Cyberpairings • Friday, Feb 9


7:30 pm. Sherwood, Columbia College Chicago • 1312 S Michigan Ave in Chicago
Free admission, no registration necessary • donation suggested
Street parking on S Michigan Ave

Join us in the South Loop this Friday, February 9, 7:30 pm to hear the music of Kotoka SuzukiKyong Mee Choi, Brent Lee, Shelby Lock and Kari Watson and the video work of Sigi Torinus and Antonia Contro as Chicago Composers’ Consortium kicks off its 2024 Season with Cyberpairings, a concert of works that pair live performance with electronic music — sound with visual art.


Vista (2022) for piano, video and ice by Kotoka Suzuki — video by Antonia Contro — animation by Joseph Merideth — pianist Megumi Masaki
Always, Sideways (2023) for piano, live electronics and visuals by composer Brent Lee and visual artist Sigi Torinus — pianist Megumi Masaki
Flowering Dandelion (2020) for violin and electronics by Kyong Mee Choi — violinist, Sarah Plum
utterance (2024) for modular synthesizer, video and synthesized voice by Kari Watson
PANDog (2022) audio/video by Shelby Lock
Blue Rising (2019) for piano and transducers by Kotoka Suzuki — pianist Megumi Masaki

Megumi Masaki’s HEARING ICE project aims to raise awareness of climate change on ice and amplify voices of impacted communities through the research, development and creation of new piano+multimedia narrative works. This process has many layers, uncovering personal stories, scientific facts and the synergy that translates into sonic and visual results.

While each work brings together different artists, scientists, and communities to explore distinctive perspectives of climate crisis, dynamic interactions throughout centres a common environment where all voices have equal weight. We are devising new ways to unify lighting, movement, and staging with sound and images to create a digital scenography for and between each narrative, connecting works cohesively to engage a wide audience in impactful experiences that motivate dialogue and action.

HEARING ICE connects us with nature and provides hope in a time of crisis.

Vista (2022) for piano, video and ice by Kotoka Suzuki
Video: Antonia Contro
Animator: Joseph Merideth

Vista (2022) for piano, video and ice by Kotoka Suzuki is a work created in collaboration with the visual artist Antonia Contro that addresses the consequences of climate change in the Arctic. Scientists, along with conservation organizations, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada, have been closely monitoring the changing underwater soundscape of the Arctic using hydrophones. These audio recordings provide information on how increased open water in the Arctic, together with rising noise levels from a growing human presence, are significantly affecting underwater soundscapes and natural habitats. Mammals listen to each other and use sound to sense their habitat and detect both predators and prey. Finding more open water in the Arctic sea, mammals are increasingly moving from the subarctic to the Arctic and are doing so earlier in the season. Increased open water also increases noise levels and allows for increased human activity in the Arctic region. With permission from the Western Arctic Program conservation team at the WCS Canada (Conservation Scientist/Arctic Acoustic Program Lead, William D. Halliday), the work directly incorporates sounds from their audio archive.  The work was commissioned by the pianist, Megumi Masaki as part of her “Hearing Ice” project.

Always, Sideways (2023) by Brent Lee and Sigi Torinus is a short piece for piano with live interactive audio processing and video mixing. The pacing of the piece and character of the audiovisual gestures reflect the slow and relentless nature of changes to our environment, particularly the melting of the polar ice caps. The title is reminiscent of the movement of glaciers, with the video exploring themes of transformation, fluidity, fragility, and the transformative qualities of water and ice. Ephemeral shapes constantly change and evolve, matched by periodic shifts in timbre and harmony in the piano music. Always, Sideways was commissioned by Megumi Masaki for her HEARING ICE project.

Brent Lee is a composer, media artist, and musician whose work explores the relationships between sound, image, and technology, especially through multimedia performance. He has created more than one hundred works, ranging from orchestral music to interactive media pieces to film soundtracks. His most recent project is entitled Homstal, a set of multimedia pieces featuring saxophone improvisation in an interactive audiovisual environment. He is a co-founder of the Noiseborder Ensemble and the Electric Improv Lab, and teaches in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor.

Sigi Torinus creates new media works that include site-specific installation and improvisatory interactive live-video performance. Her work explores our perceptions of the migratory journey, through time and space, in physical, ephemeral, and digital worlds. She is a co-founder of the Noiseborder Ensemble and teaches in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor, Canada.



More about some of the music

Kyong Mee Choi’s piece Flowering Dandelion paraphrases an intriguing part of J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata in B minor, Adagio, and showcases the evolution of musical expression incorporating timbral and textural evolution. The gestures of musical ideas portray the images of flowering dandelions. The piece is commissioned by Sarah Plum.

Kari Watson’s utterance, for modular synthesizers, video, and live electronics, is a multimedia performance piece that plays with the uncanny. Juxtaposing organic and synthetic sounds it utilizes the voice and the analog modular synthesizer alongside their uncanny doubles – a synthetic digitally modeled voice and a digitally modeled analog synthesizer. Playing between authenticity and artifice, these sounds collide and mesh, pushing and pulling with and against footage that further plays with this juxtaposition.

About her piece PANDog, Shelby Lock writes: “For several months, I had nightmares in which aggressive dogs came after me, and ‘PANdog’ is a musical representation of these dreams. The dogs would appear when I least expected, as I was minding my own business. Thus, ‘PANDog’ solely consists of eleven sounds I recorded from my daily life, including the Chicago ‘L’ train, a refrigerator, an air vent, window blinds, microwave beeps, elevator chimes, and more, along with several samples of dog howls, barks, and groans. The title has several different meanings but is mainly a reference to the dog noises invading everything by being placed among many other types of sounds (-pan comes from the Greek word for ‘all’).”

Inspired by existing iconic piano works depicting the motion of water and oceans, Kotoka Suzuki’s Blue Rising work quotes composers of the past such as Debussy, Ravel, and Liszt. Through a series of small surface transducers placed directly on the strings of the piano, sounds are projected directly from inside the instrument. In doing so, the instrument becomes a symbolic reference to the past not only through the musical gestures performed by the pianist but also through the emerging sounds, quoted from the past that flood out of the instrument. Furthermore, specific frequencies are projected from the transducers to excited the harmonic partials of particular strings. This work was dedicated to Cheryl Duvall and commissioned by the pianist.

Restaurants within two blocks of the concert

Nepal House - 1301 S Michigan – Nepalese and Indian Cuisine / more vegan choices – closes 9:15 pm
AO Hawaiian Hideout - 1315 S Wabash – pan asian / bar – closes 9:30 pm
Burger Bar - 1150 S Michigan – Burgers etc / with bar – closes 11:00 pm
Sumi - 1303 S Michigan – Japanese Restaurant – excellent ramen – closes 10:00 pm
Flo & Santos - 1310 S Wabash – Italian and Polish / good pizza / with bar – kitchen til 11:00 pm
Giordano’s - 1340 S Michigan – deep dish pizza with a wait / with bar – closes 8:00 pm
MingHin - 1234 S Michigan – Chinese Food – closes 9:00 pm
Armando’s Victory Tap - 1416 S Michigan – pizza, dinner restaurant / bar – closes 10:15 pm
also: Jimmy John’s, Subway, Aurelio’s Pizza, 5 Guys, Eleven City Diner, The Weathermark, Harold’s Chicken #88

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