Hey all, I’m offering a short program entitled Bells and Gongs as part of the First Works Festival in early October. I and a few friends will be performing outdoors (weather permitting) just across the sidewalk from the the riverside doors of the RISD Auditorium. We’ll perform Thursday and Friday, October 2nd and 3rd, both nights 7:15-7:45pm. If it rains we’ll be in the foyer of the auditorium.Bob Asprinio, David Brown and Chris Monti will help me play the glass bells and gongs from my collection; Chris Turner and Rachel Maloney will bring their gongs to add to the fun. We’ll be offering half hour long sound sculptures, exploring the sonic possibilities of these exotic, evocative instruments.
As some of you know, I’m working on a new opera commissioned by First Works, entitled The Legend of Melusine. This Bells and Gongs project is the first in a series of works in progress that will culminate in the full production of the opera in the next couple of years.
In the story of Melusine, she appears most of the time as a normal woman. But, according to a curse laid on her, once a week on Saturdays, she transforms into half-woman, half-serpent. One of my leading ideas about the musical setting is that Melusine, when she is in her half-snake manifestation, will sing “metal and glass arias,” that is, songs where the primary accompaniment to the voice will be metal percussion — tubular bells and gongs — in combination with glass bells. My notion is that these exotic percussion instruments, and specifically the glass bells, are particularly suited to the telling of such a supernatural story and will serve as the signature sound of the opera.
Over the last several weeks, it has been my great pleasure to collaborate with Providence glass artist Jim Watkins (P and W Glass). We have worked together to create new glass bells with a goal of making them structurally sound and pitch specific. The results of our — mostly his — labor will be seen and heard at this event. And I hope to be able to preview a little piece that I call Melusine’s Theme using the glass bells to play the melody.
In any case, come on down and hear the sounds, see the sights. These performances will be dedicated to my mother, Peggy R. Jobe (1925-2008).
Bells and Gongs is partially funded by First Works and The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
Also, please come see and hear the great spectacle of Terry Riley’s In C. Composer and harmonica virtuoso, Chris Turner has organized a great crew of musicians to perform this minimalist masterwork at Waterplace Park on Sunday, October 5th, 2pm. Quite likely the Bosch Hurdy-Gurdy will make an appearance. Hope to see you there!