As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 

TODAY

Saturday, March 28

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


Transmission
« Blah Blah Blah to the Rescue Phish Bringing the Freak Show to the Circus? »

Concert Wed Jan 25 2012

To Twombly (Timeless)

ClaireTransmission.jpg
ICE's Claire Chase

Composer Marcos Balter heard something in the paintings of Cy Twombly. When asked by International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) founder and flautist Claire Chase to compose a work based on any piece in the Art Institute's modern wing, he immediately selected Twombly's Return from Parnassus as his choice in his head, but kept mum, not wanting to sway Chase in her selection until they had both seen everything. When he and Chase approached the Twombly, she immediately gasped. "That's it!" Great minds....

I saw the Twombly in question for the first time last summer. It was my first Twombly experience, save for a few small reproductions in art books. It snagged me immediately, too. The momentum of the work drags your eye from bottom left to top right, carried along on flutters of cursive handwriting and meticulously placed runic scribbles. You dart to and fro across the canvas, drawing imaginary lines through matched patterns, reading, re-reading, and then unreading the text fragments, transforming it from text back to pattern and back to text, carried along in the hubbub and the promise of near-comprehension. It's no great surprise that a composer, especially one working in an avant-garde idiom, would spark on Twombly's its way of marshaling abstract energies, binding them into near-meaning with the thinnest strands of structure.

event_chaseaictwombly.jpg
Cy Twombly, Return from Parnassus (fragment)

Using the visual strategies of Twombly and the poetry of Dante (the first canto of Paradiso), Balter created Descent from Parnassus, a piece for solo flute and voice performed by Chase. Chase acts as both speaker and performer, simultaneously -- no predictable recite-play-recite alternating here. Claire speaks Dante's words through the flute, sometimes embellished with pitched notes, sometimes singing through it, her breathless delivery spilling forth without rests. (One can only imagine Rahsaan Roland Kirk somewhere up top, vigorously nodding his approval.) Says Chase, "There is nowhere to breathe, so I've chosen to inhale certain spoken or sung pitches instead of exhaling them, so as to eliminate any break between the lines - this sounds really cool, but the act dramatically increases your chances of literally choking. So, the piece requires some choking-management-techniques. I might hang a Health Dept poster up in the hall with instructions on back blows and abdominal thrusts, just in case."

In addition to the debut of Descent from Parnassus, Chase will also perform several other pieces for solo flute, including Iannis Xenakis' Dmaathen (augmented by percussionist Svet Stoyanov), Toru Takamitsu's Toward the Sea, and arguably the most legendary modern classical composition for solo flute of all time, Edgard Varese's Density 21.5. Stoyanov will also perform a new arrangement of Steve Reich's Electric Counterpoint for solo percussion.

The event takes place at the Art Institute of Chicago's Fullerton Hall this Friday, January 27, at 6 p.m. The museum closes at 5, after which the auditorium will open at 5:40 for quick seating, which is first come, first served. Best of all, it's FREE.

 
GB store
GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

Blogroll

  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
BackStage
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
ChicagoMusic.org
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
CHIRP
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
Daytrotter
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Do312
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
Gridface
The Hood Internet
Innerview
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pitchfork
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Songs:Illinois
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock

  Venues:

Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
B.L.U.E.S
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Constellation
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
FitzGerald's
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Martyrs'
Mayne Stage
Metro
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Rosa's
Schubas
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Smartbar
Subterranean
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Township
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Atavistic
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Hozac
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store

Events

Featured Series














 

Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.


About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks, sarah@gapersblock.com
Transmission staff inbox: transmission@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15