On December 9, 11, 12 and 13, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will present Lightning at our feet, The Ridge Theater and Michael Gordon’s multimedia song cycle inspired by Emily Dickinson. Co-commissioned by Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston and BAM for the 2008 Next Wave Festival, this work reunites Michael Gordon and The Ridge Theater, the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed Decasia (2001): Bill Morrison (films), Laurie Olinder (projections) and Bob McGrath (stage direction). Lightning at our feet straddles arts genres, giving Dickinson’s poetry mobility in music while encompassing her words in a world of visual imagery. 

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One Response to “Lightning at our Feet”
  1. Chris Becker says:

    I am very interested in creatively blending live performance with other mediums. That’s something I’ve been able to do a lot since relocating to NYC – collaborate on pieces that combine dance, clay, film, etc all in the same piece. And I’ve read what I can about this piece (which premiered in Houston) and I’ve experienced Michael Gordon’s Decasia in the flesh.

    All that said, I can’t help but feel like what this (Lightning…) is is a series of visually pretty tableaux accompanied by music that doesn’t really do anything to illuminate Dickinson’s poetry. And the music seems to suck the life out of the words which is bizarre.

    Now I’m basing this on a very limited experience with this piece via what I’ve seen and heard on the web. But in the context of what goes up at BAM it seems like more and more of the same. That is, pretty stage pictures, emotionally staid vocal performances, and a superficial amalgam of past and contemporary creative souls.

    There seems to be a push in the “new music” community to reach out and lull our audiences. To give them something they can “understand” and “relate to” which usually means the same as describe to a friend at a party or in a blog or newsprint review. The same concepts that go into creating a Starbucks are being applied by composers in programming and even composing music. Lightning… then is very much a part of the group think in this city.

    BUT – again, the concept of the piece grabs me. It’s a part of my genre – so I’m always going to lend and ear (and my eyes) to anyone scrambling the notion of traditional concert music. But some of what I say above has been bugging me as of late, so I thought I’d throw it all out there and see what anyone else has to say.

    Are we now in the business of creating placid “packages” of visuals and sound that we can tour with the assurance that noone who experiences the music will be offended?

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