Aside from the spectacular content, these shows illustrated (to me at least) the impact of the venue and how spaces shape the experience and help guide the audience.
The goals of Fast Forward Austin are to provide a forum for local and national performers of new music, to explore new performance spaces, and to enhance educational opportunities for underserved communities. With a pentient for variety and an eye on the visual, this year’s show built on past accomplishments and added a half dozen commissions to boot.
Created by composer and percussionist Nick Hennies, electro-acoustic musician/visual artist Sean O’Neill, and designer/UT lecturer Clay Odom, CLOTS is performed in a museum-like environment in which the audience members can move throughout the space and spend whatever amount of time they like experiencing the art.
By acting as a clearing house for collaborative work and by moving concert music to different venues, Jacqueline Perrin’s Classical Reinvention project is bringing music to a new audience.
Chris Cogburn recently curated the 10th annual No Idea Festival with six concerts in Austin and San Antonio. Hailed by the Paris Transatlantic as “one of the finest improvised festivals in the world,” this year’s gathering featured performances by nineteen musicians who made domestic treks from Austin, Houston, Jackson, and New York, as well as those who braved customs with loads of arcane gear from New Zealand, Germany, France, and Mexico.
“I didn’t expect it to be so charming…” I heard the above quote in the foyer during the intermission of the first of two concerts scheduled during their residency with Texas Performing Arts, and I’m inclined to agree.
Nielsen and (most of) his Bel Cuore cohorts held court at the Austin Beerworks brewery, located in a warehouse in North Austin. The ticket price for the show covered admittance to the concert, a few beers 1, and an ABW pint glass. Not a bad deal.
The hypnotic repetitiveness of the first movement, the introspective quality of the second, and the visceral, athletic elements of the third all begged to be let loose, to be performed and experienced in a venue as big as the music.
Featuring sixteen quartet compositions chosen anonymously from among over 100 entries, the organizers of Golden Hornet Project’s “String Quartet Smackdown!” ran a recent concert like the last few rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament. Audience members voted on which quartet would advance.
This installment of the Soundspace series was arguably the most ambitious to date. The fact that it was the largest turn out yet is a testament to the quality of the music and the hunger Austin audiences have for new and interesting music.