by Lukáš Olejník
WordSong, a Boston-based nonprofit musical organization specialized in performance of newly-commissioned art songs all set to the same text, presented a new program in Somerville's Third Life Studio this past Friday April 4. Audience that gathered in the Union Square location had the unique chance to listen to four songs all composed to the same text of a famous e. e. cummings' poem In just. Composers asked to participate in this particular cummings project were Howard Frazin, Benjamin Pesetsky, Tom Schnauber, and a Longy alumnus Adam Simon. All four composers were present at the concert.
The evening followed the company's an unusual yet very original format. After a brief introduction of a generic character the composers asked the listeners to consider the text read several times by each of them and "share their points of view on it" in a free discussion led rather by the members of the audience. This introductory phase was followed by performances of the songs, during which listeners wrote down their reactions to the music. Following the brief intermission that succeeded the first round of performances the discussion resumed again this time "based on listener's points of view on the music just heard; listeners, composers, and performers all engage in a conversation about the music, the words, and the interaction between the two" (promotional text of the company). The entire evening closed with an additional set of performances and concluding remarks on how the second hearing of the songs changed perception of the listeners. Intensity of an input from a highly sophisticated intellectual audience during the course of the entire evening was extraordinary.
Music of this event was performed by a mezzo soprano Ms. Thea Lobo, a marimba player Mr. Brandon Ilaw, and a cellist Mr. Rafael Keizer. The program was made possible by a grant from the Somerville Arts Council as part of the Arts Union Winter Series.