"The American Slave Coast" at Symphony Space
Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill with Cassandra Wilson at the Irish Arts Center

New Music Wrap Up: The Parksville Murders, Vicky Chow, Mivos and Quiet City

Parksvill Murders-002It's been a bit busy this week, so here's a quick rundown of some new and interesting music I experienced at the end of last week.  

The Parksville Murders - Last Thursday, DIY opera heroes Opera on Tap presented a preview of Kamala Sankaram's The Parksville Murders. Billed as "the world's first VR episodic horror opera," visitors were directed to a space near the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO where they were given headphones and a VR headset. Set in a dimly-lit room in the Catskills, the 15 minute opera - promised to be the first of a dozen or so episodes - starred Kacey Cardin as Corinne, who sang while lying in a bathtub filled with dead leaves. Another woman, Sarah, (Mikki Sodergren) soon appeared in the room, as did a group of mysterious, hooded “watchers.” As I sat there watching, I felt a palpable sense of unease as the shadowy figures appeared on all sides, even behind me. And, thanks some cutting edge audio technology from HEAR360, the sound I heard changed depending on where I was looking. A very cool beginning to what will hopefully become an extended evening of immersive opera.

Vicky Chow Roulette-001Vicky Chow at Roulette - From DUMBO, I hightailed it over to Roulette, where Vicky Chow played a solo show of new music that continued her quest to push the boundaries of the piano. The first half consisted of works which Vicky had recently commissioned, including Fjola Evans' mammal, David Brynjar Franszon's the Cartography of Time, and Christopher Cerrone's beautiful, tightly constructed sonata The Arching Path. After pieces by her Bang on a Can Colleagues David Lang and Julia Wolfe, Vicky saved the best for last with Michael Gordon's Sonatra. Saying he was "aiming for somewhere between sonata and Sinatra," Sonatra is a torrent of major and minor thirds, with Vicky's fingers flying up and down the full length of the keyboard. At times, it sounded almost fake, like there were four or more hands playing. Jaw-droppingly extraordinary. 


Mivos Quartet and Quiet City at Spectrum - Finally, on Friday I made my way to Spectrum on the Lower East Side where Mivos played solo works featuring all four members (Lauren Cauley and Jenny Choi, Violins; Victor Lowrie, viola, Mariel Roberts, cell0) along with the premiere of Yvonne Wu's Utterance, winner of the 2015 Mivos/Kanter Prize for string quartet composition. New music collective Quiet City includes three guitarists from the Glenn Branca Ensemble: Luke Schwartz, Arad Evans, and Greg McMullen, each of whom wrote a piece for the evening. Cellist and composer Pat Muchmore, whom I hadn't seen since his Anti-Social Music days, played an excerpt from his new cycle of solo cello pieces written in just intonation.

In between was a set by Iktus Percussion, which I missed while watching the Cubs and Indians at one of the nearby watering holes. Sorry, not sorry...

 IMG_5363More pics of Vicky Chow here; Spectrum here