By KAMEKO LASHLEE
The orchestra is a centuries-old pastime, and it’s as good an excuse as any to get dressed up, go out on the town and listen to euphonious music. In recent years, however, classical music has been associated with boredom and stuffiness. In a world that evolves ceaselessly to satiate our need for constant entertainment at breakneck speed, one could argue classical concertos are becoming a thing of the past. Kristin Lee, artistic director and violinist for Emerald City Music, ventures to break that stereotype with her company’s production of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.
Reich was one of the founding fathers of minimalistic composition in the 1960s. He’s credited with bringing elements of maximalism into his minimalism by composing powerful, hypnotic music while adhering to the minimalistic structure of constant, if nearly imperceptible, change. One element setting this piece apart from typical chamber music is its immersive quality as a wander-through concert. Musicians are often positioned throughout a room, freeing listeners to walk around, dance to and appreciate each individual component along with the whole. Lee says she wants to give audience members “the liberty to experience the music wherever, however they want.”
For her, an important goal for this production was an impact in the Pacific Northwest music scene. “Our show actually features 19 musicians,” she says, “so it’s going to be ambitious to fit 19 people into that space … Emerald City Music is only in its third season. It’s still a very young organization, so the challenge component was important to me.”
The Olympia performance will be held in the Kenneth J Minneart auditorium at South Puget Sound Community College, a space renowned for its acoustics. Though this space won’t offer the same, wander-through experience as earlier venues, Lee has ways of making the performance extraordinary. “I’m placing extra emphasis on lighting,” she says. “I’ve been working with a lighting designer, and we’re designing the light displays to pair with the music.” It’ll certainly be a far cry from the typical orchestra concert.
Music for 18 Musicians
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2
Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts, SPSCC,
2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia