Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recording: Spectrum

Artist: Spectrum Music [Homzy/Kesler Duo feat. Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras]

Song: The Seafarers [excerpt] (Composer: Shannon Graham)

Recorded at The Annex Theatre ("Atlas of Imaginary Places"), January 24, 2014.

Spectrum Music - The Seafarers [excerpt]

Full review to follow. Rather than just throwing some pieces together and calling it a concert, Spectrum does an admirable job of shaping their events around thoughtful concepts, and then composing new pieces to bring them to life. Their "Atlas of Imaginary Places" began as an opportunity to give violist Aline Homzy and pianist Andrew Kesler a chance to debut their expansive "Dragon Suite" (thirty minutes, played without sheet music!) and from there the Spectrum composers crafted some new pieces for the duo to play. They were joined throughout the evening by Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras, two of the most amazing voices in town.

This piece by Shannon Graham is inspired by the board game Settlers of Catan, and standing on the balconies above the room, the vocalists act as the capricious Fates manipulating the efforts of those in the world below. Like a lot of Graham's compositions, it evinces a guardedly cautious sort of optimism, hopeful (but never quite convinced) that we will be able to complete our journeys.

It should be added that the Annex Theatre (where I'd never been before) was a definite selling point here — a large space, yet close in enough to be rather cozy, it felt like the ballroom of a haunted mansion, from the ornate stairways behind the stage to the giant chandeliers to the occasional mysterious creaking noise in the background. You can check it out for yourself on April 17th, when Spectrum wraps up its season with Early Expressions, which promises "contemporary musical interpretations of early human art".

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