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andrewcsmith on 06/14/2011 at 09:00AM

Immediacy in a reverberant space

Photo by Brad Buehring

This past week, ISSUE held a reception and short concert by our Artists-in-Residence Nate Wooley & James Ilgenfritz [Artist-in-Residence Nate Wooley with MIVOS Quartet + Peter Evans: Saturday, 6/18, FREE | RSVP] at our future home at 110 Livingston in Downtown Brooklyn. This space, which has previously hosted more than a few string quartets, William Basinski, Ellen Fullman, and a solo acoustic (amplified) performance by Elliott Sharp, had still barely touched the performance style that makes up a healthy portion of our programming: free improvisation. Both Nate and James seem to approach improvisation as an act of listening. They leave ample space for silence, and even when playing solo don't merely rattle off licks learned in middle school. The immediacy of their playing and their mental and emotional presence in the room is always felt.

This performance at 110 Livingston (their first public performance as a duo) seemed to amplify the artists' awareness of their own sound. This highly reverberant space has not yet been acoustically treated, and when there are few other people and no furniture it's difficult to even have a conversation in the room; any word spoken just bounces around the room for 7-8 seconds. So a duo performance by these two virtuoso listeners cannot help but include the room in the equation. The sounds are held, or blasted into the room. But they always step back to listen to the full sound. It's always about the result, and about the aggregate of sounds heard, not only spoken; it's not about the player.



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