The show at the Starr Theatre inside Walton Arts Center this week won’t likely be the biggest of the year. It may, however, be one of the most interesting live music events to come through Fayetteville in 2010.
Composer, filmmaker, director and performer Mikel Rouse, who according to the New York Times is considered to be one of the best composers of his generation, will be performing his show “Gravity Radio” on Tuesday evening.
The show is described as “music for string quartet, singers, guitarist, bass, drums and keyboard soaring above and intertwining with ethereal shortwave radio static.” Video created by artist Cliff Baldwin designed to complement the music will be projected throughout the performance.
According to Rouse’s website, the show was inspired by the physicist Raymond Chiao, and his experiments with superconductors and gravity waves. It’s art inspired by science.
“I took the elusiveness of gravity waves as a springboard for a song cycle that would float and mutate through a combination of sound and visual ether,” Rouse wrote.
“Perhaps it is an attempt to recapture or update my first memory of radio in the late 1960s,” Rouse said in a press release. “Motown and British rock fading in from a faraway Chicago station as the local news faded out on my transistor radio, which I put between my head and the pillow late at night.”
Rouse graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri at Kansas City before moving to New York in 1979. He is best know for his trilogy of operas, “Failing Kansas,” (inspired by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood), “Dennis Cleveland,” and “The End Of Cinematics.”
He has been involved in multiple progressive projects. In 2006, he was commissioned for a show scored for multiple iPods set to “shuffle” so that each audience member had a different realization of the score. The music for the piece, International Cloud Atlas, was released exclusively on iTunes and was available for download prior to the premiere.
In other words, Rouse is the Wayne Coyne of Opera.
Gravity Radio is a different type of show entirely, though. It seems hard to describe, but after listening to some of the music that will be performed Tuesday night, I think there’s another way to look at it.
All the talk of radio static, video, gravity waves and superconductors possibly minimizes the fact that Rouse’s show could just as easily be appreciated as good pop music, with good lyrics plus visuals.
Any way you look at it, we don’t get shows like this in Fayetteville very often.
There are two performances scheduled for Tuesday night, one at 7:00 p.m., and one at 9:00 p.m. Both shows include a buy two tickets, get two tickets free deal, and you may purchase them by calling the box office at 443-5600.