The TIMARA Student Concert on Wednesday evening was certainly one of the most ambitious concerts presented by the department this year. A large audience was on hand to hear a program of no fewer than 10 pieces, half of which involved live performance. A complex setup on the stage of Warner Concert Hall involved three computers, a piano, video projection equipment, microphones and an array of electronic synthesizers.
The concert got off to an uninspiring start with sophomore Joshua Starmer's work for cello and horn, appropriately entitled "Duet." While the melodies and counterpoint were pleasant enough, the lines seemed a bit aimless. Additionally some intonation problems in the horn were made more obvious through the use of amplification. Starmer's other piece on the concert, "Burning," was far more successful. This expansive work featured senior cellist Jordan Bach, and senior baritone Daryl Yoder, as well as a tape which accompanied the two performers. "Burning" is a setting of a text co-written Starmer and Bach. The use of various vocalizations of the text - singing, whispering and speaking - was one of the most pleasing aspects of the piece. Again, some of the melodies were a bit aimless, however they seemed more suited in this piece as they could be heard in the tradition of monastic plainchant. The tape part and the live players were quite well coordinated in this performance.
Other live works included senior Matt Mascolo on synthesizers and computer with his piece "Alien Encounter." This contrasted regions of ethereal synthetic sounds with contrasting sections of rhythmic percussion grounded with pounding bass beats. "Apprehensions" by junior Christina Agamanolis and sophomore Matthew Green was a live performance of a different sort. Senior Joanna Garfinkel performed a spoken text and this was accompanied by synthesized sounds performed by Green and Agamanolis at the computer. While the synthesized sounds (imitative of plucked strings) as well as the melodic material itself were interesting, they seemed rather arbitrary and unrelated to the spoken words.
The best of the live performance pieces was junior Dan White's "Habbakkuk 1:2-3." White performed at the piano along with junior soprano Nicole Fallen and first-year Peter Swendsen who controlled a synthesizer part. The piano writing and setting of the Biblical text were quite well done. The work was harmonically interesting with generally pleasing phrase structure and the synthesizer melody fit in nicely with the piano and vocal lines. Unfortunately the synthesizer sound itself was a bit dry and unexpressive. Overall White felt good about the performance of this piece. "Peter did an exceptional job on the computer," White said.
Additonally, White contributed a tape piece to the concert. This work entitled "Lamentations," was created using a spoken text which was broken up into tiny fragments. Unlike other pieces on the concert which employed a text, the speech was treated as pure sound, and was fragmented to point where words were no longer recognizable. First-year Jacob Weber also used vocal sounds in his tape piece "Speaking in Tongues." According to the composer's notes, "Finger snapping, tongue clucking and various spoken syllables were recorded and manipulated&hel ... and the result was a variety of percussion sounds." Other tape pieces on the concert included junior Christian A. Oates with his work "So Dan Can't Hear Me" and first-year Matt Gundy's piece "IV."
The concert concluded with a video piece by sophomore Ian Anderson. His "Video Study #1" was full of evocative images. The middle portion, consisting of mainly black and white clips, was one of the most potent sections of the piece. The accompanying music consisted mainly of synthetic string sounds in a quasi-orchestral style. The music was at times effective, at other times just distracting. Overall it was a well- organized composition, and a good integration of video and music.
This concert was most satisfying in that it was a resounding demonstration of the dedicated and industrious work of TIMARA students. It was good to see an exploration of such a wide variety of styles encompasing text based works, tape pieces, live performance, vocal pieces and video. Continued efforts from these composers will undoubtedly result in even better and more interesting works to come.
TIMARA Student Council shows wide variety of styles: The concert incorporated live and taped pieces, audio and video, text-based and vocal performance, to produce an interesting mixture of musical experience. Here Joshua Starmer's work, "Duet," for cello and horn, opens the concert. (photo by Richard Hong)(photo by Richard Hong)
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 23; May 3, 1996
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