June 16: Day 4, soundOn, a new music festival at the Athenaeum; final concert.
Hooray San Diegans! Still, I ask: Where have you been for the first three days of soundOn, San Diego’s first new music festival. Even the membership of the Athenaeum (2300 subscribers), which was one of the presenters, stayed away in droves. The organization presents terrific chamber music, so what explains these absences? What if no one had shown up for Mozart’s “new music?”
Tonight, however, San Diegans are taking up every seat in the Athenaeum’s music room for the final concert. So, Hooray!
Last Thursday, I was at the rehearsal for tonight’s concert, so you already know about the program if you’ve read my blog, “Why can’t we all go to rehearsals?” At that time, I said that in rehearsals are you find the drama of creation and collaboration, especially when an ensemble is preparing new works.
Tonight’s concert is titled “Emerging Voices,” and with the glitches, hitches and snags ironed out, the pieces rehearsed on Thursday are little artistic hand grenades. All the composers are present and anxious that their babies sound good. So while the rehearsal blog was about the collaboration, this is about the final product.
Matt Burtner’s electroacoustical “Snowprints” is even more moving than at rehearsal. This piece is surprisingly “soundful” rather than quiet. Burtner, who is from Alaska and now lives in Virginia, has said that snow is not quiet if you’re walking in it. He’s right. When I first heard “Snowprints” last week, I was immediately transported back to cross-country skiing in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. Even when we stopped on the trail, I could hear the wind whistling, tree branches heavy with snow groaning and creaking, coyotes hooting in a distance. These are a few of the sounds played live and “imprinted” digitally into the piece. More than anything, “Snowprints” is about the force of nature. The work certainly lives up to what one critic has written of Burtner’s compositions: “There is a horror and beauty in this music that is impressive.”