The last two nights we played fun, albeit somewhat sinister, concerts at Steppenwolf’s new 1700 Theater. We were joined by the awesome Richie Reed Parry, who wrote Strange Sun Rise, November 2016 for us. He came in the day before, we hashed through the score, he made changes, we played the first concert, he made more changes, we played the second concert. And still more changes will be made before we perform it again.
Richie regaled us and the audience with the story behind the piece: inspired by Brian Eno’s iconic Music for Airports, it took a turn for the darker side when the election happened. A quiet, beautifully serene landscape just before sunrise morphed into a mashup of images from the openings of Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey with the faces of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Il as the only sources of light. Kinda funny, but also kinda not.
In the tradition of Richie’s heart and breath pieces, Strange Sun Rise also has everyone playing either to their heartbeats or breaths. We all suited up with our stethoscopes, which required an insane amount of medical tape for the boys (but hey, free chest wax!) and a really good bra for the girls. It’s much less comfortable and much less audible than you might think it would be. One doesn’t hear one’s heartbeat so much as feel it through the vise-like earpiece, which seems like a torture device after a few minutes. But out of this pain is born great beauty. Each time we performed it, I was surprised and sad that it ended so soon. We heard from some audience members that they felt similarly, and could have listened to the piece indefinitely.
Aside from our ears being attacked by stethoscopes, there was another unfortunate casualty. Right before the second performance, Nathalie was putting her piccolo together while chatting with me and Lisa in the dressing room when we heard a thud. Her piccolo had slipped through her fingers and fallen on the floor. It seemed fine to the eye, but when she tried playing it, something was obviously wrong. Michael was called over to help diagnose the problem, but they decided it wasn’t fixable, at least by them. So, Nathalie played the whole concert on flute. (Not that anyone could tell…)
The piccolo incident couldn’t have happened at a better time (except for never), because that was our last show of 2016. Nathalie’s taking the picc to the flute doctor today, and all will be well. We’re still rehearsing and working away, preparing for a recording the very first week of 2017, but we’ll be hunkered down in our studio until then.
We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!