Notes on Fiction: Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm
Friday March 7, 2014
This concert featured an original re-telling of the witty Brothers Grimm tale, The Fisherman and His Wife. The three members of Oracle Hysterical turn this classic fairy tale into a hysterical show with a contemporary, engaging score they arranged, performed by the Washington Square Winds woodwind quintet. The program also included 12 Windows, based on the Brothers Grimm’s tale, "The Sea-Hare,” as well as Opus Number Zoo, a classic woodwind quintet that tells a grim story itself. Following the performance was a wine reception.
Washington Square Winds, a New York-based woodwind quintet, was formed in 2009 by five classically trained musicians passionate about chamber music. Its mission is to seek out, perform, and commission new works, expanding the wind quintet repertoire. The ensemble strives to collaborate with composers of the present generation and cultivate appreciation for contemporary classical music in our communities.
In its original series, "THEY’RE ALIVE!," dedicated to showcasing new works written exclusively by living composers, Washington Square Winds provides opportunities for composers to hear their own music performed live and exposes audiences to music composed during their lifetime. Premieres have included Enrico Arcaro’s Monograph, which was composed specifically for the ensemble, as well as Charley Gerard’s Hangin’ Out, Max Orland’s Dogfight, and Dean Rosenthal’s I Think So, Too, which he arranged for the ensemble.
In addition to focusing on compositions and composers from their generation, Washington Square Winds takes an active role in working with the next generation of musicians. In the 2011/2012 academic year, the ensemble volunteered as the Woodwind Quintet in Residence at the Third Street Music School Settlement, where they attended weekly Orchestra rehearsals, dress rehearsals, and performances, acting as mentors and role models for the students. The quintet also recently co-created an interactive children's show based on Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, which includes a puppeteer, narrator, and costumes for the musicians.
After a competitive audition process, Washington Square Winds was chosen to become part of “Music Under New York (MUNY),” a select group of ensembles given the privilege to perform in the city’s subway systems. They regularly play in stations such as Grand Central, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Columbus Circle, and Penn Station, hoping to reach as many people as possible with their love of chamber music. The quintet has performed at various venues in New York City, such as Caffé Vivaldi, Cornelia Street Café, Lenox Hill Settlement House, Goodbye Blue Monday, LIC Bar, and Googie’s Lounge above The Living Room, as well as at the Patchogue Theater, for the Port Jefferson Arts Council, and as part of the Great Neck Park’s “Sundays @ 3 series.” But their favorite place to perform is in their namesake, Washington Square Park.
Members include: Caryn Freitag (Flute); Phil Rashkin (Oboe); Elyssa Plotkin (Clarinet) Annamaria Kis-Ven (Bassoon); Phil Koonce (Horn)
For more info, visit www.washingtonsquarewinds.org
Oracle Hysterical is the creative vortex of three performer-composers whose collaborative and competitive obsessions span opera, hip hop, literature, chamber music, and the uncharted spaces between them. Brad Balliett (bassoon), Doug Balliett (bass, gamba) and Elliot Cole (voice, harmonium) are part band, part book-club: they ground their storytelling projects in a deep enthusiasm for literature, from Melville to Ovid, Brothers Grimm to Lucretius, Auden, Cassanova and the Bible.
They have been guest performers at the MATA festival, performing their hip-hop intervention into The Rake's Progress with the Metropolis Ensemble; they were featured in Columbia University's Remixing Opera conference in 2011; the same year they toured Germany with a set of songs on Grimm's folktales and were Spotlight Artists at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, where they premiered their rap opera Billy Budd; they have also recently been featured at the Berkshire Fringe Festival.
They have released several albums, including hip-hop operas The Rake's Progress and The Oracle Hysterical, the rap lecture De Rerum (on the history of the world to 2000BCE), and the song cycles Alcestis, Babinagar, and Doug's radical re-inventions of Schumann's Dichterleibe. All are available on their website: oraclehysterical.com