(Reviewed in this post: eighth blackbird, red fish blue fish, Newspeak, Frederic Rzewski, John Cage, Stefan Weisman, David T Little, Matt Marks, Louis Andriessen)
Does music have the power to express anything? Igor Stravinsky says no. Chinua Achebe says if it doesn’t, it’s poop. Stravinsky says your MOM is poop. Achebe says is that the best you can do? Stravinsky says take THIS! and composes a piece entitled “Mrs. Achebe Smells Like Dog Poop.” Achebe says pretty expressive piece, Mr. Seewhatai Didthere. Stravinsky says D’OH and facepalms exactly 11 times.
OK, I’m paraphrasing a bit, but this is the conversation that eighth blackbird has been engaging in with their recent programs presented as part of the Tune In Festival at the Park Avenue Armory. The former concert, PowerFUL, makes the case for music’s ability to communicate directly and (lest it ends up in Achebe’s pooper scooper of history) politically. The latter, PowerLESS, is an exercise in absolute music, music that expresses nothing other than the music itself.
Looking at the programming choices, one notices immediately that almost all of the pieces in the PowerFUL program involve text, either spoken or sung, and those that don’t, Continue Reading