The Orpheus chamber music ensemble isn’t just Beethoven and Brahms. That much was evident at Sunday’s notable concert at Fresno State. The first part of the program paired up some fine young dancers from Clovis’ In the Spotlight Dance Center with music from Fresno area composers. The second half was a video presentation of a new version of “60×60,” an ongoing series that showcases contemporary composers in 60-second slices. Fresno State’s Brad Hufft introduced both parts of the program.
In the dance portion, two of the composers were in the audience: Jack Fortner and Benjamin Boone. In a sweet touch, Boone brought his sons Atticus and Asher, which had a special significance considering the title of Boone’s piece: “Atticus, Atticus.” The three of them are pictured (Atticus is seated, and his brother Asher is standing behind his father. Too cute.)
The program didn’t list the three dancers’ names. (If anyone from In the Spotlight can fill me in, I’d like to include them.) Their modern dance moves were keyed to the music in interesting and vigorous ways, from the emphatic looped-and-spliced recitations of text in Charles Amirkhanian’s piece to the charged aural disorder of Boone’s piece.
Boone was the local connection in the “60×60″ screening. He’s worked for years with Robert Voisey, the New York composer who produces the series. Different “mixes” of “60×60″ are released from time to time (there has been an international and a West Coast version, for example) and in this one — the “Presenters’” mix — each of the 60 composers agreed to host a presentation.
Basically each program stitches together 60 short pieces uninterrupted, for an hour total of some very weird and wonderful music. Genres this time around included text-sound, ambient, environmental, tech-house, rock and just plain noise. (One of the best pieces sounded like a bunch of rhythmic zippers.) Each segment is matched with work from video artists, with many of the selections consisting of the wild throb and flicker of out-there computer-aided design. Boone’s piece ended up in a sort of awkward position as the accompaniment to a death scene in a story arc about a computer-animated “Timeman” that extended through a number of the 60-second segments. But that’s the fun of a collaborative effort like this: You send a piece of music off and don’t know how it will be interpreted.
Overall, I couldn’t have had a wider experience of musical styles than this weekend between the Fresno Philharmonic’s “Beloved Beethoven” concert and Orpheus. But I’m really glad I went to both.