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Sounds

Commissioned by WNYC and performed worldwide, Sounds is a 30′ multimedia song cycle scored for soprano, narrator, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion.

Film by Carmen Kordas and poetry by Roger Bonair-Agard.

Sounds is inspired by Kandinsky’s manuscript of woodcuts and prose by the same name from 1912; it is a meditation on the meaning and implications of blue, red, black, and white in our society. Through the personification of each color, new perspectives on race, love, and the difficulties of connection in this era of extreme communication are uncovered. Sounds is a VisionIntoArt production, with performances at Etnafest in Sicily, and Concerti Aperitivi, Milan, Italy, the Whitney Live and Chelsea Art Museum in NY, and Franklin and Marshall College in PA.

“Prestini’s music shared some common ground with Muhly’s: a penchant for long, limpid tones and shimmering percussion; a straightforward melodicism sometimes augmented with electronic resonance (one early section might have been performed in a cistern); a happy adaptation of minimalism’s more sensual effects, served in smaller doses. But to discuss a VisionIntoArt presentation in terms of its musical content alone is to miss the point; in fact, the relative directness of the compositional idioms employed stood in stark contrast to the near cacophony that resulted from the interaction of music with image, motion and language. Nor were these elements assembled in any conventionally narrative sense; this was more a theater of spectacle and sensation. Opening with prerecorded bird song and watery swooshes, Prestini’s piece afforded ‘inspired’ both ritualistic poses wrapped in lengths of scarlet cloth, and the handsomely musical, near toasting cadences of poet Roger Bonair-Agard. Singer Haleh Abghari contributed to the musical ensemble while slapping paint-daubed fingers against the stretch of paper she knelt upon. The intoxicating profusion of seemingly unrelated impressions, as well as Prestini’s wedding of disparate styles, reminded me of nothing so much as the similarly disorienting scores assembled by Simon Fisher Turner for Derek Jarman’s later films, such as The Garden and Blue. Late in the piece, percussionist Pablo Rieppi played a vibraphone solo to electronic accompaniment, while the rest of the performers cleared the rose-petal strewn floor and exited.” – Steve Smith