ACDFA North-Central Conference


Last weekend, I was involved as an accompanist with the American College Dance Festival Association’s regional conference, held right here in Milwaukee.  There was a lot of preparation and buzz within the UW-Milwaukee Dance Department as the conference drew near, and the conference as a whole, seemed to be a great success.  I had a fantastic time meeting some new people, both musicians and choreographers, and shared some great moments of collaboration.

One of my highlights of the whole event was accompanying alongside Terrance Karn (percussion) for Ananya Chatterjea‘s Contemporary Indian Dance workshop.  As I would expect of a regional conference, participation of staff and faculty from several different colleges and universities, automatically involves collaboration with individuals you’ve never met; creating exciting new opportunities to learn and interact spontaneously.  In my experience, this opportunity has sometimes been successful, and sometimes not.  This particular case was one of immediate connection, relaxed, but enthusiastic interest, and a great desire to fill the room with joyful, positive energy.  I must say, I don’t recall a time I experienced impromptu music making in a dance environment that was quite like this; I was literally “buzzing” when it was over.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any documentation of the class (audio or video), so this will simply have to live on in my mind as one of the most amazing experiences in recent years.  I give great thanks and appreciation to Terrance Karn, Ananya Chatterjea, and the entire class of dancers for the incredible memories.

Another highlight was accompanying one of the Adjudicator classes; this one by Bill Wade of the Inlet Dance Theatre in Cleveland, OH.  I enjoyed Bill’s words of wisdom on the relationship between performers and audience members, and Dominique and Joshua’s demonstrations seemed to stun us all.  I felt the particular Live patch I was using for the class was just the right thing to keep the students engaged in the “assignment” for the moment.  I plan on putting together an audio sample of that patch in the near future.

Until  next time… cheers to more collaborative opportunities in the future!


Motion Blur Video

To feature the release of Misdemeanors, Minor Vices performed at Sugar Maple, one of Milwaukee’s most supportive venues for new music.  At the conclusion of Chris Burns’ welcome/introduction to the show, he tapped a “Publish” button on his phone, making Misdemeanors live to the general public.  Along with the featured studio release, Minor Vices performed Motion Blur, a structured improvisation from the mind of Chris Burns.

While the entire performance was not released on video, preserving the new audio release of MisdemeanorsMotion Blur is available on YouTube.

“For Laura”

This past November, I was involved in a collaborative work led by Milwaukee composer Amanda Schoofs and choreographer Laura Murphy.  The piece was entitled “An Inherent Presence,” and was one of five collaborations performed for Intersect; an evolution of Danceworks’ previous interdisciplinary projects, directed by Dani Kuepper.

Amanda Schoof’s musical score, “For Laura”, superimposes dynamic, raw motion with provocative poetic fragments, and exists in the space between composition and spontaneity.  The music is realized by Steve Schlei on an iPad playing the TC-11 synthesizer app, Trevor Saint on glockenspiel and myself on tenor saxophone.  The dancers involved were: Alberto Cambra, Kim Johnson-Rockafellow, Dani Kuepper, Gina Lauenzi, and Christal Wagner.

Here’s an excerpt from Milwaukee Magazine’s review:

“The purest collaboration of the evening was an improvisation called “An Inherent Presence,” developed by choreographer Laura Murphy. Two onstage musicians—tenor saxophonist David Collins and Steve Schlei, playing the TC-11, a programmable synthesizer app on an iPad. The music was composed by Amanda Schoofs, though like the movement it was likely a structure that the musicians interpret in different ways for each performance. A quartet of dancers started out clustered in the back corner of the stage, and the music spurred them into different energy levels. Christal Wagner seemed to initiate different sections of the piece by articulating a gesture or motif, which was then expanded by the other three. And they all ran with it—with a kind of controlled, technically assured abandon that was thrilling to watch.”

Paul Mitchel was kind enough to share some photos he took during our dress rehearsal.

Please visit Paul’s website for information about his work.

Later this month, Amanda will be directing a recording session of “For Laura”, to be released later this year, so stay tuned!

Minor Vices at UWM Recital Hall

I’m very excited about the opportunity to perform with Minor Vices next week.  The performance will be next Thursday, July 11 (7:30 pm, UWM Recital Hall, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd., free admission).

Here’s a short description of the event from Christopher Burns’ previously released promo materials:

“Minor Vices is performing new structured improvisations created expressly for the ensemble. Part of the evening will be devoted to “Xenoglossia,” in a version quite different from what you’ll hear on the record — the software can be used to transform the acoustic sound of the six Minor Vices musicians live, creating an unusual hybrid between instrumental/vocal improvisation and electroacoustic music. The other new work is “Misdemeanors,” a prose score which poses a series of twenty-six challenges for the musicians to solve.”

Minor Vices is David Collins, saxophones; Adam Murphy, clarinets; Trevor Saint, glockenspiel; Kevin Schlei, percussion and electronics; Amanda Schoofs, voice; and Seth Warren-Crow, percussion and electronics, and Christopher Burns playing electric guitar and piloting the laptop.

Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Unruly Music

Short post to let everyone know about the Spring Unruly Music concerts to be held at Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Vogel Hall, 929 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

I will be performing that night, with both MiLO (Milwaukee Laptop Orchestra) and GLIO (Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra, lead by Hal Rammel).

Further details can be found here.

Both groups I’m involved with for this concert have been discussing group dynamics, texture and language (such as Hal’s hand gestures for conducting GLIO) for our improvisations during recent rehearsal, so I’m quite excited about what will all happen in the moment.

Paul Kosidowski wrote a brief pre-performance article for Milwaukee Magazine, which can be found on their website here.  You can see me in the center of the photo, playing my alto saxophone.

I’ll try to get some good audio of the performance to post later.

G.L.I.O recordings from Woodland Pattern

Another short post just to share some of the audio that has been recently uploaded to SoundCloud.  The recordings are from the Great Lakes Improvising Orchestra performance at Woodland Pattern, that I wrote about in my last post.  The recordings turned out well and it’s fair to say that everyone really enjoyed performing together.  One of the really enjoyable aspects of this performance, is that not all individuals had previously  performed together, therefor providing an opportunity of finding new ways to integrate one’s voice within the orchestra.

Five pieces were played in total.  All were conducted by Hal Rammel.  Below, I have put links for two of the selections; the remaining can be found here.

MiLO at Sugar Maple: Samples

So once again, I’ve gone a couple months without a post.  Summer has a tendency to be full of so many going-ons that this site takes a back seat.  Oh well…

The performance at Sugar Maple was a great success and a good time was had by all.  Something a little newer for the group was to break up all the performers into a variety of trio subsets.  This is an evolution of some exercises we would play during rehearsals, where the entrance of a individual’s sound had to be accompanied by at least one other player, as he/she introduced something new to the overall sound.  Sometimes this would occur during the same subset’s exit from the group sound.  It became a way of organizing spontaneous coordination and adding a level of control to the overall density of our performances.  As everyone really enjoyed how it was influencing our rehearsals, we thought we’d take it a step further for the Sugar Maple performance.

Below is a video I captured before my iPhone ran out of storage space, and the remaining trios that we got audio for.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get anything else in it’s entirety.

Last item of note for that night, is a series of photographs taken by Paul M. Mitchell.  The photos can be seen here.