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A Busy Mussel Weekend

Posted Jul 21 2009 12:00am


Well, it was a very busy weekend for me. On 17 July 2009 I helped coordinate the inaugural Musselman Arts Triathlon—a twelve hour arts performance at the historic Smith Opera House in Geneva N.Y. Musicians, dancers, painters and audience members shared the stage collaborating in the creation of new works.

The creative team included my colleagues: choreographer/dancer Donna Davenport, visual artist Cherry Rahn and lighting designer Mark Wunderlich. Throughout the day, musicians and dancers performed non-stop. The dancers performed choreographed essays during parts of the concert, and at other times, improvised to the music. Visual artists worked throughout the day painting a 18X24 backdrop on the back of the Smith Opera House stage—which will be donated to the Geneva Boys and Girls Club.


Ensembles performing at the Smith included Trio East—comprised of Eastman School of Music faculty member Clay Jenkins, Jeff Capmbell and Rich Thompson. Together they performed with the Hillside Children's Movement Choir. Another Eastman ensemble, Fracas Quartet, performed works by Elizabeth Kelly, Marc Mellits and Loius Andriessen. The works were scored for the ensemble's unique lineup of saxophone, electric guitar, percussion and piano.

The dancing was equally eclectic. Missy Pfhol Smith's BioDance, Ann Harris-Wilcox's group Present Tense Dance, Juanita Suarez, Donna Davenport, and dance students from Hobart and William Smith and Brockport Colleges were just some of the artists who performed throughout the day.

A rather unique performance was that of Syracuse composer Edward Ruchalski who brought a multitude of homemade sound sculptures fashioned from various metals that he invited children and audience members to come on stage and play.

One of the highlights of the evening was a concert that premiered 33 miniatures in approximately 45 minutes. The composers represented a wide range of aesthetic approaches from Mark Radice's neo-Impressionistic work The Pavillions of Zhanshan Si—written during the composers recent trip to China—to the graphic score Not Open for Debate by Christopher Reba. The ensemble was comprised of Kelly Jepson Covert on flute, Anna Ruguero on clarinet, Cristina Bucui and Sara Mastrengelo on violin and Meg Ruby on piano. Almost all of the composers were in attendance at the premiere.

Pianists Nicola Melville, Daniela Mineva and Catarina Catarina Domenici all contributed amazing solo concerts throughout the day with music varying from Bach's Musical Offering to Doug Opel's Eine Kinda Bachmusik Pt. 2. Brockport dance alums Danielle Selby, Sophia Roberts and Caitlyn Bowers danced an improvised concert performed by clarinetist Stefan Van Sant whose selections included Shulamit Rahn's For an Actor: Monologue for Clarinet and Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.

With an ensemble comprised of my friends Otto Muller on Rhodes, Christopher Reba on electric bass, Dennis Mariano on drums, Aaron Hyzen and Paul McCartel on electric guitar and me on piano—we played an improvised set inspired by Miles Davis' Bitches Brew for the concluding "Unveiling Concert." The artists removed the stage curtain, allowing the audience and artists to see the canvas that the painters had worked on for twelve straight hours. The result was nothing short of extraordinary. The audience and artists cheered with the unveiling. Geneva artists, Cherry Rahn, oversaw the entire creative process.

Thanks to everyone who donated their time and artistry in making this a truly extraordinary event!

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