OH, SNAP! IT'S OUR SEASON CLOSER!
Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Dave Chappelle walk into a classical music concert...
Well, they heckle their way into a piece at a classical music concert, anyway. The unexpected mashup of string quartet and comedy is the motivation behind Comic Cadences, our Chicago season closer at Constellation. As the point of departure for this project, Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s Hack is a compositional venture that is astonishing in scope...and nerve. For this commission, the Chicago composer meticulously transcribed the rhythm, pitch, and cadence of bits from comedians like Pryor, Carlin, Chappelle, Sarah Silverman, Lenny Bruce, Rodney Dangerfield, Tig Notaro and many others, using this complex sonic information as the basis to create this inventive, multi-movement work. (To hear an early proof-of-concept featuring comedian Richard Lewis, click here). It is a world premiere unlike anything we've ever attempted, and a peek behind the smoke-stained curtain of what beyond words makes a joke level a crowd.
The cheeky glissandi in the Scherzo movement of Josef Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 33 No. 2 “The Joke” shift past 18th century harmonic witticisms and into something just shy of buffoonery, surrounded as the section is by elegance and poise. Bridging the divide between Haydn and the final piece of the program, Sky Macklay’s Many Many Cadences adopts the comic device of repetition, but at a register and pace that sets the composer as Road Runner and the quartet as the misanthropic Wile E. Coyote. Phrases begin at the uppermost reaches of each instrument, with absurdly fast tonal cadences comprising the entirety of the musical material, careening down the page before leaping back into the stratosphere.
In the days leading up to the performance, ticket holders and the general public will be invited to explore Hack as insiders through interviews, videos, and audio available at spektralquartet.com. In addition to “The Joke,” Many Many Cadences, and Dave Reminick’s The Ancestral Mousetrap (commissioned by us), this daring new work is slated for recording on the Sono Luminus label, for release in early 2016.
Humor has played an essential role in our concert banter and social media presence since our inception, but for the final installment of its 2014/15 Chicago season, we bring comedy center stage.