13 April 2015

Reflecting infinity

Minimalism seems right to explore infinity. Infinity is a modern commonplace but a difficult concept and I can't imagine that it lends itself to the passionate encounter of a Beethoven. Nick Tsiavos presented a 45-minute solo bass piece at the National Portrait Gallery which was written in response to a 6 year old son asking "What is infinity?". They joke that you start a bass solo to get married partners talking, but this was intriguing and involving: not at all something to ignore and chat over. Nick had laid four manuscript sheets on the floor in front of him as a guide. It seemed essentially a sketch with space for improvisation, but the movements of minimalism were obviously there. Lots of harmonics and repeating bowings and occasional change; ringing bow tones with interspersed passages of jazz pizz on open strings or melodic snippets; chromatic chordal changes and patterns of harmonics moved a fourth. There were a series of sections or movements, each holding its own conception or groove or distant tone and bowing pattern. The 45 minutes were easily reached by Nick and audience and even sat easily despite some noise in the open and reverberant NPG foyer. Nick is also a composer and this was his work; he was in Canberra from Melbourne to record soundtrack for a local film on refugees. So politics for good and good music. I'm inspired.

Nick Tsiavos (double bass, composer) performed "100 months, third of east" for solo double bass in the foyer of the National Portrait Gallery.

This is CJBlog post no. 1400

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