January 25-27, 2007, “Decasia Live at Angel Orensanz” will mark just the third time in five years that audiences will have the opportunity to experience this work as it was originally conceived by its makers: a live site-specific multimedia performance with a full size orchestra.
"Decasia" came about when The Europaischer Musikmonat (European Music Month) commissioned composer Michael Gordon to write a symphony to be performed by the 55-piece Basel Sinfonietta and to be staged by Ridge Theater. At the 2001 premiere performance, the Basel Sinfonietta stood on a triangular pyramid 3 tiers high, completely surrounding the audience within. Bill Morrison's acclaimed film was created as part of this original production using Michael Gordon's music as its soundtrack. In 2002, Cantaloupe Music released a cd of live recordings of these performances.
A remarkable piece of experimental cinema and new classical music, "Decasia" has reached an audience that is unprecedented by a work of its kind. Two months after the Basel performances, "Decasia" premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, and quickly developed an ardent cult following. In December 2002, the film premiered on the Sundance Channel and the New York Times Magazine ran a feature by Lawrence Weschler in which he described watching it for the first time: “I found myself completely absorbed, transfixed, dumbstruck, a pillow of air lodged in my stilled open mouth, which I don’t think I thereupon managed to close for the next seventy minutes."
J. Hoberman of the Village Voice listed “Decasia” as one of his ten favorite films of 2003, calling it “that rare thing: a movie with avant-garde and universal appeal, inspiring trembling and gratitude.” The film ultimately became the subject of five more New York Times articles, in which it was described as “a cult classic” and “a landmark opus.” The Philadelphia Inquirer said: “If a great, innovative film has been made in the last few years, this is it."
But nothing approximates the sheer power of the live environmental performance. “Decasia Live” was remounted in the original site-specific format again at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2004. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross described the 2004 St. Ann’s performances as:
“The darkest, grandest noise of the musical season so far—the fanfare to an angry American autumn—was Michael Gordon’s film symphony “Decasia,” as played by fifty-five furiously committed students from the Manhattan School of Music, at St. Ann’s Warehouse, in Brooklyn. The performance took place back in September, but the experience is still burned in my mind…Gordon’s score weds the hypnotic aura of minimalism to the detuned snarl of highbrow punk. It packs a punch on CD, but it needs a live performance to unveil all its power…Even as “Decasia” celebrates raw sound, it summons an atmosphere of dread. Too many of its images resemble Cold War footage of structures vaporizing in nuclear tests. Why, then, are you left with a visceral thrill? Perhaps it’s the joy of surviving what looks and sounds like the end of the world.”
Now in January, audiences will have the opportunity to see this remarkable piece of art live with music performed by The Manhattan School of Music's Contemporary Ensemble, TACTUS, at the Angel Orensanz Center on the Lower East Side. Originally designed as a synagogue in 1840 by Berlin architect Alexander Seltzer and inspired by the cathedral of Cologne and the German romantic movement of Heinrich Heine and Beethoven, the Angel Orensanz Center has become a beacon of education and culture in the city of New York. The marriage of this piece and this performance space will be an event not to be missed and not to be forgotten.
January 25, 26, & 27 at 7:00pm and 9:30pm nightly.
Angel Orensanz Center for the Arts, 172 Norfolk St., New York.
Tickets $25 advance, available through TheaterMania.com
Friday, January 19, 2007
If you're in NYC....
I received an extremely interesting press release a few weeks ago. If you're in NYC, you might want to check this out: