April 28, 2011
Percussion ensemble takes audience to the movies
Temporal Mechanics Union, the percussion ensemble resident at Cowley
College, will present their “Move Night” concert Thursday,
May 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert Brown Theatre. Admission is free
and open to the public. The ensemble’s performance will feature
new scores for a number of classic silent movies from the very earliest
era of film, as well as pieces inspired by more recent movies.
The concert will actually begin in the Earle N. Wright Community Room, as part of the “Life: Through Words & Lens” reception by Cowley College student writers, artists and photographers. “It is always a great pleasure for us to collaborate with humanities and fine arts students,” says Chris Mayer, musical director for the group. “Cowley has always nurtured the creative and artistic abilities of students, and it is only natural that we combine our talents.”
TMU will lead the audience from the Wright Room into the theater playing Brazilian rhythms, ending with a performance of Aquarela do Brasil, a classic samba tune that was the theme to Terry Gilliam’s 1985 movie Brazil.
Next, TMU will present a semi-composed score for what may be the oldest existing science fiction movie, Georges Méliès’ Voyage dans la Lune (Voyage to the Moon).
“Even if you’ve never seen this short film, there are images in it that you have seen many other places,” Mayer said. “It has inspired many other films and videos since its release in 1902.”
The ensemble will also perform new scores for a short German experimental film from 1923 entitled Rhythmus 21, and for the classic 1921 Japanese movie Goketsu Jiraiya (Goketsu the Hero), by the legendary director Shozo Makino. This film was the first time ninjas and samurai appeared on film. In keeping with the Japanese theme, the ensemble will play Ryuchi Sakamoto’s theme to the 1983 movie Merry Christmas, Mister Lawrence that starred David Bowie.
The 90-minute concert will conclude with an expanded version of an original film the group debuted last December, The Myths of Bharam Chak. This film uses shadow puppetry, an invented language and experimental music to tell an archetypal story of a trickster character who steals “The Secret of Time,” only to return it when everything falls out of balance.
This is the fourth concert to feature the ensemble’s new self-built microtonal instruments. Microtones refer to specific pitches found “in-between” the black and white keys of a conventional piano. TMU uses a tuning system called 31 EDO, or 31 equal division of the octave, for a total of 31 pitches between one C and another on the keyboard. So far as their research has shown, TMU is the only percussion ensemble in the United States to specialize in this tuning system.
Temporal Mechanics Union is an all-ability, community based ensemble. Anyone may join, no matter what his or her previous musical experience. More information on this concert, and on the ensemble, can be found at www.tmu.cdmayer.net, or by calling 620-441-5229. TMU also have a YouTube channel and a Facebook page. The members of Temporal Mechanics Union are Zach Barrett, Wayne Farley, Mike Fell, Bryan McChesney and Josh Waldorf.