Thursday, February 25, 2010

New music, old music, lots of books, some art and dance

Concert gives an electrifying musical experience

The Southern Exposure new music series can take many guises:  Chinese lute players, contemporary chamber music, solo piano, opera. One concert is always devoted to electronic music and it goes by the catchy and slightly dangerous sounding name Exposed Wiring.

This concert is organized by Reg Bain, a composer who runs the experimental music lab at USC. The concert started as a showcase for student, but since last year has turned things up a bit.
“We wanted to elevate the computer music concert to a professional level and bring in performers with a national and world-wide reputation,” Bain said.
The next concert taking place Saturday features Odd Appetite, a cello and percussion duo, and soprano saxophone player Susan Fancher. Both combine acoustic instruments and electronics.
The New York-based Odd Appetite consists of cellist Ha-Yang Kim and percussionist Nathan Davis, who are trained in classical and contemporary music and also compose. They’ll play “Cant” by Matt Tierney, “Oon” by Ha-Yang Kim and other works in various configurations combining live performance with electronic enhancements and computer-processed sounds.
The group has been together for a decade and met performing Handel’s “Messiah” in New Hampshire.
“Both of us were practicing odd contemporary music during the breaks in rehearsals,” Davis said. “Everyone else was getting coffee.
“We are kind of zealots. We try to live and breathe the music. The repertoire is the identity of the group.”
Because of the unusual cello/percussion combination, most of the works Odd Appretite plays are written specifically for it.
The 14-minute “Cant” is “a real tour de force,” Davis said. “The composer is a long-time friend and he wrote this fantastic piece for a song. We’ve played it dozens of times all over the world.”
And for those with more mainstream tastes the group,  which has performed in Indonesia, Turkey Russia and Cuba, will do its version of Radiohead’s “Like Spinning Plates.”

Fancher (left) is coming to Columbia to play just one piece – Bain’s “Jovian Images.” It is based upon photographic images of planets the composer transformed into audio data.
“It’s a beautiful piece,” said Fancher, who has known Bain since the two were students at Northwestern University. Fancher, who teaches at Duke University, commissioned him to write it for a CD she released last year. In the work, she plays saxophone live with some computer-processed sounds. Because it calls for improvisation the work is different each time.
The concert is at 7:30 at the USC music school. Free, but it fills up fast. Davis will give a talk at the USC music school Friday at 2:30.
Call (803) 777-4280.

And what else
I can hardly believe it, but things have slowed a little. Several events are ongoing – “Always … Patsy Cline” at Town Theatre, “Crowns” at Trustus, “Arabian Nights” at Theatre South Carolina, exhibitions by Anna Redwine and Laura Spong at Gallery 80808 and John Drews at Compass 5.
If you’re anything like me you’ll spend a good chunk of the weekend at the S.C. Book Festival. Along with all the readings and panels, there will be a couple of concerts and films and even an art show.
Also – this is going to be a black and white weekend.

Thursday, Feb. 25
Catching up with art
Several art shows recently opened, one of which I mentioned several weeks ago and one I didn’t find out about until the day before it opened.
“Color Vision” at the Columbia Museum of Art augments the traveling show “The Chemistry of Color.” It’s a small show, consisting of a dozen works on paper by African-American artists in the museum collection including Lorna Simpson, (right) William Henry Johnson and Willie Cole. The show is up through May 30. 

A show at the museum that slipped through the cracks is “Skate and Create” the annual exhibition showcasing the talents of (get ready) skateboarders. The show consists of a lot of customized boards (without wheels) and it is really good. Through March 21.
(803) 799-2810.
"ABC : Acorn, Blair, Callahan” at Columbia College is made up of paintings, drawing, monotype prints, sculptures and a few more things by Pat Callahan of Columbia, John Acorn of Pendleton and Carl Blair of Greenville.
Callahan is a designer for USC Press who does figurative drawings, but most recently has shown shallow boxes filled with little drawings and found object sculptures. Acorn was long-time chairman of the Clemson University art department who creates wood and metal sculptures. (left) Blair taught at Bob Jones University for many years and does landscape-inspired paintings. Through March 20 and at 1301 Columbia College Drive. (803) 786-3088.
Flute and viola  
Violist Constance Gee, flautist Jennifer Parker-Harley and pianist Lynn Kompass join forces for concert. They’ll play “Romance pour flute et piano” by  Phillipe Gaubert; “Faith and Hope” by Carl Nielsen; “Elegie” by Igor Stravinsky; “Duo pour Flute et Alto” by Edison Denisov; and “Prelude, Recitatif et Variations, op. 3 by” Maurice Durufle. The 7:30 concert at the USC School of Music, where the three teach.  (803) 777-4280.

Emerging playwrights
Take a look and listen to the young talent at the USC theater department. The plays “Interruptions” by Steven Kopp and “Ralph and Mary” by William Renken will be performed tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. You’ll find them at the USC Lab Theatre on Wheat Street between Sumter and Pickens. $5. (803) 777-4266.

Saturday, Feb. 27
Lots of books and writers and even some art
Frankly, it’s a little hard to know where to start writing about the S.C. Book Festival. You can wander around the big hall and see what people are selling; line up to have you books signed by writers; go to panels on women writers, hanging tough as a writer, mysteries, writing for young people, writing about food; see an exhibition by South Carolina artists; hear a gospel group sing and so on and so on. (See last Sunday’s posting for more about the art and music.)
The keynote speaker is John Hart, (left) a North Carolina author of three novels (he replaces Rick Bragg who canceled due to an illness.) Among the other notables are Ron Rash, a native of South Carolina who has moved successfully from poetry to novels; Jon Tuttle (a professor at Francis Marion College) who has had several plays produced at Trustus and elsewhere; food writers and Charleston native Ted and Matt Lee; and big seller Dorothea Benton Frank.

You will be hard pressed to get to everything worth going to, but give it a try.
The festival is at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center at Senate and Lincoln streets (That’s one block about two blocks southwest of the Capitol.) It runs 9 to 5:30 Saturday and 11:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
For details go to

Food and music from Italy
“An Evening in Italy” at 7 p.m. is a fund raiser for The Palmetto Opera and provides those who ante up the $75 ticket price with food, drink and songs – in Italian of course.
For tickets call (803) 776-0526 or 315-8866. 

Sunday, Feb. 28
New dance redux
The S.C. Contemporary Dance Company is back at the Columbia Museum of Art doing what it did last week – a piece inspired by the artist Alvin Loving’s “Midtown” series of jazzy painted cutouts that are part of “The Chemistry of Color” at the Museum. The piece was choreographed by company director Miriam Barbosa, with original music by John Valerio of the USC music school. 3 p.m. Admission is $10 or $8 for museum members. or (803) 799-2810.

Tuesday, March 2
The contemporary sax
French saxophonists Jean-Michel Goury brings his award-winning playing to USC.  Goury performs a great deal of contemporary music and will do so at the 7:30 concert at the USC School of Music. He’s a champion of new works and has recorded pieces, many written for him, by Aperghis, Berio, Boudreau, Lauba, Goto, Gabriele, Seffer, Bedrossian, Sauguet, Levaillant, Rossé, Rolin, Carlosema, Karlins, Gubler, Kuehn, Mintche, Pavlenko, Savouret, Schilling, Jakubroski, Giner, Lemay, Schrude, Isaksson, Buen, Knüssel, Zimmerlin, Wissberg, Sciarrino, Dulat, Fournier, and Minamikawa. You’re gonna have to look up what they are yourself. (803) 777-4280.

Wednesday, March 3
Life is still a cabaret
Cait Doyle got Manhattan's Best Cabaret Performer prize in 2008. You can find out why why when she performs tonight at Trustus. The Columbia Alternacirque opens with belly dancing, fire eating and so on. (803) 254-9732

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