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New music shows possibilities of change PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Friday, 18 October 2013 10:45
Composer George Lewis draws inspiration for many sources, from all styles of music, from dance and writing, even from a sewage treatment facility.
The MacArthur Fellow was called upon in 2000 to create an interactive work, an information kiosk for the wastewaster treatment facility in San Diego. The result was "Information Station No. 1" in which visitors interacted with motion capture video screens to see video images and hear audio clips of the scenery and birds surrounding the plant, the workers and the operations in the deepest recesses of the facility.
Lewis said the plant workers have another name for the piece "The Fireplace." They often go there to take breaks.
An updated "Information Station" now called "Hidden Flows" is on exhibit in the Bryan Gallery in the Bowling Green State University's Fine Arts Building.
Lewis is on campus as the featured composer for the New Music Festival. He spoke about "Hidden Flows" and other pieces with a variety of inspirations  during his composer talk on Thursday.
The composer said he was honored to be the featured guest composer. "This festival's been going on for 34 years," he said. "Some of America's greatest and finest composers have been featured in this. I'm honored to be part of that legacy. ... Everyone in my world knows about it."
Lewis, 61, feels fortunate to be part of the history of many artists and movements. That included joining the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago in 1971 while still a teenager.
The collective is still active, and is usually characterized as a movement of jazz musicians. "It was never about creating new forms of jazz," Lewis said. "It was about original music."
All his music, whether densely orchestrated or programmed, fits within the aspirations of the AACM, he said.
His music is without boundaries. Music itself is without boundaries. And he's never found himself restricted by artificial categories. "I've been pretty well supported by my colleagues in various fields."
Those fields are wide ranging from interactive installations including "Hidden Flows" and another at the Vancouver Winter Olympics to performances as a jazz trombonist.
He's programmed a computer so that the machine when hooked up to a piano can interact with musicians and improvise.
And he's composed for ensembles of acoustic instruments of various sizes.
Friday night Ensemble Dal Niente - "an amazing band from my hometown" - will perform a new work written by Lewis for the festival.   
"Part of why we write music is to develop ourselves as individuals," he said.
To create "New Work," he spent many hours conversing Skype with individual members of the ensemble about the capabilities of their instruments.
But music is about more than the individual, he said.
"We write music... also to make interventions in the society. So for example I believe we make new music in order to alert people to the possibility that things can be different than they are. They hear this music and say 'wow, I never heard it quite like that.' They start to look around them and think what else could be different. That's why music can be considered subversive because it makes you think  and the right kind of music can be life changing. So I hope for any music I encounter including mine."
Last Updated on Friday, 18 October 2013 17:09

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