FLY SWATTERS AND TV: MUSIC 'TO THE EXTREME'
The last concert of a Monadnock Music season is always a special event, but this year's finale, which took place last Sunday, surpassed all expectations. An over-capacity crowd at the Jaffrey Center Meeting House was witness not only to some lovely music, but also to some bizarre theatrics with a bit of added drama.
The concert opened with several Schubert Lieder, touchingly performed by Mary Lindsey, soprano, and Ursula Oppens, piano. Clarinetist Michael Sussman joined them at the end for the delicate "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen." This last extended song was deeply felt by all, and Mr. Sussman's interpretation of a transitional passage was breathtaking.
A total change of pace followed, "Chanson Dada" by name. As one might suspect from the title, it was an absurdist piece, complete with television sets, bullhorn and stepladder. To a shattering boom of the bass drum, a soprano with the unlikely name of Joanne Scattergood entered from the back of the stage in a straw hat, gaudy print dress, and basketball sneakers.
In the course of the piece, she turned on the TVs, swatted flies, came out into the audience, and descended the stepladder from the balcony, all the while singing, sometimes through the bullhorn. The orchestra accompanied her with sounds ranging from torch song to squawky atonal.
Any explanation of this tour de farce would be very risky, but some found it offensive enough to walk out. Suffice it to say it was amusing to the extreme. Composer James Sellars took a bow at the end.
As if this weren't enough, in the middle of "Chanson Dada" an ambulance with flashing red lights pulled up outside the meeting house. Many in the audience thought this was part of the act, but it turned out to be attending to a bona fide illness. Whether or not this was a reaction to the music was unclear.
Copyright 1980 by The Monadnock Ledger