and COMPOSITION

Techno Dream and Nightmare Choir , July, 2012

A Black Bag Media Collective Production, in partnership with the Newfoundland Sound Symposium, St John’s Newfoundland.

Collaborative work with Liz Solo

Review by Frank Barry (excerpt)

TECHNO DREAM AND NIGHTMARE CHOIR– a consideration by Frank Barry   (a futuristically primitive live/streaming performance presented by the BLACK BAG MEDIA COLLECTIVE headed by Tina Pearson and Liz Solo and including members of the BBMC, ethno-musicologists from Memorial University and other artists via SECOND LIFE and live stream from Germany, the USA and beyond –  with Krista Vincent, Sarah Comerford, Chris Tonelli, Mehrenegar Rostami, Andreas Mueller, Mike Kean)

A consideration by Frank Barry

The other night I attended a strange performance. And by strange I mean original, interesting, moving – good. In a small room in the basement of the LSPU hall a group of performers/artists/musicians had gathered to ask themselves a question. Their intention (I believe) was to perform both the question and the myriad of answers (more questions) that the original question evoked. The question was this – What are our fears and dreams of the emerging digital technology?

ONE THING INTO ANOTHER – in this piece found texts from various social media were woven together into a song performed by the artists and participants in the room. This was a very moving piece that allowed us to share our common humanity using both text media and the human voice. Somehow the whole night made you realize – no feel – that whatever these new things are they are tools made by us and that we are responsible for them. Another beautiful and perhaps strange thing about the night was that I felt that I was at the very beginning of something. That I felt something like that old ape had felt when he knocked a tree limb against a rock and all the other apes looked up. Do it again! Do it again! Make that sound. Tell us something. I felt that I was not in a room of technology whiz kids but in a room where adults were asking valuable questions about the nature of a human creation that was changing our lives. To be in a room where people were asking valuable questions was original enough these days but to see them do it without the smugness of rhetoric but with a true need to ask the questions was as exciting a piece of honest theatre I’ve seen in a long time. Some of this new technology has now been around for a long time in today’s terms. But what was new and original and exciting about the night was in the end the questions that arose from experiencing it, not alone in a room, but in a community that was asking, like Gauguin’s famous questions, which in fact were themselves a form of mixed media as they were painted as text on one of his paintings. Where did we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? To which I will audaciously add – And who is bringing us there? A night of questions. A night of memory. A night of future.

Frank Barry is a writer, actor, director and dancer for theatre and film currently working in St. John’s Newfoundland.

And Beethoven Heard Nothing” , May 12, 2010

A LaSaM Music Production, Victoria, BC

Co-directed by Tina Pearson and Dylan Robinson

With Chris Reiche, George Tzanetakis, Cathy Fern Lewis, Alex Olson and Timothy Gosley

Review by David Ceccetto
At its base, “And Beethoven Heard Nothing” is a structured improvisation by Victoria’s LaSam that uses Beethoven’s deafness as an occasion to meditate on individual experiences of tinnitus and hearing loss, specifically focusing on how these episodes relate to listening, performing, and conceptualizing music. In some ways, the final result of LaSam’s production is the exact opposite of what Beethoven has come to represent, substituting a haunting inevitability for the latter’s famous dramatic drive. And yet, might there not be a special and specific truth to this? Surrounded by dancing shadows that strain to speak in every way imaginable—instrumental squawks and moans, melodic fragments, multilingual vocalizations, projected historical relics, electronic and physical spatializations, and even the internal machinations of our own ears—the listener hears a tract of time that contextualizes Beethoven work. In this, LaSam finds a breadth that lends breath where the individual symphonies would shout, so that we are led away from the Romantic pathos that has made a caricature of the human being named Beethoven, and towards a deeper empathy for the inexorability of his progressive deafness…a painful progression that LaSam’s work suggests—to my ears—looms close by for all of us who value our hearing in a culture that relentlessly attacks our ears.

WRITING AND EDITING

Musicworks 29: Times and Tides Review by Continuo

Editor, Tina Pearson; Cassette concept: Tina Pearson and John Oswald.

(excerpt) “An ambitious Tina Pearson/John Oswald project, the ‘Times & Tides’ cassette deals with the notion of time in music, taking its sound examples from contemporary Canadian music of the 1980s. It strikes me how various Canadian composers have dealt with this issue from the 1960s till today, think Udo Kasemets or Andrew Timar, for instance. The inclusion of ‘Tides’ embarks lunar influence and cosmological calendars in the project. Additionally, the presence of raga music philosophy (see Trichy Sankaran’s music and interview, tracks #2&3) as well as javanese gamelan music (by Robert W. Stevenson and the Evergreen Club Gamelan Ensemble, Canada’s foremost gamelan ensemble, featured track #7), further widens the scope of time concerns in music. As Sankaran puts it in his interview, in Indian raga, ‘tala’ means time, that is: measure. This gorgeous compilation also include rythm examples from natural sounds, such as human breathing, heartbeats, waves, rooster (early in the morning?), crickets, thunderstorm, clocks sounds, harmonics from slowed down piano notes, …”…”I feel I should mention a few other remarkable things in this release, as well: you will notice from the included info sheet that side A represents one day, with morning, midday and evening tracks matched accordingly. Side B represents 22 cosmological days.

Musicworks 37: Mechanical Disturbances, especially in air

Editor, Tina Pearson; Cassette production, Tina Pearson and Paul Hodge

Reviewed by Continuo

“Another gem from the awe-inspiring Musicworks series, #37 Mechanical disturbances, especially in air’ focuses on resonant sounds, self build instruments and microtonal compositions, including a native tribe’s drum-song and musique concrète as well. Collectively curated by editor-in-chief Tina Pearson and a team of microtonal specialists, the cassette intertwines ancient, even archaic sounds like church bells or gamelan orchestra, with cutting edge research on microtonality by Ellen Fullman or Gayle Young for instance. The latter was to become Musicworks’ chief editor in 1987. Her piece ‘The Amaranth’ is played on a self-build 24-stringed instrument, while Fullman is on his long string instrument. Both offer gorgeous aural epiphanies based on the strings’ harmonics and small intervals. Tom Nunn plays the Varion, a self-build instrument made of amplified metal parts played with a bow, for a richly textured exploration of its sonic potential. The Fleur d’Esprit is another of his own instrument designs. While you listen to the Evergreen Club Gamelan Ensemble enchanting sounds, it’s good to remember gamelan music is based on very short intervals and metallophone instruments specifically build for the gamelan orchestra, 2 caracteristics of the microtonal composers of today. The following field recordings shows Cree indian native tribe in typical drum-song. The Québec electroacoustic group Sonde (1980-86) contributes 2 tracks of beautiful musique concrète/sound sculptures with effects. Both tracks have been reissued on the CD ‘Sonde en ondes’ on the Oral label, 2007. As usual with Musicworks tapes, the impressive coherence of the track listing combines with musicality of the highest order. The plus and what makes Musicworks unique is a care for parishioners, nature sounds, extra-european music and indian native tribes. Murray Schafer can be proud of his students.”

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WORKSHOP FACILITATION

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