'Critical MASS' to showcase innovative music, science

live performanceMASS Ensemble promises to transform Waterman Theatre into a soaring, living musical instrument during its performance of “Critical MASS” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.

For more than a decade, the MASS (Music Architecture Sonic Sculpture) Ensemble has developed performance-art pieces that employ skilled musicians, cutting-edge technology, visual spectacle, innovative dance and aerial performance.

The group describes “Critical MASS” as “high-concept, high-impact entertainment that fuses the concepts of science with MASS Ensemble’s power to create emotion through performances that stir the soul.” Each scene presents new instruments and ties the presentation into a specific scientific principle.

“The MASS Ensemble has found the right balance of experimentation, creating melodic pieces that continually delight and surprise,” the Chicago Tribune observed. “The result is a swirling visual track . . . and music that sounds Baroque sometimes, anthemic at others.”

The Anchorage Daily News describes the group’s sound as “simultaneously experimental and classical, a new-age, pop, avant-garde wavelength in the neighborhood of Laurie Anderson.”

“Critical MASS” strives to bring the action out to the listeners, literally, with strings spanning into the audience to create gigantic instruments that produce deep, resonating sounds resembling a full string section, according to the group’s Web site.

Massive stringed instruments such as the 80-foot Earth Harp are complemented by violin, cello, bass, flute, sculptural drums and other invented instruments to produce music that spans modern, pop and classical genres.

The Sept. 16 concert is part of a campus residency by MASS Ensemble that also will include hands-on workshops, an art exhibition, lectures and demonstrations of their craft.

The residency is supported by the New York State Music Fund, created when the New York State Attorney General’s Office resolved pay-for-play investigations against major record companies and administered by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Entergy Nuclear Northeast also supports MASS Ensemble’s educational work at SUNY Oswego.

Tickets for “Critical MASS” cost $25 ($20 for seniors and students and $7 for SUNY Oswego students).

For information or reservations, contact Tyler box office at 312-2141 or tickets@oswego.edu.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Drum tech—Massive stringed instruments, unusual percussion and scientific principles will come together when MASS Ensemble presents “Critical MASS” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, in SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre. The performance promises to turn the theatre into a giant, organic musical instrument during part of the show.

(Posted: Aug 28, 2006)