Can you immerse an audience in sound? Can you turn a musical composition into an experience akin to something visual, such as a painting or film? Houston-based composer Robert McClure thinks that you can and to prove it, he is premiering his latest project, "Untangle My Tongue," this Friday at the Orange Show.
"Untangle My Tongue" will consist of three pieces of music that celebrate both the "Orange Show's unique space and Houston's natural soundscape." The methods McClure has used to create this work certainly go against the grain. He took some recording equipment and walked around the city capturing all that he heard. Cars, traffic, the MetroRail and the buzzing of wildlife are all incorporated into the piece. The Orange Show itself was another inspiration. "While my sounds were deliberately ordered, Houston, a character in itself, will provide an improvisatory element for this performance," says McClure.
Additionally, McClure collaborated with poet Anne Shaw to intermingle her text into the music. It's not just lyrics or putting words to music. Her poetry is woven into the music; the music and words were written for and because of each other.
The Orange Show approached McClure with the idea of doing a performance at the space, and he jumped at the chance to bring his compositions into an unconventional locale. His ideas and theories of "visualizing" music evolved into one of the compositions that will be performed, titled "Music Box 9." As the piece is performed, McClure hopes the audience feels free to move about and create their own experience. It's an experiment of sorts. McClure describes it as addressing the "...audience as an active participant in the piece..." Such methods are more common in a theater setting and not what you might expect from an orchestra-style concert.
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McClure has assembled what he describes as some "extremely talented players" from both Rice and the University of Houston. Dan Gelok, Saxophone Artist in Residence at UH, and Aaron Guillory, a recent graduate of Rice's Shepherd School of Music with a master's in percussion, are the featured performers for the evening.
As a composer, McClure has kept himself very busy. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in Music Composition at Rice and teaching courses simultaneously.
"Untangle My Tongue" may be a hard concept to grasp on paper. Experimental music, especially when designed for an interactive audience, is always better seen and not read. If an experience is what you are gunning for this Friday night, go live it for yourself.
"Untangle My Tongue" at the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. Friday, April 13, 6 p.m.-9.p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and at the door. Purchase tickets online at www.orangeshow.org/en/cev/99