Exploring the crossroads of music, dance and film, the modern music ensemble Intersection lives up to its name
By JOHN PITCHER
Intersection's debut program, aptly called "Transfiguration," will adopt exactly that kind of multidisciplinary approach. The city's new, red-hot contemporary dance company New Dialect will join the ensemble to perform two works on the program — Gubaidulina's Concordanza and Ned Rorem's 11 Studies for 11 Players. Nashville's cutting-edge Zeitgeist Gallery, meanwhile, will provide video projections to accompany Jonathan Harvey's Valley of Aosta and Sean Shepherd's Metamorphosis.
A former protégé of Shostakovich, Gubaidulina is one of the most influential Russian composers of the past 50 years. "She always wrote whatever she wanted, which wasn't always popular in the former Soviet Union," says Corcoran. In Concordanza, the wind players briefly play a pitch in unison that quickly dissipates in all directions. Fidgety bass notes then take over the score to accompany darting, trilling clarinet notes.
Banning Bouldin, New Dialect's artistic director, wrote in her program note that the music reminded her of the "murmurations of starlings — hundreds of creatures taking flight to form liquid-like masses that morph in shape and size as they travel in near-perfect harmony." Her choreography will suggest the quicksilver movements of these birds.
Pulitzer Prize winner Ned Rorem, now in his early 90s, is widely regarded as America's foremost composer of classical songs. It's perhaps not surprising that as a tunesmith, he holds such practitioners of modern serial technique as Boulez and Milton Babbitt in low regard — he's been known to refer to them as "serial killers of music." Despite its seemingly functional title, his 11 Studies for 11 Players is the most lyrical work on the program. New Dialect will accompany Rorem's music with a dance called B-Side (Kill Your Darlings), a collection of Banning's favorite dance passages (darlings) that were edited (killed) from recent works.
The most audacious works on Thursday's program are likely to be the videos created by Matthew Kinney and Kay Kennedy. Their imaginative works are designed to respond to the music in real time, changing patterns as the music becomes faster or louder. "The images they've taken for the videos are pretty amazing," says Lain York, the gallery director at Zeitgeist. "At one point, they went so far as dropping their camera in a pot of boiling water to get the desired effect."
Those kinds of techniques are probably necessary to suggest the emotions in Harvey's Valley of Aosta, where melody is pulverized in a violent storm of virtuosic energy. A gentler approach is needed to convey the meaning of Shepherd's Metamorphosis, a series of miniatures inspired by Anton Webern's graceful sense of color and gesture.
The only piece on Intersection's program that will not be accompanied by video or dance is Pärt's Fratres for Chamber Ensemble. Corcoran believes the great Estonian composer needs little help to get his message across.
"Pärt's music is simple, beautiful and meditative," says Corcoran. "That's why his works are performed more than any other living composer, and that's why his music is so beloved."