EdgEnsemble Performance Features Brain Wave-Controlled Animation

Posted: March 30, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

A performance by edgEnsemble will feature a composition by Steve Antosca, Mason music composition instructor, and a brain wave-controlled animation using EEG and biofeedback created by Paras Kaul, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Art and Visual Technology and coordinator of electronic publications. The presentation will be in Harris Theatre on Friday, April 1, at 8 p.m., preceded by a master class from 3 to 5 p.m. and a preconcert discussion at 7:15 p.m.

EdgEnsemble is a Washington, D.C.-based performance group dedicated to presenting the latest and most exciting works in the field of music and technology, as well as classics in the field of contemporary American music. Using electronics and extended instrumental techniques, edgEnsemble combines music performance with a touch of modern-day performance art.

lotus flower
Digital lotus by Benjamin Nguyen and Paras Kaul

In this groundbreaking performance, Kaul will “accompany” Antosca’s composition, titled “for two,” along with violin and cello. As a member of the orchestra, she will use her brain as her instrument. “My neural responses to the music played on stage will be used to edit sequences in an animation of a lotus flower blooming, which will be viewed as a background for the concert,” Kaul explains. She will use a brain wave interface and computer to control the movement and flow of the animation, which she designed and developed after listening to Antosca’s music.

“I asked Paras to perform brain wave animation live while listening to the performance,” Antosca says. “I have always been interested in the theatrical nature of music performances and not simply a live classical performance of music. This concept lends itself very well to contemporary music. Several of the pieces on the concert, especially George Crumb’s ‘Vox Balaenae,’ have a theatrical quality to them. The performers wear masks and play under deep blue lighting to enhance the effect of the ‘powerful impersonal forces of nature.'”

The master class before the concert, led by Antosca, will feature a discussion and performance of Crumb’s “Mundus Canis (A Dog’s World),” as well as “Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale).” Two other pieces by Crumb will also be presented during the concert: “Four Nocturnes (Night Music II)” and “Eleven Echoes of Autumn (Echo I).”

In addition to Kaul, orchestra members are Lina Bahn, violin; David Whiteside, flute; David Jones, clarinet; Eric Ulreich (BM ’82), guitar; Ignacio Alcovar, cello; Dan Heagney (sophomore at Mason), percussion; and Laurie Hudicek, piano.

The preconcert discussion will include Antosca; Kaul; Hudicek; Glenn Smith and Linda Monson, Music; and Rick Davis, Theater. The panel will address new music, technology, and multimedia issues for concert.

Says student Heagney, who is majoring in percussion performance and also performs with various Mason music ensembles, “I’ve really enjoyed preparing for this concert with the edgEnsemble. They’re one of the few groups dedicated entirely to modern music. This particular performance requires me to use quite a few instruments that are not usually used: maracas, a frame drum, claves, tam-tam, water gong, guiro, and castanets. I also have to use my voice at certain parts.”

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students; Mason students and children under 12 are free. Purchase tickets through the Center for the Arts Box Office or www.tickets.com.

For more information, e-mail newmusic@edgEnsemble.org.

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