March 19, 2011 10:50:53 PM EDT
3/18/11 Tully performance
Orchestra qua Theater. But why? It is (they’re) the medium, not the message. I have a feeling that he’s spinning his wheels waiting for a suitable text or libretto to come along. His wheels are well oiled. The Surrogate Cities raised that question most. But in the G. Stein, it was so over-the-top all the time. But the Stein is so intentionally flat. A mismatch spiritually. Still, along with cantorial music samples, he is associating himself with Jews, and with lesbians. Well inoculated. I thank him for that.
He doesn’t need more than an acoustically thin “broken consort” (or the Schoenberg kammersymphonie/radio orchestra) sized orchestra because he adds a mesmerizing layer of sampled invariably THICK drone-ish, or rhythmic texture which distances and interprets the chamber orchestra’s sounds. These drones and samples become electronic hooks themselves—that’s possible now, ever since techno, and before that, electronic music and radio. H.G. has beautiful white hair and a large frame dressed in musician’s black. I complimented him on giving new life to the “broken consort” (he even had a theorbo in the mix). At first he looked puzzled, but then got it, and thanked me for coming.
The chamber orchestra is being re-contextualized with lighting and concrete sounds. And you hear right away not to focus on the instrumental orchestration, melody, etc. But what are all the bells and whistles focusing you on? They were beautiful bells and whistles. The new Tully sound system and lighting were spectacular. So resources count. At times I thought of it as an “uptown Richard Foreman.” Instead of a mad cacophony of actual bells and whistles in Foreman, we had smooth, elegant textures of fabulous instrumentalists doing difficult imaginative music. Flashing lights and breathtaking cuts.