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December 6, 2013

TMU performs the Myths of Bharam Chak III


TMUThe culmination of decades of experimentation and creativity led to the Temporal Mechanics Union’s performance of Myths of Bharam Chak III, Thursday in the Robert Brown Theatre.

The concert began in the Earle N. Wright Community Room, adjacent to the theatre in the Brown Center, when TMU led the audience from the Life: Through Words and Lens student showcase. TMU played samba rhythms to move the audience from one event to the other.

“The concert went very well,” TMU founder Chris Mayer said. “We had a great audience, both live and online. Many thanks to Marlys (Cervantes) and Meg (Smith) for letting us merge the two events. Their displays were fantastic. The creativity of Cowley students is a force to be reckoned with.”

Bharam Chak is an imaginary world created by Chris Mayer, the founder and musical director of TMU. He was initially inspired by the works and philosophy of American composer Harry Partch. Partch designed and built his own instruments using non-standard tuning systems, and created a performance practice he called “corporeality.” This means a performance that includes music, visual, dramatic and movement elements, to create a more involving experience for the audience.

Mayer began work on Bharam Chak while an undergraduate percussion student at Wichita State University.

The Mythos of Bharam Chak comprised three main movements, or myths, that tell stories from the imaginary world. These stories were acted out by shadow puppets designed and built by various Cowley College art students. Shown on video, the puppets added the dramatic visual element of the performance, and created characters and situations the audience could identify with. Each myth was a quest story, of the kind familiar to fans of science fiction and fantasy literature and video games. The spoken portion of the shadow puppet plays was done in a constructed language, also devised by Mayer.

These three movements were linked together by musical segments that draw upon the experimental material of the Bharam Chak compositions.

TMU’s next main stage concert in 2014 will be getting back to a “hands-on” approach. There will be lots of hand drumming in various traditional styles, free improvisation pieces, and some more experimental chamber music.

“I want to loosen things up a bit, after the formal demands of a performance like Bharam Chak,” Mayer said. “In addition to our May concert at Cowley, we will have a few other performances through the spring.”

Music and shadow puppetry was performed by Chris Mayer, Zach Barrett, Wayne Farley, Mike Fell, Lynne Hunter, Bryan McChesney, Indigo Pohlman, Josh Waldorf, and Mitchell Wright.

Shadow puppets and props realized by Michael Bowling, Sebastian Garcia, Marc Hunt, Joeni Johnson, Kat Lowe, Cody Parris-Miller, Haleigh Sills, Jessie Vega, and Caleb Walker.

Art direction was done by Mike Fell, while the original Bharam Chak architecture was done by Mark Flickinger. Technical direction and lighting was handled by Jamison Rhoads.

Those interested in joining the group can contact Mayer through the TMU Facebook page.

View photo gallery.