SHOW: A Change of Harp
GENRE: Music/dance/performance art/projection
GROUP: Elizabeth Morgan-Ellis
ATTENDED: Sat., Sept. 14, 8 p.m., Maas Building
CLOSED: Sat., Sept. 14
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: "This collaborative program of live harp music by living Philadelphian composers is accompanied by a mixed-media visual show that allows audiences to see into the creative mind’s eye. Projection, dance, performance art: it has it all."
WE THINK: What a pity A Change of Harp had such a short run in a tiny space. The Maas Building's intimate space served the multimedia aspects well, but potential audience members were turned away closing night. Elizabeth Morgan-Ellis is a superb harpist who graciously shares the spotlight. According to the chatter in the room during intermission, her collaborations introduced new art forms to many.
The intention of exposing Philadelphia composers was well-served, the music anything but predictable and impeccably played. Videos of composers speaking of their lives and introducing their work is a solid concept, but apparently underfunded. What a cruel contrast of crisp playing versus unintelligible speech. By the time we got to Andrea Clearfield's inaudible remarks, I was not the only one checking Facebook, wishing it would end soon. That's a pity: Her "Rhapsody" was performed to perfection by a quintet with a projection accompaniment that amplified Clearfield's remarks about synesthesia.
My highest compliments to the dancers, Joshua Anderson and Jessie Young. Each choreographed a piece giving their amplification of the composer's stated intentions. Anderson chose to explore the five stages of grief as his solo take on Sweet Blues. His emotions were so heart poundingly intense, the suggesting a very bad drug trip. There was no looking away.
The evening closed with an electro-acoustic work by the youngest composer, Temple's Anne Neikirk, who indulged her fondness for trains to include processed train sounds (electro) to interplay with the harp (acoustic). Shadow-puppet old-time trains appeared and vanished like lucid dreams. Dreams also seemed a part of Jan Kryzwicki's "Starscape," dyspeptic and disturbing dreams at times, in contrast to sweetly sleepy stars projected above. Perhaps most disturbing was the dance, choreographed by Jessie Young to Kati Agocs' "Every Lover is a Warrior." No spoilers here, wait for the revival with the sure knowledge that harps are not reserved for the heavenly choir.
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