The Glass Orchestra
with Lisa LaCross and Rafael A. Velez
The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg • May 6, 1999
This show was billed as the “Final Emit Series Performance at the Dali Museum” — not that pleasing of an idea for the many people in the Bay Area who are not, as David Manson puts it, “fervent supporters of mediocrity!” Contrary to the beliefs of , the Emit series is a definite benefit to the Dali Museum. The union of these two mediums (art and music) is a very wonderful and exciting thing to experience under one roof; it gives you the feeling that you are in some sort of cultural center of the universe. Canceling the Emit Series at Dali is like George Lucas deciding not to hire John Williams to compose a soundtrack for The Phantom Menace . This “final” concert was proudly-attended; many people had to stand in the back or sit on the floor to the sides.
Now that I’m done ranting…
The Glass Orchestra consists of Eric Cadesky, Michael Baker, Paul Hodge, and Richard Sacks, four Canadians who have been getting together and ritualistically rubbing on wet kitchenware for 22 years. To quote David Manson once again, “These guys are SERIOUS.”
Imagine four tables set up, completely decked-out with glass bowls, dishes, glasses, tubes, chimes, and other makeshift/experimental instruments — hung on mic stands by fishing-line or glued to Plexiglas platforms. I heard a multitude of mysterious sounds that night, but I couldn’t tell you where they originated from; and I was in the front row.
One composition consisted of the four glass-ensemble players, each armed with four bowls (each bowl containing water). Upon exchanging visual cues, the players would rub their fingers around the rims of the bowls, creating an eerie howling (that’s 8 glass bowls vibrating). Each player would then stop, pick up two of the bowls, dump a bit of the water into the other two bowls, turn two pages of manuscript, and wait for the next cue and start again. This would continue until all of the water had been drained into the non-played bowls. The process would then reverse. This went on for quite some time. At one point, I felt that I had intruded upon some sort of Vulcan Water/Soul Purification Ritual.
The light-hearted highlight of the evening was an over-the-edge improvisation, during which the ensemble were joined by Lisa LaCross (an extremely beautiful flutist) and Rafael A. Velez (a wonderful jazz-bassist). During this wild avant-garde extravaganza, Ms. LaCross fluttered around the room like some sort of pixie, emitting cute bursts of nonsensical beeps and chirps at the audience and performers, most definitely stealing the show.
The second most interesting music moment of the show: At the end of one of the compositions, the bowls were left to harmonically resonate, and as they slowly faded to silence, someone accidentally dropped and broke a bottle in the back of the room. The audience exploded in cheers and laughter; and not only applauded the musicians, but the unsuspecting improviser as well.