Mon Oct 5 2009
Photograph: Janette Beckman
BAM Harvey Theater; Wed 14--Oct 17
In virtually no time at all, it has become evident that the term percussion quartet fits So Percussion about as well as string quartet serves to describe the Kronos Quartet—which is to say practically not at all. True, the So players—Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting—initially earned their reputation with polished, vibrant performances of canonical works by John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, and Steve Reich, and enriched the repertoire with new pieces by David Lang, Paul Lansky and Dan Trueman, among others.
But, fairly early on, So Percussion showed that it was more than just an interpretive troupe. Amid the Noise, the group’s 2006 CD, established Treuting as a significant composer, while adding electronic sounds and impressionistic video by Treuting’s sister, Jenise Treuting, to the mix. Projects with subversive electronic duo Matmos found the quartet straying still further from its contemporary-classical roots.
Anyone who saw So Percussion’s workshop performance during the Undiscovered Islands series at Galapagos this past spring will have some notion of what to expect from Imaginary City, a new Italo Calvino--inspired collaboration with Jenise Treuting and director Rinde Eckert that opens at BAM this week. As video footage of cars, trains, pedestrians and urban landscapes passes in silence onscreen, the So members—like a Blue Man Group without the greasepaint and slapstick, or an Aniima without the pixie dust—perform original music that infuses those images with life.—Steve Smith