New Music New College continues to deepen the conversation about new music in our community. The program’s 15th season opened with the Brooklyn-based NOW Ensemble returning after its acclaimed performance in 2009.
The five musicians — Alexandra Sopp, flute; Agnes Marchione, clarinet; Logan Coale, double bass; Mark Dancigers, electric guitar; and Aaron Wunsch, piano — performed in all six works, revealing remarkable powers of concentration and endurance.
“All Together NOW,” a 2005 composition by Patrick Burke, is a mainstay of the group’s repertoire. Varying and interlocking rhythms, most often in repetitive loops, created a texture that seemed like the aural companion to a pointillist painting by Georges Seurat.
“Pale as Centuries,” Sarah Kirkland Snider's 2011 composition, shared many characteristics with the previous work, with little to make it stand out.
Two compositions by Judd Greenstein, “Change” (2009) and “City Boy” (2011) offered more variation, and hints of melodic patterns. The jazz and rock influences added appreciated color to the landscape.
The world premiere of Mark Danciger’s “Dreamfall” was performed in collaboration with the contemporary dance artists of Fuzión. Artistic director Laymis Bolaños Wilmott co-choreographed the work with Xiao-Xuan Yang Dancigers, who also performed a lead role with Hannah Jordan, Molly Nichols, Wendy Rucci and Mary Richardson.
Divided into three movements, the music of “Dreamfall” lent itself to contemporary storytelling with a natural flow of tension and release. The flowing, melodic use of the instruments inspired thought-provoking choreography.
The nature of the music on this program, is that there is no clear story, message or mood. There is no final answer or point to the music, other than the listener’s journey and inner struggle for meaning. In “Dreamfall,” we benefited from the choreographers and dancers playing out that journey in movement with satisfying results.
Dancers entered from the aisles in silence, pausing, bending and reaching. As the first movement commenced dancers interacted with the ensemble on stage as they fell into their dreamspace. The physical falling and propulsion across stage, together and singly, were key elements of this movement.
As the music and dance progressed to the end of the work, movement evoked images of being wrapped in dream sequences with the use of a scrim of white silk hiding the source of handprints and bodies emerging under and over the barrier. Dancers wrestled with a long net scarf that at times enveloped their entire head, much as a disturbing dream would. At last, the dancers emerged from their dream and became more present to the music than at the beginning. We were left with an image of Yang Dancigers stepping back up the aisle leaving her companions on stage, perhaps like characters in her own dream.
There was much to absorb. Musicians and dancers in “Dreamfall” deserved the ovations given by the enthusiastic audience, as well as an opportunity to bring this performance to the public again. Only time will tell if there is more to mine from this experience.
NOW Ensemble with Fuzión Dance Artists. Presented by New Music New College, Reviewed Sept. 20. Sainer Auditorium. newmusicnewcollege.org