Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Solo Singers take Manhattan by Storm

A theatrical experiment is happening for the next two weeks in the vicinity of Time Square. The experiment, referred to as the “Musical”, is put together by the Miami artist Dara Friedman, who works primarily with film. (She has a work currently at the Museum of Modern Art and recently had a show at the Kitchen in Chelsea.) She hired 60 performers ( a variety of people from Julliard to grandparents ) to sing a would be a private, personal performance in a busy public place. Friedman wants the soloists to interact and interrupt other people’s rhythms. The ultimate wish is to have the spectator react, be involved, and enjoy the performance. Her camera crew will tape the experiment from a safe distance away. Friedman has not decided what she will do with the different sequences of the performances.

Can you make a busy city dweller stop and hear the music?

Here’s the article:

1 comment:

Monica said...

This totally reminded me of another, maybe even more conceptual-art performance review I read a little while back in the NYT:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/15/theater/ 15mill.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

It was a while back so you might have to register to read it (so worth it, btw, there's endlessly interesting mind-candy in those archives). Anyway, this project included not only music but dancers, actors, actobats etc. interacting with passers-by on the street, while the audience watched from a storefront window converted into a mini-theatre.

While I know the above seems like I am veering wildly off-topic, what stuck in my mind from reading this article was this quote from one of the unsuspecting pedestrian 'performers':
“I didn’t know what it was all about,” the elder Ms. Petkova said, “but we loved it. This is why I live in New York.”
And I have thought of that quote several times since in relation to classical music performance. In short, I think we often under-estimate the sophistication of the 'uninitiated' listener, and sometimes insult them to boot with our efforts to educate them during concerts. Maybe an unpopular stance these days, as it's all about the verbal program notes lately, but sometimes I think it does more harm than good. In my experience, if music is presented with quality, conviction and intensity, in short, if it ROCKS, then audiences always respond. They might not 'get it' on all the levels that there are to enjoy, but they still get it and usually want to know more.