Quarantine Concert, June 25 2021
My brother Howard curated a third and possibly final Quarantine Concert, presented by Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. I had attended his two previous concerts and heard lots of things I loved. Also a fair amount of things I didn’t love and was happy to hear from again! But hey, that’s the adventure known as Howard Ryan.
This third concert was all prerecorded work, exclusive to the concert, premieres. Howard wanted to make this concert more visually stimulating so he asked the performers to either create a video to go with the recording or he would find something. In almost every case the performer did their own video, with fascinating results.
The times given below are in Chicago time:
7:00pm: Alison Cheeseman (NY)
“O Euchari” by Hildegard von Bingen. I have to give disclosure: Ali is a good friend of mine and it was I who recommended her for this concert. Howard wanted someone to sing this chant and I thought of Ali, I knew she’d do a gorgeous job with it. Her singing was ecstatically beautiful. She made a lovely video of clouds in the sky, seen from the ground, occasionally a bird flying by. Gorgeous way to start the concert. This was a solo, unaccompanied chant, and she had a wonderful sense of movement - - a conductor I worked with (Bob Isaacs, for those of you who know him) said a chant should have the smooth movement of a snake in the grass. She definitely had that.
Here’s the Emma Kirkby recording of this piece that Howard loves and made him want to feature the piece on the concert. Kirkby’s performance is delicate and elevated - - Ali’s performance was surprising, her singing was grounded, rich, maybe even a little earthy. Incredible.
7:10pm: cave__ baby (Malibu)
Moody electronic music with wordless vocals. Video was Tron-esque. The music eventually developed into something somewhat sinister and the video had pyramids and an ankh, and later some Spirograph-esuqe imagery.
7:20pm: Tongo Eisen-Martin (SF)
Handsome man doing a sort of poetry jam situation about racial justice. This was the one segment where the visuals were simply a video of the person performing the piece, probably his phone propped up on a table, filming him. Not so impressive, compared to the inventive visual things we saw from others on the bill. But he did have some nice plants in the background.
7:30pm: Holly Hunt (Miami)
“Queen Anne’s Revenge.” Grungy tune with a solid beat. The video was some enormous prehistoric looking fish swimming around in murky water. The music got more kinetic but not really more interesting.
7:40pm: Bill Noertker's Vhythm (SF)
“An audiograph.” Electronic assembly of music, bird calls, clicking, other stuff I couldn’t quite understand. The video was similar.
7:50pm: Hieroglyphic Being (Chicago)
(visuals by Zuzanna Such on & HB)
“The Sure Reality.” Groovy beat, sounded like percussion only at first, maybe a keyboard or guitar coming in later? Video was hand-drawn animation, sort of cave painting-style. Very cool, definitely a favorite of the evening.
8:00pm: MJ Guider w/ Ann Graziano and Catherine Nelson (New Orleans)
The title went by too fast, it had the word “Kyrie” in it. Moody electronics with moody video that had a slight David Lynch vibe. Totally my jam. I liked the video better than the music.
8:10pm: Alli Warren & Syd Staiti (SF)
Visuals by Syd. Spoken word with cool California landscapes and interiors. I really liked a few shots of someone holding slides of landscapes, quiet and lovely.
8:20pm: Noel V Harmonson (SF)
“Patron Nights in Long Form.” Dark electronics with spooky abstract video. Thank you, no thank you.
8:30pm: Tallawit Timbouktu (Timbuktu)
(visuals by Christopher Kirkley)
Drums, some twangy stringed instrument, and someone speaking in a language I didn’t recognize. The video was footage of musicians performing, eventually splitting into double image/kaleidoscope effects, very cool. Another highlight.
8:30pm: Sabiwa (Taiwan)
“An Enigma.” Mellow yet menacing electronics. The video appeared to be a couple of wasps feasting on a cow’s ear? Is that was I was looking at? In any case, I didn’t want to be seeing it. The video eventually changed to something more pleasing, which I saw as a combo of the Egyptian imagery of cave_baby and the kaleidoscope effects of Tallawit Timbouktu. Unintentional references, I’m sure. Which made them more meaningful? It was almost 9:30pm New York time when her piece came on and Howard said she was watching it from tomorrow morning in Taiwan.