One of the most challenging and intriguing works that we are performing on tour is the trio Force.Line.Border written this year by Dr. Casey Farina. Casey is also a Glendale Community College colleague- in the past he has taught percussion and electronic music in our department, but now teaches animation and graphics in the GCC Arts Department.
I was lucky to perform on the premiere with Crossing 32nd Street (in this case myself, Joseph Perez and Robert Esler) as part of Casey’s recent show at The Icehouse. The Icehouse is one of my favorite Phoenix venues (with many fond memories of excellent performances). Casey certainly ranks among the most interesting and urbane artists in Phoenix. My wife, choreographer Mary Fitzgerald, premiered her Weight of Light there in collaboration with Glenn Hackbarth and Natalia Jaeger, and Crossing 32nd Street presented our James Tenney Fest there several years ago, with Larry Polansky. I have also been involved at the venue several times as part of the Downtown Chamber Series. I even once attended a rave there, as I recall. Even among those great events, Casey’s was undoubtedly a highlight. A video of that performance can be found here.
Casey certainly ranks among the most interesting and urbane artists in Phoenix. Mary also premiered a new work, with Casey and urbanSTEW’s Jessica Rajko at the same show. It was, for myriad reasons, my favorite dance work in recent memory.
I have known Casey for many years. He was an undergrad percussion major at ASU when I was pursuing my doctorate (when I first met him, he had an afro), and I collaborated with him on several marching percussion projects, to varying degrees of success. Over the years his aesthetic has become very specific and refined, and the result is an identifiable and unique form of new media art.
I performed his work bitsmoke several years ago with the GCC Percussion Ensemble. It is an engaging quartet that a highly recommend to any ensemble directors (regardless of genre) in search of an abstract and elegant yet accessible work to program. force.line.border takes the ideas of bitsmoke “to the next level.”
In describing the work, Casey states that
Force.Line.Border is an animated graphic score for a trio of indeterminate instrumentation. This work is the latest in a series of animated graphic scores that builds on the concepts developed by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Cornelius Cardew, and Earle Brown using abstract visual imagery to define musical events. The animated score is projected into the space and the musicians perform composed improvisations derived from their interpretation of the image. Each of the performers is responsible for one third of the frame as the piece gradually shifts between solo phrases and ensemble statements.
For our tour Barry and I each are performing the left and right parts. Barry is performing using a WACOM tablet via Max 6, and I am performing on sampler, Abelton Live and a battery of piezo-mic’ed found instruments (an homage to Barry’s ASU West colleague Richard Lerman). When we play the work as a duo, we are accompanied by a prerecorded center track, performed by Rob Esler with some my electronic manipulation. In several tour stops we will be collaborating with a local artist. Dr. Eric Schultz’ students at Chabot College, Dr. Terry Longshore at Southern Oregon University and Dr. Fred Bugbee at New Mexico State University are already on board.
The piece is visually stunning, hopefully we can hold up our end of the bargain sonically….