Saturday, September 19, 2015

Recording: Music in the Barns with #1000Strings

Artist: Music in the Barns with #1000Strings

Song: Spectre [composer: John Oswald]

Recorded at Yonge-Dundas Square (Intersection 2015), September 5, 2015.

Music in the Barns with #1000Strings - Spectre

You can read my general notes on the festival here. This piece for "string quartet and string multitude" was originally composed by John Oswald to be played by the Kronos Quartet and accompanied by a backing track of overdubbed layers upon layers of strings augmenting the live performance. For this "one time only participatory performance", Music in The Barns turned to the community to crowdsource a multitude — there weren't a thousand string players on hand, but all corners of the square felt quite full with groupings of violins, violas, cellos and basses, with a wonderful mix of ages and skill levels playing next to each other. Under the guidance of group leaders and timekeepers, the assembled throng did a couple runthroughs of the piece (which mostly stayed on A, moving from a single note to tremolo and then increasingly-wider glissandi). Standing in the middle of it all created quite a surround-sound experience, which is hard to reproduce here — as is the visual experience of seeing the mass of players slowly lift their bows from the strings to bow the air above them. As with the original performance, this included the use of the backing track, so the large numbers sound even more immense here. The loudest section sounds like a cloud of white noise — and a bit like a more genteel version of what Knurl unveiled in the square earlier in the day.

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