May 11, 2012
TMU continues year-long celebration with concert
Continuing the celebration of their 10th performance season with a new concert of traditional rhythms, experimental music and percussion theatre, the Temporal Mechanics Union performed its latest concert Thursday in Cowley College’s Robert Brown Theatre.
“It was a fine performance by the Mechanics,” TMU member Chris Mayer said. “We were very successful in our first venture streaming live on the internet. We always welcome new members, and are looking forward to a big blow-out for our 10th anniversary concert in December.”
TMU will also host Playing for Change Day, Saturday, September 22 in the Robert Brown Theatre. This all-day marathon charity concert is a benefit for the Playing for Change Foundation, which supports music education programs in developing countries.
On Thursday, TMU returned to the mythic setting of Bharam Chak to tell the story of 14 Copper Monkey, who must go on a quest to retrieve the Sword of Harmony, the only weapon that can defeat the forces of chaos attacking the Universe. 14 Copper Monkey and the other of the inhabitants of his world will be portrayed by shadow puppets created by Cowley College art students under the direction of faculty member and TMU performer Mike Fell.
The members of TMU performed the shadow puppet play to make a video that was seen in the concert. The ensemble performed the musical score live on a collection of traditional and orchestral instruments, as well as instruments the ensemble designed and built. An original story, The Myths of Bharam Chak was instantly recognizable to everyone familiar with classical mythology, fantasy literature and movies, and folklore traditions from around world.
The concert began with the traditional Basque rhythm txalaparta, played on wooden boards. The ensemble then presented The Bells of Mount Athos, a musical portrait of the Greek Orthodox Christian community that has inhabited that site for centuries. This original composition is based on the patterns of the bells played in the churches and monasteries at Mount Athos.
Wayne Farley's composition da da da dit dit da was an experimental piece, using Morse Code as the rhythmic basis. The rhythms of the piece actually spelled out the name of the ensemble and other phrases. In a similar vein, Clocks by Frank McCarty uses orchestral percussion instruments to evoke the workings of various clocks and other mechanical timepieces.
As 2012 is also the centenary year for John Cage, TMU performed his work Radio Music, a piece which may become impossible to perform in just a few years as radio becomes increasingly digital. Written in 1956, the composition calls for ensemble members to tune through various radio frequencies. The piece is therefore made of the static and clear signals that can be received.
And as a special feature, TMU performed Minnesota composer Todd Harper's Urban Sparrow Dreams, combining percussion music and spoken work to tell the story of a mighty spirit that's bigger than the world that holds it.
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 ensemble can be found at www.tmu.cdmayer.net, or by calling 620-441-5229.
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