Unruly Music Festival: Night Three (April 18, 2015)
A review by UWM Music student, Aidan Menuge
This season of Unruly concluded tonight with a performance of bassoonist and electronic performer Katherine Young’s piece Diligence is to Magic as Progress is to Flight in collaboration with violinist and violist J. Austin Wulliman. The hour-long, multi-movement piece comprised the entire program for the evening, and what an evening it was!
The piece began with Katherine Young at her laptop and an extended electronic introduction, the material seemingly derived from recordings of Wulliman performing on his violin. The visceral sounds of wood and string surrounded and whirled about the audience, as though the listener were almost inside a violin itself.
Wulliman’s entrance onto the stage signaled the next section, and the electronics combined with his performance on an amplified violin. Timbres and gestures crossed from the digital world into the acoustic and back again, and the sounds chosen seemed to suggest the slow emergence of the violin from the electronics, with whispered gestures and slow, pressured bowings.
This form seemed to continue through the next movement as Wulliman moved to another violin and performed a flurry of staccato phrases. This was followed by a change to the viola underscored by brief, interjecting drum strikes from Katherine Young and the electronics. It seemed as though the strings had overtaken, and the electronics were set fade away into nothingness.
A bassoon and violin duet followed, with the only electronics coming from Katherine Young’s effect pedals on the bassoon and the amplification of the violin. Airy bowings and breathy tones allowed timbres to flow from one instrument to the other, and the listener’s attention was constantly torn between the two performers.
The electronics then began to return, at first through a projected film and then with gestures much like those that began the piece. They had not been removed, but continued to thrive alongside the violin as the piece came to an end.
Summarizing such an expansive work invariable leaves something out, but what I have described above was the exciting unfolding I experienced as a listener at this semester’s exceptional finale to the Unruly Music Festival.