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March 21, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, March 212008 - 5A

DSO brings Bach
to Ann Arbor

"That's it, no post-apocalyptic sex for a month."

Doome...d to failure

By ABIGAIL B. COLODNER
DailyArts Writer
Today, Bach fans will mark the com-
poser's 323rd birthday. Also today, Chris-
tians will mark the death of Jesus Christ.
That quirk of this year's early Easter cal-
endar makes tonight's
Hill Auditorium per- Bach's St.
formance of Bach's Matthew
"St. Matthew Passion"
especially timely. The Passion
choral piece that rock- Tonight at
eted Bach into post- 7:30 p.m.
mortem popularity
draws from the Gospel At the Hill
of Matthew's telling of Auditorium
Jesus's crucifixion and $10-$56
debuted on Good Fri-
day in 1727 in Leipzig,
Germany. The size and complexity of
tonight's 7:30 p.m. performance - a col-
laboration between the Detroit Sym-
phony Orchestra, the University Musical
Society Choral Union, the Michigan
State University, Children's Choir and
seven professional vocal soloists - lives
up to the reputation of the piece itself.
This "Passion" is the first of its kind
on campus. Jerry Blackstone, the direc-
tor of the Choral Union and Chair of the
Conducting department, will be direct-
ing the DSO for the first time, although
the Choral Union routinely sings in the
DSO's performances of large choral
works.
The University is itself the eventual
product of local church choirs wanting
to collaborate in singing the perennial
holiday blockbuster, Handel's "Messiah."
Today, according to Blackstone, nearly
600 people sing in choirs on campus each
week. The music school has 11 choirs,
largely comprised of vocal performance
students.
The huge scale of many choral pro-
ductions is often a contemporary twist
on choral pieces' original design. In an
interview, Blackstone said that Handel
probably wrote "Messiah" for about 20
singers.
"In the 19th century, when bigger was
better, large groups began to perform
these works," Bpakstone said. "Besides.
that,-Bach used onlymenand boys in the
church. We use men and women, and the'
soloists are sopranos where he would
have used boys. It's a modern perfor-
mance."
The piece itself is a significant work
in the Western Canon, one whose redis-
covery by Felix Mendelssohn - nearly
100 years after the piece was written -
helped redefine ecclesiastical music. The
piece's masterful composition makes it
an enduring and high-profile work, and
its emotional impact is not lost on mod-
ern listeners..
"There are moments - no, 'moments'

is too light. There are hours that move
me," Blackstone said of "Passion."
For so many separate creative groups
to come together successfully might
seem to depend on weeks of rehearsal.
In fact, the DSO played with Blackstone
conducting for the first time on Tuesday.
Blackstone explained that for profes-
sional orchestras, having a handful of
rehearsals before a performance is "pret-
ty standard," since the orchestra would
likely have been booked with a different
performance the previous weekend.
"They're at the top of their game,"
Blackstone said of the DSO. "That's why
they're great - because they have to be
great instantly."
According to Kathy Operhall, the
manager of the UMS Choral Union,
3,000 of Hill's 3,538 seats had already
been sold by Monday. "Messiah" is a reli-
able ticket-seller every year, and along
with the Choral Union's collaboration
with the DSO in "Beethoven's Ninth" in
May, tonight's performance rounds out a
surefire set.
Perhaps partof the appealof"Passion"
Bach's b-day?
Jesus's death day?
A recipe for
orchestral success
is how narrative the three-hour work is.
"Bach doesn't just present beautiful
music - for him the story is paramount,"
Blackstone said.
He argued that the work is highly
accessible (English supertitles will sup-
plement the sung German), a fact that
may be born out by the participation
of the MSU Children's Choir, which is
composed of young adults aged 10 to 14,
according to Operhall.
"Bach uses all those arias (melodic
solos) to make the story very personal,"
Blackstone said.
In a nod to the catgut stringed instru-
ments Bach's musicianswould have used,
Blackstone intends for the DSO's string
sections to play a "less brilliant sound,"
as is often heard from contemporary
steel-wrapped strings.
"The piece sounds more beautiful to
my ears given that elegant, crisp clar-
ity associated with the original instru-
ments," he said. "But with a big chorus,
there will also be warmth and richness."
Expect a demanding performance that
will be impressive for its gravity.In Black-
stone's words, "It's living with greatness,
the time I spend with this score."

Should-be terrible
action flick finds
occasional bright spots
throughout dim story
By PAUL TASSI
DailyArts Writer
The "Doomsday" trailer was almost a
promise that one of the
worst movies of all time
was about to be released.
A post-apocalyptic Doomsda
fdd re. 'th punk rock
cannibals on dirt bikes? At Showcase
I'm thinking "Roller- and Quality16
ball." Unfortunately for Rogue
lovers of awful movies,
the end result is surprisingly somewhat
watchable.
It's the year 2035 and Scotland is just
getting over a pandemic that has wiped
out its entire population. The landmass
is quarantined with a giant wall that
stretches across the island, and orders
are to shoot on sight anyone that comes
near it. The pandemic in question is
no zombie-creating virus a la "28 Days

Later." Instead, it's simply a plague that
gives you boils and makes you die a slow,
painful death. Yummy.
Now that the disease has run its course
in Scotland, everyone is presumed to be
dead. But that all changes when satel-
lite photos start showing people climb-
ing over the wall. Conveniently, this is
right about the time the disease breaks
out in London (called the "Reaper" virus
in one scene and the "Doomsday" virus
in another by indecisive scientists). A
special ops officer named Eden Sinclair
(Rhona Mitra, "Nip/Tuck") is picked to
lead a team to figure out how the hell
people survived.
Back in post-apocolyptic Scotland,
there are two groups of survivors. The
first group Sinclair encounters is a wild
group of goth-rock 20-somethings whose
hobbies include running around with bat-
tle-axes and eating each other (despite the
inexplicable fact that Sinclair's team runs
into about io,ooo cattle a few miles away).
They quickly capture and kill most of the
team and proceed to cook and eat one of
the generic soldier boys in a scene so over
the top that it's not even disturbing.
In fact, the goths are so entertaining,
with their facial tattoos and surprisingly
convincing rock-star leader Sol (Craig

Conway, "Vera Drake"), that you'll actu-
ally find yourself wanting to chant along
with the barbaric crowd. The fight scenes
are incredibly well choreographed for a
movie that would seem like it would have
the budget of "Saw" and Lord knows
you'll have no idea what happens next.
And what does happen next? Sinclair
escapes and takes a train across the coun-
tryside where she finds the second group,
the Renaissance fair crowd. They've
taken up refuge in an old medieval castle
and proceeded to dress and act like it's the
Dark Ages. If you thought these guys were
good compared to the goths, think again
- Sinclair finds herself in a medieval
gladiator fight to the death in no time. So
far we've gone from modern day to 2035
London to anarchist Scotland to the Mid-
dle Ages. It's hard to believe there's not a
flux capacitor anywhere in this film.
All of this concludes with a car chase
involving an indestructible Bentley and
a "Mad Max"-like parade of vehicles
pimped out with skeletons and gimps
tied to the front.
All things said and done, it's probably
unreasonable to think there might be a
"Doomsday 2" - that is, unless you're a
bloodthirsty 19-year-old, sitting by your-
self

ARTS IN BRIEF

Television
Dull concept destroys
latest biographical show
"Ax Men"
Sundays at 10 p.m.
History Channel
We have reached the bottom of the barrel.
The History Channel has an hour-long pro-
gram on logging.
"Ax Men" follows four logging companies
in the northwestern United States as they
cut down trees and face the dangers associ-
ated with logging .. . like not getting out of
the way of falling trees. The forced drama is
completely over the top, yet it's possible this
is the most boring show on television. When
you have loggers endlessly spouting off things
like, "the first time you make a mistake, it can
hurtyou bad," followed by an hour of non-stop
dullness, nothing can come from that but a bit-
ter audience.
Where are all the accidents? Yes, these log-
gers are experienced, but they're also making
a TV show, so at least one of them should be
forced to take one for the team per episode. If
they don't, there's no use for this show outside
of a cure for insomnia.
JOHN DAAVETTILA
Event Preview
Multimedia show translates
meaning through media
CommShow
Tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m.and
8 p.m.
Video studio in the Duderstadt Center
In a time when modern conveniences such as
text messaging and BlackBerries are ubiqitous,
human communication begins to take on a more
unseen form. It is undeniable that our culture is
intertwined with a constantly evolving role of
technology. The advantages and consequences
are left for time to reveal. As for right now, all
we can do is investigate. Such a task inspired
students studying music, performing arts tech-

nology, dance and art and design to collaborate
on a project investigating how humans inter-
act with each other in the modern world. The
result of their inquiry will be presented in a
multimediadance performance, "CommShow,"
today and tomorrow at the video studio in the
Duderstadt Center on North Campus.
Appropriately, multimedia will be used to
examine the digital world. The original six
dances, music and video were choreographed
and composed bythe students themselves. The
video, modern dance and ambient style music
create an atmosphere that helps to explain how
today's society relies on multitasking through
multimedia. The project began last April when
members began talking about themes of social
networking.
"Things like MySpace and Facebook have
really changed the way we interact with one
another, and so we were trying to bring some
forth some of these things, and trying not to
make a commentary on it, but rather, acknowl-
edging the implications of these things, and
making the audience aware of them," said
School of Music, Theatre and
Dance student Aidan Feldman, a
choreographer of the show
Just as technol-
ogy will be the
central theme
of the perfor-
mance, it * 6
will also
be used
as a form
of art. *
Embrac-
ing the
digital
age
may
also
mean
drawing
some boundar-
ies. As we grapple
with the question
of how much is too
much, Feldman poses
a necessary question:
"What is the bare mini-
mum we can get by with?"'
PRIYA BALI

Minimalist electronics
rule Toronto duo's debut

By GABRIEL BAKER
Daily Arts Writer
With their self-titled debut, Crys-
tal Castles attempts to outdo an
extremely fine catalogue of EPs and
singles by bulking up on even more
Atari 5200 bit sounds and contorting
them into sometimes glitchy, some-
times groovy, electronic music. The
Toronto-based duo of Alice Glass
and Ethan Kath formed in 2003, but
didn't cross into
vocal-friendly terri- ****
tory until two years
later. When an acci- Crystal
dental recording ofC
Glasspracticingsur-
faced as "Alice Prac- Crystal
tice" on the group's Castles
MySpace page, com- Last Gang
pany heads began,
to notice the duo's
eccentric, midi-obsessed sound.
Since then, the Crystal Castles craze
has only gained steam, and with this
album, the band is prepared to make
the leap from dance floor obscu-
rity to electro-digging indie circles
everywhere.
In many ways, Crystal Castles's
music is minimal and economic.
Sure, you've got video game noises
entering from all sides of a given
track, but vocal samples and har-
monies are often used resourcefully.
"Untrust Us" opens like some long-
lost soundtrack to "Castlevania,"
with dark rhythms and indecipher-
able, pitch-shifting vocals recycled
over and over again. Elsewhere, sam-
ples are dropped for Glass's voice. On

"Good Time," she repeats the phrase
"Good times keep rolling / Got to /
Got to escape now," in a plucky man-
ner. It adds a refreshingly human
touch to balance out the glitchy
bleeps and warped sounds.
The best - and perhaps safest
- move on the album is the inclusion
of the band's earlier single, "Crime-
wave." The track was one of the best
singles of the year when it came out
in last August, and now with a full-
length album behind it, the track

stands
sating
vocals s
flourisl
ing sou
of now
with st
Risl
del
fir
infectic
onset
feel lik
electro
to tecto
Crys
weirde
tures a
vocal s
much 1
song'sI
to assu

out even more. Over a pul- word "goo" pronounced with differ-
rubber-band beat, tweaked ent inflections. The song's whimsi-
tutter alongside game console cal qualities are equally illustrated
hes reminiscent of the shrink- in its music video, which shows the
nd in "Mario Bros." But out two band members walking around
here, the vocals are replaced town withice cream cones for heads.
accato electronic dribbles as Each passerby generally enjoys get-
ting served a hefty scoop. Whether
they're trying to make some joke
about "Coneheads" or "You Got
k k gg u Served" is left up to you.
livers on their When music magazine Loud And
Quiet declared Crystal Castles "the
st full-length most exciting and original band in
the world right now," it overlooked
one fine detail: To be the most excit-
ing and original band in the world
ous as they are bizarre. At the does not guarantee responsive lis-
af the song, it doesn't really teners from across the globe. Crystal
e a club hit, but these bouncy Castles is sure to turn off even some
blips really elevate the track of the music-blog-lapping indie kids
nique status. out there. Nonetheless, with this full-
tal Castles gets a little bit length album, the band holds true to
r on "Air War," which fea- its spastically inventive sound. The
plodding electronic beat and 8-bit sounds adorning each track are
nippets that sound way too produced and manicured with fore-
ike baby mumbles. Until the sight and meaning. There is a delib-
lyrics are decoded, I'm going erate order to the chaos. If only more
tme the sample is just the video games sounded like this.

I

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