Monday, October 31, 2011


Wishing one and all a Happy Halloween!

Don't forget to make a shrine to your departed loved ones today, or leave an offering down at the Dia de los Muertos altar at the MAH to welcome them back between now and Wednesday, All Souls Day. If you're not already partied out from the weekend, enjoy the gift of this beautiful day and what promises to be another clear, starry night for all your Halloween festivities.

Speaking of parties, how cool did the Rio Theatre look Friday and Saturday nights for New Music Works' Metropolis event? Take a look at artist Dag Weiser presenting the 8' x 20' Art Deco Berlin cityscape he and partner Leslie Murray crafted out of cardboard for the Rio lobby (complete with a little silver biplane circling overhead).

It was the perfect backdrop to the opening night reception on Friday, celebrating the World Premiere of Phil Collins' new musical soundtrack, which was performed live by the NMW Ensemble as Fritz Lang's 1927 Deco-Futurust masterpiece unspooled. Major kudos to Maestro Collins for his evocative and thoroughly integrated score (not to mention the Herculean task of conducting it live throughout the film's daunting two-hour length).

Simmering electronic effects used to underscore the building tension in the first half gave way to sweeping themes of sustained drama and power in the climactic second half. I especially liked the sly and inventive use of choral voices throughout, performed by the Ariose Singers, and soprano Colleen Donovan.

Meanwhile, out in the lobby, concertgoers were encouraged to attend in 1920s chic, Futurist, or Steampunk costumes. I did my bit, posing here in front of the Weiser-Murray wall, just to give you a sense of scale. Even though the piece is technically flat, notice how the layering of cardboard surfaces (not to mention the extraordinary painting techniques) give it all a 3-D effect.

Overall, it was a great launch for a wonderful score that, in a just world, ought to be permanently attached to all future screenings of Metropolis. (It certainly blows Giorgio Moroder's patchwork score of '80s pop tunes right out of the water.) Hearing it performed live was a special pleasure. My only suggestion for future NMW events would be to have someone come out to welcome the audience, thank the sponsors, and introduce the performers before the show, to amp up the sense of community and excitement. A live performance is an adventure the performers and audience take together, and it's nice to acknowledge everyone as part of the team.

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