Hypercube at the DiMenna Center

Hybercube DiMenna Center - 1 (1)(Photo: Michael Yu)

Sometimes, when I look through all of the new music listings in NYC, it's honestly hard to tell one group from the next. And, with most of the music on the program being, well, new, it's hard to know what to expect, unless they're playing something by Reich, Glass, Wolfe, or some other well-known composer of an older generation. 

But, Hypercube, who performed last Tuesday night at the DiMenna Center, piqued my interest. And, telling from the packed house, that of many others as well (including familiar faces like Elliott Sharp and Tristan Perich.) Part of what interested me was the NYC-based quartet's unusual lineup of saxophone (Erin Rogers), electric guitar (Jay Sorce), accordion/piano/synth (Andrea Lodge) and percussion (Chris Graham). 

Hypercube (named after a geometric shape) performed in the round, switching sides every so often to give everyone a good view. They started with Rogers' own composition, Casino (Remix), which sounded like some sort of Hunter S. Thompson nightmare, with Rogers' tenor sax mimicking the intoxicating chorus of slot machines while Sorce's guitar screeched like someone had set off the fire alarm. 

Nicholas Deyoe's they solidify then tilt veered between atmospheric and anxious, inspired by Alison Carter's poem in which she tries to make out the contents of her bedroom in the dark. Sorce played his guitar with partially open strings, creating a tense, glissandi-filled sound. 

Hybercube DiMenna Center - 6
(Photo: Michael Yu)

The main course for the evening was Eric Wubbels' Voided Cross, a 45 minute electro-acoustic work inspired by the contemporary land artist/provocateur Michael Heizer. The titles of the four movements give some sense of the work's harsh, industrial vibe: 

  1. unconscious, volatile
  2. mechanistic, inorganic, harsh
  3. respiratory, hypnotic, flexible
  4. relentless, clangorous

I should have been tipped off by the earplugs I was handed when I walked in, but Wubbels' gets LOUD, like an organ with all of the stops out. It was dark, intense, often veering dangerously close to noise before pulling back to some surprisingly lyrical moments. Hypercube, who commissioned the work from Wubbels, played with precise, emphatic skill, whether it was Lodge's squealing accordion, Sorce's high pitched drone, Graham's bowed vibes, or Rogers - when she wasn't wailing away on her tenor - using a microphone to create short bursts of feedback. The piece climaxed with what sounded like a slowly approaching train, building to a deafening crescendo that gave way to a quiet fade-away ending. Wubbels and Hypercube received an extended, well-deserved ovation - with lots of "Whoo!"s of course.

Hybercube DiMenna Center - 8
More pics on the photo page

A Quick Visit to The Ring at The Met

Met Opera Die Walküre - 32After Tuesday's NY Phil concert with Semyon Bychkov leading the U.S. Premiere of Thomas Larcher's colorful, surprisingly tonal Symphony No. 2 "Kenotaph", I took a chance and walked across Lincoln Center Plaza to the Met, just as Die Walküre, the second installment of Richard Wagner's monumental opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen - was letting out for its second intermission.

Sure enough, a patron who had had enough for one night - Die Walküre runs five hours, not including curtain calls - offered me her ticket in the Grand Tier, which is how I got to see all of Act 3: the Ride of the Valkyries, the long duet between Wotan and Brünnhilde, the Magic Fire music. As I said when the Met last staged the Ring in 2012, this Robert Lepage production - and it's 40 ton machine - is a bit hit-and-miss, but the music, as performed by the mighty Met Orchestra under the brilliant conductor Philippe Jordan, is breathtaking. (Jordan is currently Music Director of two of the biggest opera houses in the world: the Paris Opera and the Vienna State Opera.) As for the singers, home grown soprano Christine Goerke is a force of nature as Brünnhilde, her voice easily carrying over the orchestra. Bass Michael Volle is a menacing, almost terrifying Wotan, while soprano Eva Maria Westrbroek fortified her position as the world's leading Sieglinde. 

Tickets for the remainder of this cycle, as well as cycle 3 next week, are all gone, but you can take your chances at the box office on returns. Or, maybe just show up a few hours late and hold up a finger. You'll be glad you did. 

Video preview here. More pics below and on the photo page.

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Ticket Giveaway: HYPERCUBE at the DiMenna Center on May 7

Hypercube
NYC-based new music ensemble HYPERCUBE has built a reputation for high-energy performances using the somewhat unusual combination of instruments: saxophone, acoustic/electric guitar, piano/accordion, and percussion. Next Tuesday, May 7, they'll be at the DiMenna Center with a program including the U.S. premiere of Eric Wubbels' major new work Voided Cross (for Michael Heizer), they solidify then tilt by Nicholas Deyoe, and Erin Rogers' (who also plays saxophone in the group) Casino (Remix) . Tickets are $10 and available here
 
We have two pairs of tickets to give away! Here's how to enter:

1. Email Pete@feastofmusic.com with your name and preferred date  -OR-

2. Retweet our post with the hashtag #freetickets   

Good luck!


A Thousand Thoughts: Kronos Quartet with Sam Green at The Town Hall

"The string quartet repertoire was probably changed more by (Kronos Quartet) than by any other group." - Philip Glass

WSHB1522-by-Waleed-ShahWhat is a string quartet? That seems to have been the essential question on Sam Green and Joe Bini's mind when they set out to make the documentary film A Thousand Thoughts, about the pioneering, peerless Kronos Quartet. The film, which received its New York premiere last night at The Town Hall, reminds us how Kronos has spent the past half-century upending just about every convention associated with the string quartet. Instead of tuxedos or concert black, they've typically worn the colorful, trendy outfits of a rock band (though they've toned it down considerably in recent years.) Instead of being marooned to classical radio or stuffy recital halls, they appeared on Sesame Street and at experimental music festivals. And, instead of playing the core repertoire by Haydn, Beethoven or Schubert, Kronos almost exclusively plays music by living composers, with more than 1,000 commissions to date, including their ongoing Fifty for the Future project with Carnegie Hall. 

When Green pitched the project to Kronos founder and Artistic Director David Harrington (whom I met at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville four years ago) he called it a "live documentary", in which Kronos would perform live and Green would provide running commentary to the film. (Green's other projects include The Love Song of R Buckminster Fuller, featuring live accompaniment by Yo La Tengo.) Harrington signed on immediately; Thursday's performance was the 18th since the film's premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018. 

Green was given full access to Kronos' extensive archives, housed in their San Francisco rehearsal studio, and the film is largely a pastiche of his never-before-seen findings: video and audio recordings, photographs, old clippings of reviews (yikes!). It also includes interviews with composers, managers, musicians - and, of course, the four members of Kronos: Harrington, John Sherba (violin), Hank Dutt (viola), and Sunny Yang (cello).

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