I heard Sonic Escape on 10/11/20. It was a concert in the Open Space Music concert series. Sonic Escape is a duo, flute player Shawn Wyckoff and violinist Maria Millar. The first piece was a set of three Celtic tunes, arrangements written by Millar (every piece on the program was written or arranged by Millar). It totally ROCKED, they played with force and zest. They engaged with the camera more than I had seen in previous online concerts, which I really enjoyed.
The second piece was written for the two of them plus a third part that Millar had pre-recorded. Wyckoff whistled at the end of the piece. His whistling was delightfully amateurish, it gave a sweet aura to the ending.
The next piece was called “Bach in Ireland.” She wanted to write something with the grounding of Bach but the lilt of Irish music. It started off sounding wholly Irish but later there was some wildly virtuosic writing and a dazzling Baroque flute solo, so there was the Bach I was waiting for! Millar wrote a lot of two-voice writing for the violin (or fiddle, as she says), which gave a lovely richness to the sound. Later in the piece Millar played pizzicato with her left hand and beat on the body of her violin with her right hand, that was exciting. Again, they engaged with the camera quite a lot and danced around a bit while they were playing. This wasn’t done in a coy or cutesie way, it was integral to their performance style and never for a moment took away from the music.
Millar asked for word suggestions from the audience, words she would use in an improvised piece. The words she got were:
What she created was super cool!
Millar wrote “Humanity” in response to the separation of parents and children on the Mexican border. She was overwhelmed by the sound of children crying and decided to process her emotions by writing a piece in which the flute plays the son and the violin plays his mother. She used a wide range of effects for both instruments, and a wide emotional landscape. It was the high point of the concert, very special and memorable.
The next piece, “Farewell,” had a pre-recorded underpinning of rhythm and bass. These added elements gave some extra juice to the piece. The final piece was another rocking set of Irish tunes.
Here they are in performance in 2017: