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Electroacoustic Barn Dance

During+one+of+the+sets%2C+Christopher+Biggs+plays+the+keyboard+and+Sam+Wells+plays+the+trumpet.
During one of the sets, Christopher Biggs plays the keyboard and Sam Wells plays the trumpet.

During one of the sets, Christopher Biggs plays the keyboard and Sam Wells plays the trumpet.

Walter Merz

Walter Merz

During one of the sets, Christopher Biggs plays the keyboard and Sam Wells plays the trumpet.

Carley Stickney, Contributing Writer

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Mixtures of computerized sounds and traditional instruments from 94 composers took over campus in early February as the Seventh Annual Electroacoustic Barn Dance festival commenced.

According to the self-titled web page, the festival aims to create a balanced lineup of composers and artists from a diverse range of ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, and nationalities. To exemplify this theme, pianist Boril Ivanov, a native of Bulgaria, joined the faculty’s New Music Ensemble for the event.

The festival has previously been held at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was most recently brought to Jacksonville University by festival founder Mark Snyder as he joined the Jacksonville University music faculty before this academic year.

This event featured many music faculty members, such as trombonist Chris Creswell, saxophonist John Ricci, and percussionist Tony Steve. Assistant professor Shannon Lockwood was the featured cellist of the festival.

“Electroacoustic can mean anything really. Composers can write in any style of music and utilize electronics alongside acoustic instruments,” Lockwood said. “In that sense, the festival can speak to all kinds of musicians and it will also be different every year.”

The three-day festival counted with installations that used  different levels of lighting, electronic visual art, and often incorporated unconventional daily items. In one installation, Steve stepped on plastic sheeting with bare feet to create a sound that complimented the electronic music surrounding him on stage.

Aside from the faculty performances, 10 JU students were also given the opportunity to participate in the festival and submit their own pieces after having taken JU’s electronic music course.

“Performing and sharing new music is important for our students. The festival brought some very important people in new music to campus. It was a chance for our students to not only experience the music, but also to network,” Lockwood said.

The festival utilized campus spaces such as Terry Concert Hall, the Phillips Fine Arts Lobby, Gooding Auditorium, the Black Box Theatre, and also ventured off-campus to the Endangered Wise Men Studios. This studio is one of the only recording studios in Jacksonville and holds the largest live room in the city, which also gave students a first-hand look at the professional world of recording.

Apart from the festival being a professional opportunity for students, the event was also beneficial for professors because it provided an  unique experience.

“For me, much of the music was quite difficult to perform,” Lockwood said. “Performing new music is not something that I do as often as I’d like and it often utilizes difficult rhythms and extended techniques. I need and enjoy that challenge.”

Perhaps the most prominent aspect that sets the festival apart from others is that all installations were composed and created by modern artists. The art is very different from many of the concerts in the College of Fine Arts calendar, which often showcase the classical works of Handel or Debussy. It is solely a new-age movement.

“I always think of musical performance filling two different roles: preservation and development,” Lockwood said. “It’s like an art museum. The museum preserves art so that future generations can experience it, but it is also important for the museum to show and commission new work to develop voices from our own time.”

 

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