Kaleidoscope Concert captured
#2 Nov 20, 2008
To all who choreographed, directed, and performed in the Kaleidoscope concert, I wanted to tell you how much my wife, myself, and our two children enjoyed it. The show said much to me, and, at the end, there were tears in our eyes. Im very glad I was able to see this one, and I see clearly why my daughter chose Lawrence University.
The Kaleidoscope concert was deceptively simple. It gave us hints of what music IS, and by implication, it gave us an introduction to what Lawrence University is about. Like a mini big bang for the mind and the heart, when unpacked, it revealed much more than was compressed in its 70 some minutes.
The shows music segments flowed nicely one to the next, which gave an impression of one whole show with an organic unity versus a series of unrelated music vignettes. It was, then, a show that was greater than the sum of its parts. Also, we, in the back of the third balcony, and the whole rapt audience, were kept interested by the use of all parts of the house, from the top balconies down to the main floor and to the full east and west of the stage. So the stagecraft was first rate.
But when this seamless flow of segments was combined with music performed with great nuance as well as with technical competence, it gave a most pleasing effect; it sort of brought us to another place. As the show unfolded, the impression, to me, was that we were being given hints at what music is, hints of the essence of music. In the end, it was suggested to me that music is one heart communicating with another, whether with deep feeling, or with light whimsy, in time. And, at Lawrence, I discovered, this is done well.
I read the concert as being composed of a first paragraph- comprised of the first four segments - acting as an overture of sorts, followed by an elaboration of what we saw in this first overture. The brass fanfare, came out first, saying And now we present . Lawrence University Music Conservatory. Next, we heard the simple but ethereal voices of the womens choir, a cappella, using the original music instrument, the voice, giving us the sense of music as lyrical, poetic and almost magical. Then, building complexity, and with a dash of whimsy, on the main floor was a dynamic duo playing folkish melodies on a single piano. My son said to me that the style in which they played reminded him of how Mozart played the piano in the movie Amadeus; that is, with *excitement*. Ending the overture, the drapes opened and the full Lawrence Symphony Orchestra dramatically swooped down to the driving sounds of the "William Tell" Finale telling the audience that music is also loud, complex, and riveting, brimming with many moving parts and musicians strongly playing string, percussion, and wind instruments all-at-once and in unison. Bravo!
The rest of the concert expounded on this first set of segments. First -- in what was to me a key segment that revealed what musics essence was -- almost like performance art, with the cavernous Fox Valley theatre completely dark, we saw a woman holding a single torch in the upper reaches of a cave on a mountain --I mean, the balcony - then another woman on the other balcony, and another two way down in the valley on the main floor. With their torches in their hands, they were vocalizing to each other, communicating to each other something from their hearts, "Knowee", with the first, and simplest, musical instrument, the human voice. It reminded me almost like something from SETI with the pattern of sounds continuously issued. This to me hinted at what the origins, and soul, of music is - people communicating from one heart to the other, IN THE - DARK, in time. I understood that this music was the audio side of the torches, or the light. I got it: Lawrences mission of light, more light, and music, fused in one dramatic play.
Since: Nov 08
#3 Nov 20, 2008
...continued from previous post from Mike...
Then the lights came on, and out came a parade of people, the Sambistas of Lawrence, using the other original instrument of music, hands clapping in time. From hands, came sticks, and the line of players rhythmically and thunderously rapped casings of taut skins -AKA, drums - treble on the left, and directed by a student. Cool.
Now that we had basic music established, fast forward 20,000 years and we heard American music theater, a whimsical 19th century Strauss opera piece, and punctuated in between, small wind and string ensembles, including sweet guitar music from Ararat, Armenia. I know what happened there, the first genocide of the 20th century. We also heard an Islam song called "Closer to the Fire", by Hafez - an Islamofascist?, No, a mystic, whose musical sounds showed a kinship with the music that started the concert, the womens choir singing medieval hymns to Our Lady, "Quivi e la Rosa". The Fire and The Rose. Islam and Christianity. Music and Light: Interconnected in their essence.
Coming in to land and to finish the evening off we had more hints of the nature of music: Alone and spot-lit on the main floor we saw a single player making magical sounds from a simply made, ancient, brightly painted hollowed out wooden tube; with its almost otherworldly percussive sound powered solely by human breaths, this, again, recalled "Knowee". Then stitched somehow seamlessly to this folk instruments sounds, and hitched to those beats of breath, came Lawrences modern jazz ensemble in a concerto of sorts of the old and the new, nicely connected, and playing off of each other.
THEN in a Finale as fine as I have ever heard in a concert, we experienced all at once the elements that we had been served the previous hour: a darkened theatre, solitary a cappella human voices again, the original music instrument - singing with a slow soft cadence sweetly and patiently. Then we heard the ever-so-soft and equally patient reply from the strings of the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra in the opening of the "1812 Overture". The descending movement of swirling strings was simply delectable and held us to the edge of our seats. Although I have heard this many times before on 4th of July, I can say on that night of the Kaleidoscope concert, in an evening of many musical surprises, I have never heard the "1812" done with such a poetic dramatic sense. It was as if I were hearing it for the first time.
When the metal artillery pieces some kind of percussion instruments that were wheeled onto stage - discharged along with the furious strings, I felt that the 'invading armies of despotism' were being repelled. Recalling that single plaintive voice of a mother in the dark, thats when I understood what music is and what it can do: communicate from one heart to another.
The Kaleidoscope concert was One heckuva concert full of musical competence, thought, heart and soul.
Another point I could have made - that it LOOKED easy, always a sign of something good and well done, and done from the top down, as well as from the bottom up. That is, a good design and all the individuals --and in this there were a lot of individuals, musicians, stage people, lighting - doing their thing makes for a seamless product that 'works', and the kaleidoscope concert 'worked'.
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