Electronic concert impressive to fans of avant-garde music

Pruis Hall was home last night to an array of bleeps, mechanical noises, natural acoustic sounds and electronically-altered voices as the year's second electronic music concert, "Utterances," was presented in full surround sound. Unlike traditional musical concerts, no live performers were onstage; the prerecorded compositions were strategically mixed and moved around the speakers by sound engineers seated in the middle of the hall.

The concert began with two pieces by the Swedish composer Sten Hanson, "How Are You," and "Che." The first opened with a blast of sound like blowing wind and climaxed with unintelligible human voices. The second piece consisted of a short segment, in Spanish, of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara speaking.

Next came "Come Out," a work by Steve Reich which featured the phrase, "Come out to show them," looped for over 13 minutes, with the sound coming out of the left and right sides of speakers, gradually becoming out of time with one another. The words were spoken by a boy who had been beaten by New York City policemen testifying in court about his traumatic experience.

"Arturo," a piece created by Eleainie Lillios, was inspired by an interview she had with a Texas tarot card reader. Between alarmingly loud segments of electronically-mutated sounds that could have been the soundtrack for a horror movie, an accented male voice spoke cryptic phrases like, "There is no such thing as a self-fulfilled prophecy."

After a brief intermission came the work, "Tag till..." which documented composer James Paul Sain's daily commute to his job through mechanical sounds and the recorded voice of a subway engineer.

The evening's finale was French composer Michel Chion's "Requiem," which, was also the longest piece of the concert. Chion's work featured everything from muted church bells to passages spoken in Latin and German amidst dissonant electronic whining and pulsating noises.

While the compositions were interesting, and even thrilling at their best, the bizarre sounds emanating from Pruis were likely inaccessible to all but devout followers of the electronic genre -- such avant-garde work is rarely appreciated by first-time listeners.


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