Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Samurai" at the Denver Art Museum, Orchestral performance

The night of April 29th, 2016 was a musical night to be at the Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado. The museum showcased multiple orchestral works in relation to Japanese culture and history. The theme of the orchestral show "Samurai" included many elements of avant garde and performance art and included works by John Williams, Krzesimer Debski, Gustav Holst, and Denver's own Gregory T.S. Walker. Gregory Walker is a professor at University of Colorado Denver, and composed as well as performed a piece for the night entitled "Kawanakajima for Video Guitar and Orchestra." Walker's piece took in modernist aspects by using the Japanese video guitar instrument, coupled with performance art of a mobile orchestra. It was specifically avant garde, as orchestras typically stay seated; while this performance's orchestra mimicked pop musicians of today by enacting a visual performance. The instrument that Walker played was sort of a futuristic guitar, dare I say prepared guitar? Without question, there was a strong parallel with the oddity of Walker's piece and the psychedelic sounds of the 1960's. The piece was futuristic and also had comical political commentary. As Walker started his piece, he vowed to make the Kawanakajima great again. Obviously this is political commentary, and shows the multidisciplinary aspect of performance art. As the night went on, the exhibits of the art museum were open to all visitors. Again, this was an example of "museum culture" as the orchestral history of western music was accompanied by relics of the past. Music is the only art form that is not fixed in time. As tangible pieces of art can be kept for centuries, music can only be carried through time via performance and new performers. The night of April 29th, 2016 was one to be remembered at the Denver Art Museum, especially for its mix of music and relics of history. It is an honor to be around the musicians keeping orchestral composition alive, and one would recommend checking out the "Samurai" exhibit of the museum as soon as you get the chance.