2010-05-14 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Music Inspired By Our Past
by Susan Hartenstein

Internationally recognized Quintet of the Americas performs a free concert on Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m. in sTudio 7 Gallery at the Rockaway Center for the Arts, Fort Tilden. Internationally recognized Quintet of the Americas performs a free concert on Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m. in sTudio 7 Gallery at the Rockaway Center for the Arts, Fort Tilden. UPCOMING: Quintet of the Americas performing new music in multimedia sound-surround presentation about geologic evolution of NY. Sun., May 16, 2 p.m. See column for more details.

“What excites you most about this music?”

“The idea of music inspired by nature. It’s fun to play along with all these sounds. For example, the toad fish is turned into a drum sound – very evocative of American Indian music. I like doing new music that nobody else has heard.”

So responds Barbara Oldham, director of the Quintet of the Americas, which will present a free concert of new music inspired by the “Mannahatta Project” and a panel discussion in sTudio 7 Gallery on May 16 at 2 p.m.

The discussion will feature an exploration of the Project and the artists involved in the music to which it gave rise.

As you know from last week, the Project is the concept of Dr. Eric Sanderson, Associate Director for Landscape Ecology and Geographic Analysis for the Wildlife Con-servation Society. He is an expert in conservation ecology and species conservation planning. The Manna-hatta Project has reconstructed the original ecology of Manhattan Island at the time Europeans (Henry Hudson) first encountered the island in 1609.

The Project analyzed the changes that have occurred, in an attempt to learn the natural cycles and processes from our past. The ultimate purpose is to shape a better environment for our present and future. The biodiversity of that long-ago deciduous forest rivaled those of Yellowstone and Yosemite. Sanderson worked from maps drawn at the time of Hudson and over the last 400 years, Hudson’s diaries and other reference materials.

To learn more about the Mannahatta Project, visit the site: www.themannahattaproject. org

Oldham says that the quintet thought it would be “cool to commission pieces inspired by what [Sanderson] was doing.” Sanderson was excited by the concept.

Ken-Cro-Ken, an environmental artist, was brought into the quintet’s project. Oldham felt it appropriate to use his painting of Connecticut and Long Island for the album cover of Christopher Kaufman’s “Hudson River Quintet,” one of the works commissioned for the quintet’s Mannahatta series to be performed on Sunday.

The only piece that will be performed Sunday that was not commissioned for the series is “Ellis Island” by Stuart Balcomb, written in the 1980s. Also included in the musically diverse series that brings the listener through 400 years of our natural history are Mark Danciger’s “Quiet Tide” and Robert Deemer’s “Mannahatta Windows,” which incorporates jazz as well as other musical styles.

In his quintet, Kaufman recorded environmental sounds that would have been heard in the forest, ocean and river Hudson encountered – whales, bears, birds, among others – and uses them like instruments, Oldham explains.

In a kind of counterpoint, the music the instruments play represents human reactions to those surround sounds of the environment. The audience becomes immersed in the natural world of New York in 1609.

The Quintet of the Americas was founded in Bogota, Colombia in 1976 and specializes in bringing new music from the Western Hemisphere to audiences in the United States. Based in this country, the internationally recognized group has performed in concert venues throughout the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe.

Members are Sato Moughalian, flute; Matt Sullivan, oboe; Nicholas Gallas, clarinet; Barbara Oldham, horn; and Maureen Strenge, bassoon.

To learn more about the group: www.quintet.org
Phone: 718-474-0861; Fax: 718-474-
4373; e-mail: info@raa116.-org;
website: www.rockawayartistsalliance.
kidsmART corner:
Look forward to next week’s
write-up of the celebration that
brought the kidsmART 2010 season
to a finale.
Fort Tilden Highlights

PRESENT RAA EXHIBIT: “40 Shades of Green” in sTudio 7, Rockaway Center for the Arts (RoCA) at Fort Tilden. On view through May 23. Gallery hrs: Sat. and Sun. 12-4 p.m. and by appointment. Free admission.. NEXT WRITERS GROUP MEETING: Sun., May 23 in sTudio 7, 4 – 6 p.m. ART CLASSES FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS: Classes include digital photography, drawing and guitar. Call RAA office for details. PAINTING CLASSES FOR ADULTS: “Painting With Geoff Rawling”: Tues. 7-9 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.-12 noon. sTudio 6. $15 per class, supplies included. “Experiencing Watercolor With Bob Bainbridge”: Wed., 7:30-9:30 p.m. sTudio 6. $20 per class or sign up in advance for four consecutive classes in one month for $75 (a $5 value), supplies included.

THURS. NIGHT OPEN MIC: Performing artists of all disciplines invited. sTudio 7 stage. Sign-up: 7:45 p.m. Start time: 8 p.m. Join us. Free.

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