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Gerald Carpenter: Creativity in Bloom with UCSB’s ‘Primavera’

Performances will run through April 15 at several venues across campus

The annual outbreak of creativity celebrating the new visions of performing and visual artists working at UCSB — known as “Primavera” because of its proximity to the opening of spring — started Monday and runs through Sunday, April 15, with events bursting out at several venues across campus.

Most any campus department or subdivision that has anything to do with creativity has had a hand in sponsoring Primavera. This includes the College of Creative Studies, the College of Letters & Science, the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Corwin Chair in Music Composition, C.R.E.A.T.E. (Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology), the Media Arts and Technology Program, the Department of Music, the Performance Studies Research Focus Group of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, and the UCSB Department of Theater and Dance.

In Michael Apted’s 1985 film, Bring on the Night, the great American saxophonist and composer Branford Marsalis discusses the less-than-enthusiastic reception of some of the numbers he and Sting perform on their tour: “Well, I’m a jazz musician—I know what it is to be shat upon. I know what it means to stand up in front of people and play something that they just don’t want to hear.” How much truer that is when applied to anybody dedicated to performing “new” and “contemporary” music! There is something ineffably touching about the idealism and devotion of these young UCSB musicians. We owe them more than we can repay.

Among the highlights of this year’s festival:

» The College of Creative Studies TV Musical, It’s Only Human … (If It Dies), “a new work grounded in the new realities of an increasingly digital world,” with scenario, book and music written by the students in the CCS TV Musical project.

Gerry Hansen directs the stage action, Scott Cazan directs the technology and Jeremy Haladyna is executive producer. There will be three live festival performances — at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, April 4-6, in the College of Creative Studies’ Old Little Theatre. Admission is $10 for the general public and $5 for students, with tickets available at the door.

Here is how the producers describe the show: “The stage is set in a strangely familiar future. Sam, the obsessed fan (Amanda Terman) is determined to find out who snuffed out her idol, night club singer Desirée (Patricia Reyes). A ditzy detective (Grace Burdick), a manipulative club owner (Jason Bornstein), her own, too comfortable domestic robot (Matt Javidi) — no one (or thing) can deroute her from this single-minded task. To be sure, there’s an evil power behind the scenes, pulling the strings — and if you bring a smartphone to the show, better prepare to feel a digital tug or two yourself!”

The “if it dies” of the title presumably comes from the same enigmatic passage in the Gospel of John (12:24-25) that André Gide used for his memoirs: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

» Fight or Flight,/I>: “Yuan-Yi Fan’s Fight or Flight explores the artistic representation of heart rate signals visually and sonically. The abstract behaviors of boids (swarm) reflect the state of calmness and chaos in real time.” Presented at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, April 9-12, in Elings Hall, MAT Hallway, CNSI (second floor). Free admission.

» Re-Membering: Performing Memories/Histories by Ruth Hellier-Tinoco (UCSB Music, Theater/Dance) and UCSB students.

“Extracts of interdisciplinary performances (work-in-progress), engaging music, theater, film, movement, performance art, and multimedia created and performed by undergraduate students of music and theater, facilitated by Ruth Hellier-Tinoco, through her course “Performance/Memory/History.” Ranging from five to 15 minutes in duration, each piece was created over a period of six weeks, particularly working with ideas of fragmentation, juxtaposition, mnemonics, ritual, witness and iconicity, and engaging with a single person or a unique event as the core of the creative processes. Includes performances by Paulo Gutierrez, Dillon Kent-Yuhasz, Jo Lee and David Liu, Devin Lopez, Kevin Lewis, Austin Miller, Elana Share, Noelle Shofner and Inger Lise Sortland.

Creator Elana Share will perform her The Silencing of the Intellectual on April 10.
Creator Elana Share will perform her “The Silencing of the Intellectual” on April 10.

Presented at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, in TD 1703 of the Theater and Dance Building. Free admission.

» The Ensemble for Contemporary Music Making Stars. UCSB’s irreplaceable ECM, under the direction of Haladyna, goes supernova with a concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall in the Music Building. Admission is $15 for the general public and $7 for students, with tickets sold at the door.

Australian Peter Sculthorpe’s evocative How the Stars Were Made, for four percussionists, anchors this ECM program, which trumpets local composing and performing talent. Sculthorpe’s work, based on aboriginal legend, is given by the ECM percussion contingent at full strength: Anthony Paul Garcia, Dylan Morrow-Jones, Marjan Riazi and Hilary Adams. There will also be performed graduate composer David Gordon’s Collage for flute (Abigail Sten), bass clarinet (Laurence Young) and piano (Brigitte Hough), plus Bizarreries d’Amour by Hilary Adams, and Sonata in Search of a Melody by Christine Ramona Rogers. Then pianist Brigitte Hough closes with a set by local composer Larry Delinger.

» C.R.E.A.T.E. Pi and Beyond. This concert features the Boston-based guest composer Richard Boulanger, a prime exponent of interactive computer music, and the premieres of Couplings by San Francisco composer Thom Blum, who will project the piece live in concert, Corwin Chair of Composition Clarence Barlow’s astounding Approximating Pi in a new version with saxophone, and Jeremy Haladyna’s The Princess of the 9 Cave in a special quadraphonic version. (8 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Admission: $15 general, $7 students.)

» Songbird’s Hour: “Clarence Barlow’s Songbird’s Hour is an unfolding of a process that moves from initial hectic twittering to final dissipation over the course of an hour. Sometimes silences of several minutes intersperse themselves as a part of the process. (Performed 5:30-6:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, April 12-14, in the Music Courtyard. Free Admission.)

» UCSB Spring Dance Concert UNBOUND confessions. This event, which I will discuss in a later posting, takes place at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 13-14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 15, in the Hatlen Theater. (Admission: $13 for Students, Seniors, UCSB Faculty & Staff; $17 general). For more information go to www.theaterdance.ucsb.edu

» New Century Voices New Songs for a New Season. “New Century Voices, a vocal ensemble dedicated to performing the music of UCSB students, faculty and alumni, presents a program featuring music by CCS alumnus Justin Weaver, Professor Joel Feigin, graduate student Katherine Saxon, and undergraduates Kyle Leone and Jack Fischer.” (4 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the foyer and outdoor staircase of the Student Affairs and Administrative Services Building. Free Admission)

» Loxodroming I “The UCSB Composers Concert for the Primavera Festival will feature new works for mixed media by Luke Thomas Taylor and David Gordon. The New Century Voices will perform music by Katherine Saxon and Jack Fischer. The Now Hear Ensemble will premiere commissioned works for the ensemble by David Gordon and Luke Taylor. Daniel Navas will perform his work for oboe and piano with Cameron Hannah-Bick.” (7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Free Admission.)

For more information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.893.7001. Click here for a complete listing and explanation of “Primavera” events, as well as campus maps.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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