Annual Festival of New Musics kicks off

by Hank Leukart | 4/30/98 5:00am

Tonight at the Festival of New Musics, students can finally discover the answer to the one question they have pondered for years: what do a hydraulis, Squiggy and shakuhachi all have in common? The answer, of course, is that each is a musical instrument.

Actually, Squiggy is a "piece of software ... that allows for the real-time creation, manipulation and playback sound sound-images called sonograms," but this will become apparent at the performance.

The Festival of New Musics unveils annually and showcases modern electronic and instrumental music. Dartmouth faculty and students compose most of the music and the Festival often features multimedia and atypical instrumentation.

Music professor Kui Dong described the show, which is her Dartmouth directorial debut, as "funny but odd."

She explained that the Festival intertwines acoustic music, computer generated music, video and other types of multimedia into one massive performance.

"The images are avant-garde abstract images," she said. "The sound is uh, well, you can't explain it." She said that much of the performance will be run by a Macintosh computer to display images and play sound.

Undergraduates Brian Cina '98 and Onche Ugbabe '98 appear in the performance. Cina will premiere his piece, titled "Friendly Fire," about the death of soldiers by their own military regime during battle. Cina is finishing a Senior Fellowship in composition and will premiere the piece "Life Wind" next month in Collis Commonground.

Ugbabe's piece, "Abo Mkpang -- Impressions," attempts to "express elements of West African music in a piece composed in the Western Classical tradition," according to the program notes. The title of the piece refers to the home of Nigeria's last rain forest and a trip Ugbabe took to the forest. The piece aspires to convey "images of the towering trees, exotic flora and fauna and the mysterious sounds of the night" of the forest.

Graduate student Colby Leider will use a computer to recreate the sound of a hydraulis, an "ancient water-organ of the Greeks."

Also in the program is a performance by Professor Jon Appleton, who played a major role in this month's SEAMUS Festival, and Matt Bucy. They will be premiering a video titled "Moscow Meat: Soviet Artists in White River Junction, Vermont." The video will explore the lives of four former Soviet artists living in Vermont, one of whom is a chef at the Polka Dot Diner, and another who is an auto mechanic.

The Festival of New Music is tonight at 8 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium.