Hailed by Chamber Music magazine for “pioneering achievements of the highest order,” the PRISM Quartet partners with Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in Philadelphia and 3-Legged Dog in New York City to co-present Breath Beneath, a pilot project that explores the intersection of music, interactive technology, and durational visual art. The Philadelphia program is presented under the umbrella of the Fringe Festival.
Breath Beneath is the first phase—and first public presentation—of a multi-year “Discovery” initiative, supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Reaching across disciplines, the PRISM Quartet (saxophones) joins forces with two intrepid creative teams to investigate how saxophonists’ movements and sounds can be used to generate images—and how those images shape musical interpretation.
Cha by filmmaker Bill Morrison, composer Julia Wolfe, and programmer Ryan Holsopple (world premiere)
Video artist Bill Morrison uses infrared cameras and air sensors to visualize breath passing through saxophones by having PRISM “blow” MIDI-triggered video images onto a scrim hung in front of the quartet. Images are generated by the Quartet performing Julia Wolfe’s “Cha.” The piece was inspired by Wolfe’s childhood memories of dancing with her late father. Wolfe describes it as “a play on Latin dance tune fragments, bass lines and vocal trills made messy with cross rhythms and bursts of song.” Wolfe originally envisioned “Cha” (commissioned and premiered by PRISM in 2015) as a collaboration with Morrison; Breath Beneath is PRISM’s first opportunity to present “Cha” as she imagined it.
Waveguide Model I by filmmaker Mark DeChiazza and composer Dan Trueman (world premiere)
Dan Trueman—composer, fiddler, electronic musician, and co-founder of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra—composes and programs an interactive musical work titled “Waveguide Model I.” Trueman collaborates with filmmaker Mark DeChiazza to generate (in DeChiazza’s words) “a responsive system of projected imagery that functions in a manner analogous to breath.” DeChiazza explains: “I want to explore a territory outside commonly practiced modes of interactivity between sound and visual media that map music’s pitch or volume to determine the density, speed, and/or rhythm of visual events. To look for an apparent cause and effect logic that is not: louder or higher equals more or bigger.”
Trueman notes that “performance technologies are most compelling when there is an element of feedback between performers and technology, each influencing the other, making the technologies crucial to how the music is performed and experienced by the players, giving them real and meaningful agency.” Trueman envisions “Waveguide Model I” as a piece in which “sound and video work at cross-purposes, moving ideas about breath and time beyond body and machine.” PRISM performs Trueman’s commission within “a real-time interactive system that could expressively shape and animate a breathing visual world,” created jointly by Trueman and DeChiazza.
The program includes “Hymn” by Kati Agócs (New England Conservatory) with film by Eli Stine and first-time PRISM Quartet performances of “The Body of Your Dreams” and “Heartbreakers” by Dutch “avant-pop” composer/videographer Jacob TV. These works test the limits of traditional (non-interactive) video projection, illuminating the evolution of media technology.
“Cha” by filmmaker Bill Morrison, composer Julia Wolfe, and programmer Ryan Holsopple (world premiere)
“Waveguide Model I” by filmmaker Mark DeChiazza and composer Dan Trueman (world premiere)
“Hymn” by filmmaker Eli Stine and composer Kati Agócs
“Heartbreakers” by filmmaker Jan Boiten and composer Jacob TV
“The Body of Your Dreams” by composer/videographer Jacob TV
Panel Discussion / Q & A
The Philadelphia program is followed by a panel discussion moderated by Victoria Brooks, curator of time-based visual arts at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (Troy, NY).
The Philadelphia performance of Breath Beneath is co-presented by PRISM Quartet, Inc. and Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design as part of the 2017 Fringe Festival.
The New York performance of Breath Beneath is co-presented by PRISM Quartet, Inc. and 3-Legged Dog.
Support for the research and development of Breath Beneath has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Dan Trueman’s commission was supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support comes from New Music USA (to follow the Breath Beneath as it unfolds, visit the New Music USA project page or PRISM’s Breath Beneath blog), the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Conn-Selmer, Inc. The New York program receives additional support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
PRISM Quartet, Inc. also receives support from the Presser Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation, the Samuel S. Fels Fund, the Amphion Foundation, New Music USA’s Cary New Music Performance Fund, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and New Music USA’s NYC New Music Impact Fund, made possible with funding from The Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund.
Drexel University URBN Center Annex, Black Box Theater
3401 Filbert Street Philadelphia, PA 19104
September 14, 2017
7:00 PM (panel discussion @ 8 PM). Advance ticket purchases may be made online or at the Fringe Box Office. Tickets may be purchases at the venue starting 1 hour prior to performance. ORDER TICKETS EARLY, LIMITED SEATING!
Box office contact info:
Fringe Box Office: 140 N Columbus Blvd (at Race St) in Philadelphia, (215) 413-1318
80 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10006
September 15, 2017
8:00 PM. ORDER TICKETS EARLY, LIMITED SEATING! Tickets available starting 8/14.
Box office contact info:
Brown Paper Tickets: (800) 838-3006