This past week marked the 10th edition of the Look and Listen Festival, which sets performances of contemporary music in art gallery spaces. I last visited the festival in 2008, and as I wrote back then, the idea is a good one, giving audience members something to look at other than the musicians - not to mention that the high gallery ceilings offer excellent acoustics.
For the past two years, Look and Listen has been held at the Chelsea Art Museum on W. 22nd St., where the large abstract canvasses of Jean Miotte hang on the walls. Last night's concert, which was hosted by WQXR's Terrance McKnight, offered a variety of sounds from the worlds of jazz, new and electronic music that was both straightforward and stimulating.
Toy pianist Phyllis Chen - well on her way to being the next Margarel Leng Tan - played several works, including her own Colure & Double Helix (which I unfortunately missed.) David Lang's Miracle Ear - named after the hearing aid - was repetitive and subtly maddening, with Chen playing the piano with her right hand while precisely striking a metal bowl with her left. Angelica Negron's quiet and mesmerizing The Little Thing - a world premiere - beautifully blended electronics with various toys, including melodica and toy piano. Really, really affecting, skirting that well-tread line between pop and classical.
The program ended with the jazz-influenced music of John Hollenbeck, written especially for the occasion. Hollenbeck himself sat in on drums with the Claudia Quintet (incl. familiar faces such as Matt Moran and Chris Speed), and was later joined by the hypnotic vocalist Theo Bleckmann who kept repeating the line "Do We Get Love?" with all the remarkable inflection of his mentor, Meredith Monk.
More pics on Flickr.