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CrossSound: across the boundaries

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2001

Edvard Munch and Crockett Johnson probably never have appeared in the same sentence, let alone the same concert.

Munch, a Norwegian artist most famous for his painting "The Scream," and Johnson, author and illustrator of the children's book "Harold and the Purple Crayon," served as inspirations for two contemporary composers. This weekend, CrossSound presents the world premiere of these two pieces of music, and five other compositions as well, at performances in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan.

The Juneau performance will be at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

CrossSound was founded in 1999 by Jocelyn Clark and Stefan Hakenberg to cross musical boundaries. For several years they've enlisted an international cadre of musicians and composers, including Alaska players, for annual concerts in Southeast communities. CrossSound concerts feature unusual combinations of instruments and styles.

"It's a blending of traditions," said Juneau musician Bob Banghart, one of the 11 musicians playing in a variety of combinations in the current tour. "That's the thing that's so cool. It's not just genres but abilities and styles."

Banghart is best-known as a fiddler, most often seen playing Cajun, swing, rock and old-time music. This is the third time he's worked on a CrossSound project - playing mandolin.

"It's a real stretch," he said. "You meet some different players and get hammered around with a different tradition."

Juneau Symphony trumpet player Rick Trostel is part of the ensemble performing "Harold and the Purple Crayon." In the story, Harold has to go to bed but he can't sleep, so he gets out his purple crayon and draws himself an adventure.

"The music evokes the storyline of the book," Trostel said. "When the dragon comes out, the trumpet is doing upper octave tremolos. When Harold is drawing the long line, we have long notes. The rhythm is very intricate and complicated."

Written by Boston composer Carl Schimmel, the music is scored for a quintet - two trumpets, a French horn, a trombone and bass clarinet. The story will accompany the music, and a slide projector will screen pages from the book during the performance.

Another Boston composer, Thomas Oboe Lee, wrote the piece inspired by the paintings of Munch. Images of Munch's paintings also will be projected during the performance.

New music by Fairbanks composer John Luther Adams will be premiered this weekend, a piece called "The Farthest Place." Clark said the piece evokes the feeling of the tundra and the remoteness of the North.

Adams has written for orchestra, chamber ensembles, radio, film, television and theater. Many of his works, including this one, are inspired by Northern themes.

"The Farthest Place" will be performed by vibraphone player Wilbert Grootenboer of Rotterdam, Netherlands; alto flute player Skyler Lashley of Juneau, who is the new music teacher at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School; and Clark playing a Korean string instrument, the kayagum.

Grootenboer is part of Duo Contemporain, a Dutch ensemble that includes bass clarinetist Henri Bok. The duo will perform two pieces by contemporary European composers Anthony Gilbert and Burkhardt Soll. Grootenboer will join Banghart on a duet by composer Ken Ueno for four amplified soda pop cans and amplified acoustic mandolin.

"It's called 'Vertical Limit,' " Banghart said. "Its kind of a crazy assemblage of mandolin notes over percussion. It's a very interesting piece."

Four new works will be premiered this weekend by CrossSound. Three of the composers - Adams, Schimmel and Ueno - will travel with the musicians. A piece by CrossSound cofounder Hakenberg also will be performed and he is traveling with the ensemble.

Other players include violinist Kathryn Hoffer, concertmaster for the Anchorage Symphony, Sitka trombonist Roger Schmid and from Ketchikan, violinist Stefan Hovik, trumpet player Dale Curtis and French horn player Tia Wilhelm.

"We've presented more challenging things before," said Clark. "I think this is a really nice program. I think it's accessible. No one will be bored."

Tickets for "Revillagigedo Staccato: New Works for Musicians from Southeast Alaska and Beyond," are $15, $10 for students and seniors, and are available at Hearthside Books, The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council office and at the door Sunday afternoon.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.



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