Connected \\ November 27, 2018
Performing inside the Soul House
One of the most beautiful and moving aspects of performing contemporary music is the inherent empathy imbued in a new work. I’m drawn to a quote by Leonard Bernstein:
Any great work of art... revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world — the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air.
With a new piece of music, that world is an interpretation of the same universe we all collectively inhabit, seen through the interpretation of the composer. When we all occupy this same imaginative space, we are immersing ourselves in a shared human experience through the eyes and ears of another.
Hub New Music. Photo by Nile Scott Shots.
This Saturday, December 1, Hub New Music invites you to travel into a new universe with PEM and Urbanity Dance. The point of departure for this collaborative program is Robert Honstein’s Soul House. Robert, who has been a close friend for a number of years, wrote the piece as an extended love letter to his childhood home. Each of the work’s nine movements is evocative of a different section of the house, from the Bay Window to the Backyard to the piece’s concluding movement, Secret Place. It’s not often that we have the privilege to perform a work so deeply personal to the composer. This piece becomes doubly special in that the world it creates and consequently invites the listener into is quite tangible - a yellow house on Newlin Road in Princeton, NJ.
Hub New Music performing with Matthew Aucoin and the Asia/America New Music Institute at PEM in 2017. © 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Ken Sawyer
As we prepare for a particularly special performance of Soul House at PEM, in which memories are translated into movement by the brilliance of Urbanity Dance, I’m especially looking forward to recreating the yellow house on Newlin Road for each audience member. In keeping with Bernstein’s words, we aim to “revive” our collective experiences in the Soul House and simultaneously “readapt” PEM’s atrium to become the house in which we had such a life-altering evening. Contemporary music offers a distinct empathetic experience and few works are more resoundly true to that experience than Soul House.