2015: Measures & Frames

Saturday, March 28, 2017 | 7:00 p.m.
Alfred Newman Recital Hall, USC (see AHF on campus map)
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA
Reception following the concert

Admission is FREE and open to the public
Campus Parking: $12 – enter Gate 3 at Figueroa St. & McCarthy Way (Parking Structure X)


Measuring Up To Film

From PMC Newsletter March 2015

 

This year’s PMC spring concert is a joint collaboration between the PMC, the USC Thornton School of Music’s Composition Department, and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Entitled “Measures & Frames” and presented by Visions & Voices—USC’s Arts and Humanities Initiative—the evening will combine music and film, seeking to discover the hidden and serendipitous connections between these two disciplines. In a way, the March 28 event at USC’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall will harken back to the early days of silent films, where images were accompanied by live musical performance. The audience will have a chance to experience the merging of music and video imagery, created by leading composers and filmmakers and performed by the Penderecki String Quartet and soprano Rebekah Barton.

The second movement of Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz’s String Quartet No. 1 “La Vita” will accompany fragments of Agnès Varda’s celebrated film, Vagabond, a moving depiction of a homeless young woman’s tragic last days of life. The three movements of Jeff Holmes’s String Quartet No. 2 “Kirurgi” will be paired to video projections specially created for the event by Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger, two animation artists and faculty at USC School of Cinematic Arts.

In addition, together with a group of talented USC animation students, Patterson and Reckinger have created stunning video projections for two other string quartet works on the March 28 program: Arcadiana by Thomas Adès and midaregami by Veronika Krausas. Commissioned by the Endellion Quartet and the Holst Foundation, Adès’s Arcadiana dates from 1994 and explores the concept of vanishing idylls. Spanning seven movements, its odd-numbered movements are connected to watery images and even-numbered ones to pastoral, “arcadian” environments. A 2006 commission from the Penderecki String Quartet and the Canada Council for the Arts, Veronika Krausas’s midaregami [Tangled Hair] adds a soprano solo to the string quartet. Based on a collection of poems by Akiko Yosano (1878-1942), the music reflects the delicate, fleeting imagery contained in seven short poems-vignettes depicting idealized love.

The evening’s musical and filmic presentation will conclude with Fire (Pożar), a 10-minute animation by David Lynch accompanied by Music for David, a 2015 string quartet composition by Marek Zebrowski. A Q&A with the performers, filmmakers and composers will follow directly after the concert.

With three screens framing the back of the stage, Alfred Newman Recital Hall will be transformed for the event. Digital projectors installed especially for the occasion will provide a unique visual experience for the public. Throughout the evening, the celebrated Penderecki String Quartet from Toronto will take the Center stage to interpret the music by Adès, Bruzdowicz, Holmes, Krausas and Zebrowski. The quartet’s challenge will be to perfectly synchronize the music to films by Lynch and Varda as well as to visualizations provided by Patterson and Reckinger.

Widely acknowledged as one of the most prominent chamber ensembles today, the Penderecki String Quartet has concertized throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Europe, South America, and the Far East. The Quartet champions contemporary music and have premiered over 100 new works from composers all across the world. They have also recorded works by Brahms, Bartók, Beethoven, and Penderecki, among others. The Penderecki String Quartet members include violinists Jeremy Bell and Jerzy Kapłanek, violist Christine Vlajk and cellist Katie Schlaikjer, all members of the faculty of music at Laurier University where they coordinate one of the best string programs in the world.

Admission to the “Measures & Frames” event is free and open to the public, however RSVP is required. To reserve your spot, please visit visionsandvoices.usc.edu.

 


An Evening Of Sound And Image

From PMC Newsletter April 2015

 

Video images by Michael Patterson, Candace Reckinger and students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts surround the Penderecki String Quartet and soprano Rebekah Ann Barton during Veronika Krausas’s midaregami [Photo: David Johnston]
Held on March 28, 2015, this year’s PMC spring concert was a truly special affair. Organized as part of the prestigious Visions & Voices event series at USC, it celebrated ‘visual music’ through the juxtaposition of live musical performance and short film or animation projections. Entitled “Measures & Frames,” the concert’s goal was the exploration of the serendipitous connections made within the real-time merger of music and the moving image. The concert program featured works for string quartet by composers Thomas Adès, Joanna Bruzdowicz, Jeffrey Holmes, Veronika Krausas, and Marek Zebrowski. Each of their compositions was paired with video presentations by filmmakers David Lynch, Michael Patterson, Candace Reckinger, and Agnès Varda. The performers for this memorable evening were the Penderecki String Quartet and soprano Rebekah Ann Barton.

Sans toit ni loit [Vagabond] by Agnès Varda behind the Penderecki String Quartet performing Joanna Bruzdowicz’s String Quartet No. 1 “La Vita” [Photo: Mike Patterson]
Held in the Alfred Newman Recital Hall, the concert began with an evocative montage of scenes from Agnès Varda’s 1985 feature film, Sans toit ni loit[Vagabond]. Once filming was complete, Varda heard Polish composer Joanna Bruzdowicz’s String Quartet No. 1 “La Vita” and decided to use the haunting music of the quartet’s second movement in her film, a poignantly-narrated story depicting the demise of a young homeless woman.  As the film was projected on a huge screen covering the entire back wall of Newman Hall, from the darkened stage the Penderecki String Quartet gently launched into the plaintive opening of Bruzdowicz’s quartet, instantly creating a magical mood for the audience.

Three short movements from Jeff Holmes’s String Quartet No. 2 Kirugi followed, to the accompaniment of video images newly created for the occasion by Michael PattersonCandace Reckinger and a group of their students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Varying between abstract and geometrical and semi-realistic shots of a deserted Highway 1 on California’s Central Coast, the imagery provided a new dimension to Holmes’s fluid musical statement.

PSQ performs Jeff Holmes’s String Quartet No. 2 Kirugi with video by the Patterson/Reckinger team [Photo: David Johnston]
Another USC composer, Veronika Krausas, was represented on the program by her midaregami, a work for string quartet and soprano in seven movements dating from 1996. Soprano soloist Rebekah Barton added a beautiful layer to the spare and rarefied string textures employed by Krausas for accompanying of poems by Akiko Yosano. Patterson and Reckinger’s videos here relied on graphic conventions from the late Meiji and Taisho era aesthetics, which complimented the overall theme.

The Patterson/Reckinger team and their students drew upon the overt literary, musical and cultural references present in Thomas Adès’s 1994 Arcadiana for their visual representations of his music. Video footage of Venice, water scenes, and dancing skeletons flowed from such movement titles as Venezia notturnoAuf dem Wasser zu singen, and Et… (tango mortale). The music itself—both dense and ethereal in turn—provided the biggest challenge of the evening for the filmmakers, performers and the audience.

David Lynch’s animated short Fire (Pożar) surrounds PSQ as they perform Marek Zebrowski’s Music for David [Photo: Mike Patterson]
The program closed with the American premiere of a 2015 animation short by David Lynch, entitled Fire (Pożar), with music written by Marek Zebrowski. In this case, Zebrowski’s accompanying Music for David was written after the animation was complete, and the inspiration that was taken from Lynch’s hand-drawn, stark black and white imagery was clear and direct. After many years of musical collaboration, the synergy between these two artists yielded an exquisite blending of tone, which was then expertly matched by the Penderecki String Quartet in perfect synchronicity with the film.

Immediately following the concert, filmmakers David Lynch, Mike Patterson and Candace Reckinger were joined on stage for a Q&A by composers Joanna Bruzdowicz, Jeffrey Holmes and Marek Zebrowski and violinist Jeremy Bell representing the Quartet. Moderated by Veronika Krausas, who was the leading team member on this complicated and exciting Visions & Voices project, the panel had a chance to share with the audience some of their thoughts on both the inspiration and the technical challenges of this particular concert.

     
(L to R) Veronika Krausas, Jeremy Bell, Joanna Bruzdowicz, Candace Reckinger, Mike Patterson, Marek Zebrowski, David Lynch and Jeffrey Holmes at the post-concert Q&A [Photo: David Johnston]

The overflowing crowds in Newman seemed to enjoy the immersive experience of hearing excellent musicians in an inspiring setting, with simultaneous video projected on three sides of Newman Hall. Being surrounded by images and music and synthesizing the experience in a live setting was certainly something one never encounters in movie theatres, and rarely at concerts. Three digital projectors especially installed in Newman for this concert were expertly run by Michael Fullman and Vartan Tchekmediyan from VT Pro Design. The entire staff of Newman Hall and of Visions & Voices, with Daria Yudacufski and Mary Megowan in the forefront, made sure that everything went very smoothly indeed. The audience—including many leading LA filmmakers, artists, and a large cross-section of USC students—will certainly treasure impressions of this extraordinary event for a long time.

 

For other news on this event, please see also Damjan Rakonjac’s review “Framing Measures: New Film and Music at USC” for Artificialist and Julie Riggott’s review “New music shines in the projector’s beam” for USC News.