Posts Tagged ‘Richard Thompson’

‘Taking Five’ With So Percussion in Idyllwild

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

So Percussion in Idyllwild (from L) Jason, Adam and Eric.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Every So often, you get lucky.

This particular Saturday afternoon, April 29, at 3:15 p.m., band members from the New Music group, So Percussion, were sitting on the steps outside of the IAF Theatre in Idyllwild.

They were “taking five” while the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra and music director Peter Askim were working with guitar legend, Richard Thompson, inside the theater.

It was like finding The Rolling Stones at Starbucks.

Jason Treuting, Josh Quillen, Eric Beach and Adam Sliwinski, were just hours away from the free New Music Concert with the student orchestra, featuring World Premiers of music by Richard Thompson, Chin Yi and Peter Askim, and Jason’s West Coast Premier of “Oblique Music.”

They were hanging out with Jason’s 15-month-old-daughter who had the same bright eyes.

“She likes it when we play,” Jason said. “But it’s hard to tell if she has any musical abilities yet.”

The group of Yale graduates, based out of Brooklyn, are causing a rage in the classical music world.

“The range of colors and voices that So Percussion coaxes from its manergerie is astonishing and entrancing,” claimes Billboard Magazine.

You can look on their web site for more accolades from the New York Times, the Village Voice, and even The Financial Times. We’re lucky that Peter Askim has brought this group to the attention of Idyllwild and folks on the West Coast.

According to their web site, So Percussion plays compositions by John Cage and Steven Reich, as well as their own works.

Jason with his 15-month-old-daughter

John Cage and Steven Reich are two pillars of percussion chamber music. Many of their once radical ideas are now widely accepted as part of America’s experimental classical music tradition. So Percussion has been playing their from the beginning, which also inspires their own original music.

Jason explained how New Music is different from modern music.

“After our concerts, I often talk to people who think that New Music is the same as Pop music,” Jason said. “They listen to Mariah Carey or Lady Gaga and believe it’s the same New Music that we’re playing. It’s not based out of classical music, and that’s a big difference.”

Jason said that he sometimes conducts a Q & A session after their concerts, and asks people what they think of their New Music.

“We ask them if there was anything they heard that they didn’t like,” Jason said. “And there’s this long pause. And then we say, ‘C’mon, there was probably something in the concert that you didn’t like.”

He said that once he gets audience members to admit there’s stuff that they didn’t like about So Percussion’s New Music, then they have a starting point.

(from L) Josh, Jason's daughter and grandma outside Bowman in Idyllwild

“With the onset of Social Media, we are becoming more attuned to our preferences, and don’t venture out of our safety zone,” Jason said. “It’s OK that you don’t like all New Music. You don’t have to like all of it, but the fact that people are open to new experiences is important.”

Sometimes, he said, the classical music fans feel like they have to love New Music or not.

“But it’s OK if they don’t love everything that they hear,” Jason said. “It would be kind of a bummer if all we listened to was things that we really like.”

He said that their repeat performances are always better accepted.

The same thing went with the members of the Idyllwild Ars Student Orchestra.
“At first, it was a little hard to get them to open up,” Jason said. “They hadn’t had much exposure to New Music. But Peter Askim is generating a lot of positive energy about New Music and it’s catching on.”

Jason said they played a little bit before the All School meeting on Friday afternoon, and that helped the orchestra to open up a bit.

“They’re a good group of kids, and I think we cracked the shell a bit,” Jason added. “Afterwards, we were talking and hanging out and it helped break down barriers.”

At the All School concert, So Percussion used a lot of tactile instruments, such as pipes, tin cans and flower pots.

“A lot of people associate us with the popular percussion groups, Stomp and Blue Man Group.” Jason said. “We wanted the orchestra students to see that we’re having fun and that we’re regular musicians just like them.”

Rong, a cello player, said the energy of their practice sessions changed when So Percussion came into town on Thursday night.

“Their energy was so great!” Rong exclaimed. “It was unbelievable!”

Also on the dock Sunday is guitar legend, Richard Thompson. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

So Percussion, Richard Thompson and the student orchestra will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday for their second concert on Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

Advance general admission tickets range from $10 to $20. Prices will be slightly higher at the door. Peter Askim hoped that the concert would be “sold out,” since it’s a fundraiser for the Willam M. Lowman Concert Hall on campus.

“Peter said that we made the LA Times,” Rong said before her orthodontist appointment Thursday. “The paper is saying that people should come see our concert. That’s kind of a big deal.”

The Barnsdall Theatre is a new venue for the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra and their New Music guests.

“The theater was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” stated Adam. “I’ve always liked him as an architect, and I took my first girlfriend to Falling Water in Pennsylvania.”

Jason said that So Percussion has set up a concert two years from now.

“We’ll be playing the music of David Lang,” he said.

Setting up a gig two years out is nothing unusual, he said.

“My wife is also a musician, and we’re always talking about dates years into the future,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get a perspective on the here and now.”

So Percussion, Richard Thompson and the Idyllwild Arts Student Orchestra will be playing at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 at the Barnsdall Theatre, located at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. For tickets, visit It’s My Set at www.itsmyseat.com.

And to listen to selections from So Percussion, visit www.sopercussion.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

Richard Thompson’s ‘Interviews with Ghosts’

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Guitar legend Richard Thompson with string students during "Cabaret of Souls" last year Courtesy photo

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s hard to tell how long singer-songwriter-guitar legend Richard Thompson has been obsessed with ghosts.

Perhaps it started long ago, but it just hit Idyllwild Arts’ radar in November of last year with his “Cabaret of Souls” tour, which began at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

“Cabaret of Souls” is a talent show set in the Underworld (think of it as “American Idol” in Hell).  It’s part theater, part rock opera, featuring the talents of Richard Thompson, Harry Shearer (The Simpsons), Richard’s wife, Judith Owen, Deborah Dobkin, Pete Zorn and strings students  from the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, conducted by Peter Askim.

X-O, a cellist from China, was one of the students who performed “Cabaret of Souls” with Richard Thompson. She and the 11 other students had to wear campy outfits and learn about 30 new songs.

“But it was easy music,” X-O said, shrugging it off.

Stephanie, a violinist from Korea, said that it’s music that she’s never played before.

Stephanie said the music was old fashioned, but fun

“Peter said that it was kind of old-fashioned,” she said. “But I liked it.”

Dorie, a violin player from Bulgaria, had to wear a lacy outfit and a green wig.

“They painted our faces to look like ghosts,” Dorie said. “They wanted us to wear gloves, but it didn’t fit with our string instruments.”

According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, “Richard Thompson has been called the finest rock songwriter after Bob Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.”

“Last year, we helped Richard Thompson out, so this year, he’s helping us out,” said Camille, an oboe player talking about the upcoming New Music Concerts held in Idyllwild and Hollywood.

The Hollywood concert is a fundraiser for the new William M. Lowman Concert Hall, and pre-event tickets (from $10 to $20) are now on sale on the Idyllwild Arts web site, www.idyllwildarts.org.

According to a recent promotional video, Richard said that “Interviews with Ghosts” is a short song cycle or song suite of three chamber orchestra pieces.

“It’s based on supposed transcriptions from ghosts talking to each other,” Richard said. “Depending upon if you think they exist or even talk to each other.”

Then Richard said he adapted these ghost transcripts a little bit, adding rhymes and worked with the orchestra. For the past several weeks, classical music students have been playing Richard’s New Music pieces. He will be singing and playing guitar along with the student orchestra.
Jo, a bass player, said it sounds a lot like Rock n’ Roll.

Will “Interviews with Ghosts” be like talking to Jacob Marley from “A Christmas Carol,” where he complains about the chain, the cold and the loneliness of walking through doors? Will there be a message in Richard’s piece about transforming our miserly ways? Will there be jokes about God, the devil and not being able to take our cash with us?

Time Out has called Richard Thompson’s performances, “Riveting, enlightening, witty, moving, provocative and entertaining – strongly recommended.”

Will the students have to dress up for "Interviews with Ghosts?"

Expect nothing less than fabulous with Richard Thompson’s “Interviews with Ghosts.” If anything, you’ll get the rare opportunity to hear one of the Top 20 best guitar players of all time play with our student orchestra on April 28 in Idyllwild and on April 29 in Hollywood.

Besides Richard Thompson, Chen Yi will be performing “Tone Poem,” a piece commissioned by the student orchestra and three composers from So Orchestra will be performing individual works, including “Oblique Music” by Jason Tretuing, “Credo in US” by John Cage and “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by Steve Reich.

Also on the docket is Peter’s brand-new piece, “Elsewhere.”

The first New Music Concert will be Saturday, April 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sunday, April 29 fundraiser concert will be held at 4 p.m. at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. For tickets, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, or contact www.itsmyseat.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

New Music: Dramatic Shift for Students

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Orchestra students (file photo) have mixed feelings about New Music

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Students from the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra will take a dramatic shift from their classical music repertoire to New Music for their next concerts on April 28-29. Some of them like New Music because it’s so different, while others don’t like it as much.

“We don’t just listen to songs written by dead people,” chided Peter Askim, music director and composer-in-residence at Idyllwild Arts (see New Music post on Idyllwild Me dated May 7, 2010).

He’s used to their resistance.

“When I told Peter that I didn’t like New Music, he said that it was because I didn’t understand it,” said Rong, a cello player.

“I like it because it tells a story,” said Meng, a double bass player, from Beijing, who also plays the cello and piano. “But it can be hard to play sometimes.”

Meng, a double bass player, says New Music tells a story

Mostly because there’s no CDs they can listen to, and it’s not posted on You Tube.

Rong said that this next concert is particularly hard for the three percussionists. Dixin, a violin player, agreed.

“They have to play so many instruments,” Dixin said. “It’s really amazing!”

For the New Music concerts each year, Peter also helps promote the new works by emerging and established composers. Richard Thompson, voted among the Top 20 best guitarists by Rolling Stone magazine, will be performing “Interviews with Ghosts” on his guitar.

Also Chen Yi will be performing “Tone Poem,” a piece commissioned by the student orchestra and the Richard P. Wilson Fund for New Music.

Three composers from So Orchestra will be performing individual works, including “Oblique Music” by Jason Tretuing, “Credo in US” by John Cage and “Music for Pieces of Wood,” by Steve Reich.

Also on the docket is Peter’s brand-new piece, “Elsewhere.”

Dixin said Peter Askim's "Elsewhere" is kind of quiet and slow

“It’s kind of quiet and slow,” explained Dixin. “But I like it.”

Andrew Leeson, a staff member in Creative Writing, has called Peter “The Master of the Dramatic Pause.” (See “Askim’s New Music Revealed” on  Idyllwild Me posted Nov. 11, 2011).

Jo, another bass player, said that the New Music they’re performing with Richard Thompson sound more like Rock n’ Roll.

“He was knighted, you know,” she said.

Many in Idyllwild may remember Thompson’s “Cabaret of Souls” that was performed with the Idyllwild Arts Orchestra last year.

The New Music concerts will be held on Saturday, April 28 at the IAF Theatre on campus and on Sunday, April 29, at 4 p.m. in The Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood. The Idyllwild concert is free and open to the public, while the LA concert is a fundraiser and Pre-sale tickets range from $1o to $20, and a little more on the show day.

For tickets, visit www.bgttix.com or call (323) 644-6272. For Pre-Sale tickets and more details on the New Music concert, visit www.idyllwildarts.org. There are several videos of Richard Thompson singing and playing his guitar, including one from 1952.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.