‘Mu­sic for 18 Ma­chines’

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Donal Di­neen

This week’s col­umn isn’t just about the sparkling jewel in Steve Re­ich’s crown that is Mu­sic for 18 Mu­si­cians, but about the ex­pe­ri­ence of hear­ing it reimag­ined as Mu­sic for 18 Ma­chines on the hal­lowed ground of St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral dur­ing this year’s St Pa­trick’s week­end fes­tiv­i­ties in Dublin.

Re­ich’s au­da­cious ex­plo­ration of mu­si­cal pat­tern took on new mean­ing and reached new heights on the oc­ca­sion. In a cathe­dral built for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent type of sound, it was an ex­hil­a­rat­ing and up­lift­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Church vis­its are nearly al­ways con­ducted in si­lence. The roar of a jet plane could have gone un­no­ticed dur­ing this one.

There was a touch of magic in its stag­ing at St Pa­trick’s. A church of sound is one I’d very hap­pily sub­scribe to. The all-know­ing god we grew up with should have come clean about the kind of sub-bass a Funk­tion One sound sys­tem can gen­er­ate. Had he done so I would have signed up for life. The sheer force of it made me imag­ine the floor was vi­brat­ing. It was im­mense. Bones of both the liv­ing and the dead rat­tled. Souls were cleansed and sins erased. All sorts of sub-plots were trig­gered by the sound­waves. An­cient and mod­ern rit­ual col­lided.

The mu­sic, in which high-reg­is­ter acous­tic sound (the orig­i­nal en­sem­ble com­prises marim­bas, xy­lo­phone, met­al­li­phone, and women’s voices) evolve har­mon­i­cally to­ward them­selves, is dreamy and deeply hypnotic.

Given the gar­gan­tuan loft of the ceil­ing, qui­eter as­pects of the piece as­sumed new power. The voices were haunt­ing and ghostly. The wood­wind parts took on the con­sis­tency of waves. If the roof had lifted to re­veal the Aurora Bo­re­alis in full glory, I would not have blinked.

I don’t have the vo­cab­u­lary to ex­plain ei­ther the in­tri­ca­cies of the piece nor the rea­sons why I found Si­mon Cullen (Synth East­wood) and his col­lab­o­ra­tors Neil O’Con­nor, Glenn Keat­ing and Liam Gaffney’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the piece so thrilling. It was a night when all the el­e­ments con­spired to mes­merise. On this holy ground once more, an un­for­get­table fire.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.