The Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble presents the world premiere of All that we see or seem… composed by CODE’s Artistic Director, Michael Rene Torres, at the Urban Arts Space on Thursday, July 26th, 2018 from 6pm-7:30pm. All that we see or seem… for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion is an installation piece that explores how we interact with music in the 21st century with the six musicians separated spatially throughout the Urban Arts Space.
The title refers to a line from the poem, “A Dream within a Dream” by Edgar Allan Poe. In the poem, the character elaborates on an existential crisis similarly to how the classical music community has been dealing with an existential crisis of its own, wrestling with issues of relevance, sustainability, accessibility, inclusion, diversity, and slowly adapting and changing in the age of technology.
The piece is inspired by the idea that music in the 21st century is identified as a tangible product and not as a sonic experience. We tend to lazily view the paper with notation, the digital audio file, and the CD as the music itself. Music is consumed less and less often in a live setting. We have culturally abandoned the premise that music exists only in the mind (or in time and space) and thus seem to value the purchasable, physical product as being worth more than the aesthetic experience.
The instrumentation of the piece is the traditional new music ensemble of the 20th and 21st century, the (modified) Pierrot ensemble (fl, cl, vln, vc, pf, & perc), yet, deconstructed as the performers are stationed not as a group, but as individuals who interact only as echoes to each other. This also forces the audience out of the unmovable theater-seat and treats the musicians almost like a museum painting (for better or for worse). The performers will be wearing masks to dehumanize the musicians in the experience, bringing attention to the product of music and intentionally taking focus away from the relationship between performer and audience; almost like how a stage separates audience from performer and makes the musicians unapproachable (physically and metaphorically). The music performed is a collection of miniatures (music that is either 60 seconds in length or less than 100 notes) in an effort to make parallels to our collective difficulty (perhaps by conditioning) in concentrating beyond the standard (and repetitive by design) pop-song length radio selection. The musical score of each movement of the piece will be printed on postcards that the gallery patrons can touch and take and even mail as real postcards. This is the same exact music that the performers will be playing. While the postcards will have printed music on them, the postcard itself is just a postcard that represents music, but is not music, drawing attention to the question of exactly what the music or musical experience actually is. All of these elements are designed to emphasize the traditions of classical music which, in many respects, are at odds with how 21st century humans experience and consume music.
Patrons are invited to visit the Urban Arts Space at any point between 6pm-7:30pm on July 26th for this installation experience and are encouraged to travel through the gallery as there will be (almost) continuous sound for the full 90 minutes and depending on where you are in the gallery it may be a completely different experience.