Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Siren / Ray Lee

I've been poky about posting this, but I'd be remiss if I neglected to do so, because this was one of the coolest performances I'd seen for a long time. Part sound installation, part music performance, part kinetic sculplture.

This show was hosted by Walker Art Center on several dates; I saw the 2 pm show on February 21st for those of you keeping score at home. The performance space was the stage of the McGuire Theater, but the audience was onstage as well, permitted to "promenade" through the area as the show proceeded.

A veritable forest of windmill-type constructions filled the roped-off zone opposite the audience corridors; two performers (one of whom I assume was Mr. Lee) turned on oscillators (?) strapped one to each end of the spinning structures, tuning them by ear and setting them spinning.

The result was probably the most notes I'd ever heard in a single chord, and the sound changed drastically as one moved through the space. Varying melodies emerged and vanished, and the chordal structure evolved slowly. For the last few minutes of the piece, the lights went out and all we could see was a forest of spinning lights in the darkness. Then the performers began turning off the devices, and the sound dissolved into silence again.

Read more about the career of Ray Lee at his web site; see and hear some samples of Siren.

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