Up-close and personal

How sweet and heavenly the harps and lutes are of our ecclesiastic pasts, yet how ironic that composers often employ string instruments for the most brutal of affects. Not shower-approved tunage… From the primitive chunks of Stravinksy’s Le Sacre du printemps to Kubrick and Hitchcock’s obsession with the scintillating screeches of hair on metal, strings have primed us to every boogie monster and psycho killer… Qu’est-ce que c’est?

As we watch the boundaries in art decompose (like the old white men who made them), delightful results ensue. Take for example the 2012 Grawemeyer award-winning composition/performance piece Up-close for cello, string ensemble and film. Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, resident composer for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, created the piece for cellist Sol Gabetta and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.

The result is something more and less than a musical score or film accompaniment. I have so many questions! Is the work the DVD? Can the composition be heard apart from the acted story? Does the piece tell a tale or is it simply meant to interact with the visuals? Watch the trailer below to decide.

Van der Aa is apparently no neophyte when it comes to multimedia perforamnce having himself studied film and theater at the New York Film Academy and the Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab. I’m excited for his next project from the description alone: an occult-mystery 3D film opera, “Sunken Garden,” in collaboration with English novelist David Mitchell.

P.S. Sorry for being in absentia for the past month. I have some things percolating that will interest my three or four non-familial readers.

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