Saturday, June 18, 2011

Amy X. Neuburg at Present Music

I just got home from a concert in Milwaukee by Present Music in which the ensemble played two pieces on its own.  In the first half, they performed Wynton Marsalis's Hellbound Highway--Movement #5 from At the Octoroon Balls (1995).  In the second half, they played Far Variations by Kamran Ince.  Both pieces were very approachable and highly entertaining to listen to.

However, not as entertaining as the featured artist, Amy X. Neuburg.  This is the second time that the Oakland, California, based musician has visited Milwaukee to play with Present Music.  My recollection of her last visit, in 2006, was that she mostly played a solo concert accompanied by her many machines. 

Tonight, Neuburg played nine pieces accompanied by Present Music musicians--and her machines.  There was not a weak moment in her entire performance.  While her music has a performance piece aspect to it, that in no way diminishes the quality of the music and the thematic content of each song.

While her messages are full of the angst of living in a world that does not always honor her sensibilities, her charisma from the stage and her dramatic presentation of the song, including her four octave range, all make her a sympathetic messenger for some rather sad and occasionally dark tomes.  Poetry abounds in each piece.  It was an amazing night and I picked up her CD, The Secret Language of Subways featuring the Cello Chixtet (2009). 

Here is a sample of Amy X. Neuburg for your enjoyment (doing a piece with a cellos while tonight we had one cello, three violins, a clarinet and percussion to back her up):

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