Concert Review: The Sirius Quartet (9/7/2013)

In the spirit of 100% blogger honesty, I’ll admit up front that I only went to this show because I was kind of desperate to get away from my new upstairs neighbors. They had made an insane racket for seven solid hours the previous evening (I finally fell asleep with sleeping pills and earplugs at 3:30AM). I couldn’t stand the idea of a second evening near them, so I pored over the local concert listings to see what looked good. The Sirius Quartet at Lilypad won the “find a show to go to tonight in ten minutes or less” competition. A string quartet seemed like just the sort of thing I needed – no throbbing subwoofers like the ones my neighbors have đŸ˜‰

I knew I’d made the right choice when I looked at the flyer they were handing out at the door and it mentioned collaborators like Uri Caine, Billy Martin, Matthew Shipp, and composers like John Cage and John Zorn. I ended up really enjoying their set, and I’m glad I made the last-minute, semi-random decision to go. Serendipity!

The quartet consists of Fung Chern Hwei and Gregor Huebner on violins, Jeremy Harman on cello, and Ron Lawrence on viola. On this particular night, they played all original pieces composed by members of the group. They played a variety of styles, mostly quite modern (right up my alley!) and I was impressed by most of the pieces. Some of them had a more exciting pop/rock/metal tinge to them, and some of them were much more typical of what you’d expect from a modern string quartet (i.e., contemporary classical). The more classical-sounding pieces fit my mood better that night, but they were all good.

This is one of the pieces they played, and I’m stealing a video from Youtube because the quality is so much better than what I got out of my camera:

I’ll definitely put these guys on my list of bands/ensembles I’ll see when they’re in town – they mentioned that they hoped to be back in the spring. See you then!

Concert Review: Kaze (Satoko Fujii, Peter Orins, Christian Pruvost, Natsuki Tamura) (9/2/2013)

On Labor Day, I went to a small local venue, the Lilypad, to see what was billed as a Satoko Fujii concert. I’d seen her once before, playing with Carla Kihlstedt at the Stone about six years back, and I found that set very interesting, so I was happy to see what she was up to these days. I had assumed it was a solo show since only her name was listed on the website, but it turned out to be a band called Kaze, a quartet with Fujii on piano, Christian Pruvost and Natsuki Tamura on trumpets, and Peter Orins on drums.

I ended up getting quite confused; I live a precise six-minute walk from the venue, so I usually leave the house timed to arrive at the concert just before show time. Lilypad concerts often start quite late – the last time I went it was about 75 minutes late, for example – so getting there early is usually pointless. But this time, I guess they had begun slightly early – maybe someone’s watch was a little fast, or maybe I walked there at half-speed without noticing. But starting early is so unheard of that when I got there and a band was playing, I figured it must be a previous band playing over their allotted time (which happens all too often at Lilypad) … and I could hear trumpets, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t the solo piano concert I was looking for. After milling around outside for a few minutes I decided to and ask the person selling tickets what was going on, but when I got inside I realized that Satoko Fujii was indeed at the piano, and had brought three more musicians with her. So… long story short, I missed the beginning of the concert. D’oh! Between being accidentally late, finding an unexpected quartet, and having just come down off a five-hour experimental music binge (and how do YOU celebrate Labor Day?), I was feeling a little out of sorts.

Luckily, Kaze’s music is pretty ideal for feeling out of sorts! They play with a lot of creativity, humor, and (more…)