By Mabel Kwan, Pianist
Dal Niente's preseason game started in August with a photo shoot at Architectural Artifacts. The beautiful thing about having a shoot before the season begins is that it gets everyone together in one place and it reminds you of this larger thing you are a part of.
This would be a guiding principle for our rehearsal a few hours later that day, as we were preparing Hexis by George Lewis for a performance at Rush Hour Concerts. We would also record the piece at the end of the month, along with his recent chamber works Mnemosis, Assemblage, and The Mangle of Practice for Dal Niente's forthcoming album of his notated compositions. George was kind enough to make time for us in Chicago and worked with us at the concert, rehearsals, and recording session.
In George's music the sense of community between composer, performer, listener is magnified. George is always interested in what sort of sounds the performer has ready in their own "back pocket" to bring to the piece. His music is a constant act of doing and being in the moment of it, whether you are playing or listening. There's a section in Mnemosis where I sit out, and everyone else is freaking out on their instruments. They sound like a marching band on acid. Sometimes I am digging this section so hard I forget to play my next entrance. But that's the listener's role in all of this--no, not to play my entrance, but to improvise their own composition in the moment they are hearing it. Audience, performer, and composer are always co-collaborators in the music.
In our next photo shoot, we're gonna have to get all y'all in there.