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March 21, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-03-21

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ela Fleck and the Flecktones
he explosive "hlu-hop" quarter featur-
ing bass god Victor Wooten plays the
Hill Auditorium tonight. 7:30 p.m.
michigandaily.com/arts

MxMdftmi)gu
ARTS

WEDNESDAY
MARCH 21, 2001

Computer art, opera, rhythm
beats collaborate in 'vidGod'

By Laura Deneau
Daily arts Writer
ft's the modern opera, multi-media,
'dvstopian drama premiere of "vidGod."
#'a great collaborative work between
-staff and students of the music, art and
Cnineering schools. It's conceptual

vidGod
"Media Union
Video Studio
March 22-24, 8 p.m.

desirgn... it's
something I can't
name with a
noun because it's
so neat and new.
"vidGod" is a
new operatic
work with stag-
ing and book by
Art Professor
Michael Rode-
mer and music
by Music Profes-
sor Stephen
Rush, that will
premier in the
Video Studio at

served as the backdrop of the set. In chimes; a
front of the screen lay a sparse land- a saw; co
scape of wheel chairs, milk cartons, lift- rhythm be
ing crates and bags strewn about that and break
constituted the playing area. Behind the sometimr
screen a table of electronic equipment things at h
projected images onto the screen. Com- Rodem
puterized figures danced across the bot- veillancet
tom of the screen, while icons of hand the roomz
tools and one large triangle with an eye played on
at the center occupied the top. In front next to the
of the set and screen sat a row of chairs, "We're
behind the chairs along the back wall hand imp
technicians occupied a control station, but also t
with computers and hardware as they views of t
worked with the images on screen. To .way you'
their left, curving around the back wall from the
sat the band. front," Ro
The ten (or 11) piece band included As the
lots of boys who played synthesizers, costume
samplers, turntables, keyboard, anmpli- scarves, tI
fled trashcans, hubcaps, break drums, took shape
electric guitars and a cello. On time and to, the see
in tune they started to play at conductor not-so-dis
Stephen Rush's ready. The sounds were populate a
beautiful. veillancec
In the first piece, noise stretched out citizens;v
and climbed above a modulating becomec
tempo. The second piece got lighter, an meaning.I
organ sound played with a bass beat, acters, a ci
and other noises entered in. The third Nut orga
piece danced like frantic objects in a surveillan
pocket: buzzing dental tools; wind- the place<
InconspiCUOUS
By Johnny Uhl
Daily Arts WriterM

hollow tube; a whistling boat;
w bells. The last song was a
eat out of hubcaps, trashcans
drums, "like street people do
es when they're beating on
hand," Rodemer said.
er also pointed out five sur-
cameras that taped images of
and set space, which were dis-
four TV monitors mounted
e screen.
using these to give a first
ression of video surveillance
o give the audience different
the performers on stage. This
II be able to see the singers
side as well as the back and
demer said.
actors appeared on the set,
d in long dirty coats and
he mood of a dystopian story
e. Following Rodemer's libret-
ene conjures up a future in a
tant situation. Street people
city that employs video sur-
cameras to keep an eye on its
within this world the people
desperate and hungry for
From among the street char-
rarismatic man called Charis-
anizes a cult around the
ce cameras, which have taken
of conscience. This takeover
musicia:

Arena hosts
love and sex
of 'Closer'
By Marie Bernard
Daily Arts Writer
They're gonna talk about sex, they re
gonna talk about love, they're gonna
betray, seduce and swear like sailors.
Patrick Marber's "Closer," a tangled tale
of two men and two women and the
eroticism between them, will be present-

Closer
Arena Theater,
Frieze Building
March 22-24

ed this weekend
by Basement
Arts. It is a ruth-
less and mature
investigation of
those two all-
powerful ele-
ments which
never cease to
intrigue and
change us -
love and sex.
"What's so great
about the truth?"
Marber asks.

Courtesy of voGoo

"vidGod" looks at street people in a new, artistic way.

._

the Media Union this weekend.
Ata musical rehearsal and warm up
Wnday night, a red-haired dancer
Moved around the set counting to her-
self: She wore a robe and slippers. The
ovular, black room filled with deep red
and blue lights. A screen at the room's
center displayed a large city image that

then makes the return to child-like sub-
servience and opportunism possible.
"The play isn't just about the
omnipresence of technology, it's also
about the way civil liberties are violat-
ed," Rodemer said. "If God is dead,
who is watching us to make sure that
we're good?"
A group of engineering students
n hldes exti

Just imagine what it would be like if
a whole army of musicians like Erik
Friedlander were to invade the stage of
your favorite orchestra hall. All that
frightening finesse, the ability to casu-
ally fling out an erudite musical par-
lance, cleverly concealed behind the
single veil of next-door-neighborly
banality. Compared to the sight of

A-scene from "George Washington,"
showing at th ELFF.
£LFF offers
e *
Variety of
new films
By Lyle Henretty
Daly Film Editor

ti
Erik
Friedlander
Kerrytown Concert
House
March 17, 2001

Friedlander and
his cello at Ker-
rvtown Concert
House this past
S a t u r d a y
evening, Al Gore
standing still
would look wild.
Thus the effect of
an all-Friedlan-
der orchestra
would be compa-
rable to that of
watching a hun-
dred Mr. Rogeis
(the popular PBS

helped build the scenery on 3D Studio
Mix, adding in textures, light, shadow
and reflection through took a long time
to complete. Anton Francesco, a recent
graduate from the dance department,
used the program Life Forms to create
the moving dance figures on the screen
reme talent
Willem Breuker. And, in addition to
Breuker's Kollektief (which was
formed when Breuker left the ICP
Orchestra with several of its members
in the early '70s). Mengleberg is largely
responsible for having established the
current Dutch jazz flair for absurd
musical drama (one of the pianist's ear-
lier performances consisted of him saw-
ing a chair into the shape of a camel to
the accompaniment of an orchestra).
Moreover, Mengelberg, along with
Breuker, instigated the BIM, an organi-
zation that manages regular grants for
jazz from the Dutch government. The
existence of such government-spon-
sored commissions partially explain
why avant-garde jazz is more accepted
in Europe than the States; why relative-
ly obscure American musicians like
Friedlander find mere success - even
some name recognition -- touring
there.
As a soloist, Mengelberg is never
content to stick to any one idea. In his
improvisations, one musical concept is
quickly abandoned for another, an end-
less series of statements and decon-
structions. At times he sounds quite
classical, developing a complex, unsyn-
copated series of linking phrases only
to plunge a moment later into mighty
fistfuls of clashing keys, like the mis-
placed trajection of a frantic cat clawing
across a cold keyboard. Regardless,
there's usually a noticeable trace of
Thelonious Monk inspired off-beat syn-
copation.
Alone and together with Butcher,
who is reputed for his sensitive and
complex manipulation of extended and
electronic saxophone techniques, Men-
gelberg should provide the perfect
European foil for last weekend's perfor-
mance by Friendlander.

"The truth hurts people, try lying for a
change. It's the currency of the world"
"Closer" was originally produced in
London, where it received the 1997 Crit-
ics Circle "Best Play Award" and the
1998 Olivier Award for "Best New
Play' Recently, the play enjoyed a six-
month run on Broadway. It will be
shown in the Arena Theater at 7 p.m.
from March 22-24 with an additional II
p.m. show. on Friday. The Ann Arbor
production is directed by Peter Maris
and stars Sandra Abrevaya, Audra
Ewing, Maclain Looper, and Ryan Pow-
ell, all students in the University School
of Theater.
"Any person, college student or other-
wise, who has lived enough to have
experienced love and relationships will
be able to identify with these charac-
ters," Maris said. "The play deals with
questions of intimacy. It is entitled
'Closer,' and yet one of the questions
that the play raises is: How close are we
to the people we love? How well do we
really know the people we fall in love
with?"
This is no Dawson's Creek, however.
"This is the kind of play that one only
sees in The Basement because the issues
and language are too strong for the Uni-
vcrsity to sanction it as a U-Prod," said
Maiis. "Closer" has been described as
shocking, obscene -- or, as put by the
London Daily Telegraph, "like a kick in
the groin or a spit in the face."
The story follows two couples
through four years of their relationships.
Alice, a stripper, is hit by a taxicab and
is picked up by Dan, an obituary writer
who aspires for more. Larry, a sex-
obsessed doctor, is talking ii an Inter-
net porn chat room to Dan, who is
posing as his photographer friend
Anna. When Larry asks to arrange a
date, Dan sends the real Anna -- and
thus, their relationship begins. The
audience is thrust into the lives of these
people, and their intensity becomes
glaringly real. "To some members of
the audience it's a horrible reminder of
what they've been through." Marber
said. "To others, who are going through
this stuff at the same time as they are
watching the play, there is a strong ele-
ment of recognition. I've had letters
from people saying, 'You've written my

For anyone who had their appetites
whetted by the Ann Arbor Film Festival
last week, the East Lansing Film Festival
,Ik§koff Thursday night on the Michigan
S.t t University campus. The goal of the
festival is to bring quality films into mid-
Michigan, where ELFF director Jennifer
White feels they are greatly needed.
"People have heard of these films, but
they don't get a chance to see them." says
White. The festival, started in 1997 by
*an Woods and the city of East Lans-
ing is not directly affiliated with MSU.
though White considers the school one of
their many supporters.
-The ELFF has 'grown every year since
its-inception, and White hopes that atten-
dance will reach upwards of 10,000 this
year:- The diversity of the filmmakers
stretches from India's Jagmohan to
France's Ann Arbor Film Festival winner
es Varda to several MSU students.
ile White does mention Frank Cole's
"Life Without Death" and Mark
Osborne's "Dropping Out" as particular
standrouts this year. she refuses to choose
a personal favorite. "All of them [are my
favorite], that's why we pick them!"
The ELFF mixes student and experi-
mental films with larger, more estab-
lished films such as "The Ballad of
Ramblin' Jack" and "Escanaba in da
Moonlight," which was written by, direct-
by and staring Michigan's Jeff
Wiels. The Festival also stays local
with "Michigan's Own Film Competi-
tion:" which awards cash prizes to
Michigan filmmakers. Other than
"Escanaba:' the competition includes
several documentaries, shorts and stu-
dint films.
The Festival begins on tomorrow
evening at 7:30 and runs until Sunday
niihL Tickets are S8 for opening night
#, ,for students) and S5 for the main
program festival films (three for students
with ID). For ticket information and a
cormplete schedule of films and events,
check out their website at iVtWe/Jf.com.

afternoon entertainer) at a hockey
game, in a gospel choir, drinking
Mountain Dew or participating in a
similar activity that would normally
entail an exertion of emotion: A logical
impracticality.
Yet Fniedlander's performance Satur-
day proved that one such extremely
inconspicuous musician actually does
exist, which almost certainly implies
that there are more masked musical
heroes out in the streets, soloing sav-
agely behind a low-profile or an
uncommon instrument.
Friedlander specializes in a popular
downtown experimental jazz hybrid
that's usually seasoned with Eastern-
European folk songs and a strong sense
of composition. Perhaps, then, there's
also someone playing mad Argentinean
dance music under cover of a prosaic
facade and someone else who grinds
the organ like Martha Stewart bakes
pies.
A diverse musical underground?
You might argue.
"If Friedlander represents the calm
end of some musical personality spec-
trum, the very existence of a spectrum
should necessitate the existence of an
opposing example, someone on the
other end of the scope. And, really,
how many world class cello improvis-
ers are out there?"
By many accounts, the answer is
two; the other a Dutchman named
Ernst Reijsenger. He has long, unkept
hair that flails about, wild and untamed
like the bumpy musical path of his
improvisations. On stage, Reijsenger is
generally as interesting to watch as he
is to hear: At any given performance,
he's likely to play his cello with the
wrong side of the bow, rub his licked
fingers against the instrument's body

courtesy ofBra t'wate & Katz Communcatons
Dutch piano legend Misha Mengelberg tickles the ivories.

like a D scratching a record and slung
his cello across his lap guitar-wise to
strum it with a square shaped key chain
(so that the keys jingle to the beat of
his hand sweeping).
In a certain sense, this superficial
disparity between the mild-mannered
American and the outspoken restless
European improvising cello giant says
a lot about the difference between the
two continents' experimental jazz
schools.
Although the music Friedlander per-
formed with his quartet, Topaz, Satur-
day often climaxed into a chaotic
bubbling of sobbing saxophone, bass
plunking, mallet splats and banging
bow strings, all the fray came within

the confines of an ordered context.
Over the last few decades, much of
European improvised music has moved
toward a less structured, quite abstract
approach to ensemble playing and/or a
heavy reliance on theatricality.
Between Dutch piano legend Misha
Mengelberg and the British saxophone
technician John Butcher, both ends of
the Continental spectrum will be avail-
able for Kerrytown audiences tomor-
row evening.
In deed, Mengelberg actually coined
the phrase "instant composition'' for
the improvisational approach of the
Instant Composers Pool Orchestra,
which he founded in 1967 with drum-
mer Han Bennink and saxophonist

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