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Fest offers fun in sound, vision

Hearing the works of local and distinguished new music composers takes on another dimension this weekend during the third annual Sound & Vision Festival at the Magic Theatre.

Works by composers W. Jay Sydeman, Terry Riley, Mikail Graham, Jerry Grant and Mark Vance will be featured in film shorts. The festival is presented by the Nevada County Composers Cooperative; all of the festival’s composers, except Grant, are cooperative members.

“We’re reaching out to a different audience by combining art, film and music,” Vance said last week. “It makes us more accessible than we are by music alone.”



All composers’ works will be seen Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s program features Sydeman only in a DVD premiere of “A Journey Through The Chakras.”

“About 10 years ago, I came across a remarkable series of painted mandalas by Berkeley-based Gina Halpern based on the seven chakras. They particularly spoke to me as I had spent several years in a Tibetan Buddhist temple, and my personal practice involved working with visualizations in that tradition,” Sydeman said. “I knew immediately that I had to put music to these paintings.”




Although Sydeman’s “A Journey Through The Chakras” can be experienced as entertainment, he conceived it as a meditative practice, designed to stimulate and harmonize one’s energy system.

Riley will feature a 25-minute piece, “Music with Balls,” created in 1969 and shown once back then via KQED-TV Channel 6. The period psychedelic piece features Riley on soprano saxophone and giant metal balls in motion with installed speakers.

Graham and visual artist J. Michael James created “Virtual Sculpture” in the fall of 2001 and debuted the film at the Sound & Vision festival the next year. “Virtual Sculpture” was then seen predominantly in East Coast galleries. Graham brings back excerpts to this weekend’s festival.

Grant, also a bandleader and studio player who moved here nine months ago from Los Angeles, composed for approximately 500 TV show episodes, such as “Quantum Leap,” “The Secret World of Alex Mack” and “Magnum P.I.,” along with concert music and chorale music.

For his Sound & Vision Festival segment, Grant assembled an 18-minute montage of scenes from TV shows and feature films, which includes the opening and time travel sequence from “Quantum Leap,” the main title and training sequence from the feature “Hired To Kill,” the main title from Discovery Channel’s “World of Valor,” and the main title and fight sequence from the feature, “Ninja Academy.”

Vance’s introspective solo piano piece, “Cemetery,” debuts at the festival. “Cemetery’s” accompanying film includes images of the Red Dog and St. Canice cemeteries shot late at night under a full moon and photographs of local notables from the past century-and-a-half buried there, including aviator/inventor Lyman Gilmore, Gold Rush dentist Nelly Chapman, music teacher Marian Libby, former Nevada Union High School choral student and rock musician Jeff Blanchard, and beloved college student, involved community member and dancer Laura Wilcox.

“They are part of our history and continue to be,” Vance noted. “I wanted to conjure or portray that at first glimpse, the cemetery is an eerie environment; but once you’ve been there, you realize this is the fabric of our community. All these lives intertwine with ours.”

This work was commissioned by area architect and businessman Cliff Smith in the summer of 2003 for young Polish pianist Katarzyna Musial. “Cemetery” is the opening movement, to be followed by short movements named after each individual. All the movements will premiere June 13 at the fifth annual Festival of New Music in Grass Valley.

All composers, except for Riley, who is in Europe, will be on hand during the Sound & Vision festival to answer questions before, after and during intermission.

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KNOW & GO

WHAT: Third annual Sound & Vision Festival

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Kimberly Bass opens Sunday’s show with a chakra toning on crystal bowl.

WHERE: Magic Theatre, 107 Argall Way in Nevada City

ADMISSION: $12 general, $6 for students

INFORMATION: 478-0983 or http://www.nccomposerscooperative.org


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