SPCO's Liquid Music new season expands reach and offerings

'Nufonia Must Fall'
DJ Kid Koala will present a live interpretation of his graphic novel "Nufonia Must Fall" as part of the 2015-16 Liquid Music series. The show includes music performed by string quartet and turntables, with live puppetry projected on screens above the musicians.
Image courtesy Liquid Music | Photo by AJ Korkidakis

The 2015-2016 season of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's Liquid Music series will continue the organization's emerging tradition of diverse, multifaceted performances.

Beginning in October, fans of the series will have the opportunity to absorb nine performances at Twin Cities venues and a "virtual residency" that fuses music from an innovative Berlin ensemble and the band Polica.

"Spoken word, dance, multimedia and visual design, puppetry and storytelling," will all be included, Liquid Music Curator Kate Nordstrum said. "So there's a greater expansion of the interdisciplinary element, although there are also straight up chamber works and projects too."

The series will feature performances by veteran performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson; Venezuelan-American singer, songwriter and painter Devendra Banhart; composers Steven Mackey and Daniel Wohl and others. They will take the stage in a variety of venues — from the new Ordway Concert Hall and the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul to the Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Nordstrum said a highlight of the upcoming season may well be the world premiere of Mackey's "Orpheus Unsung" in June 2016. It will be a theatrical "wordless opera" featuring dancers and a multimedia presentation built around Mackey's work for string quartet and electric guitar.

Composer Steve Mackey
Composer Steve Mackey will perform as the title character in "Orpheus Unsung" as part of the Liquid Music season. Mackey composed the work for string quartet and electric guitar, which will provide the voice of Orpheus.
Image courtesy Liquid Music | Photo by Kah Poon

Mackey will perform the title role, using the electric guitar to provide the voice of Orpheus.

"It's interesting for a series like Liquid Music to talk to a composer of that stature," Nordstrum said, "to really explore what hasn't he been able to realize."

Among the questions that come up, she said, are "What is a passion project? And how could something that he hasn't done yet. How could that fit into Liquid Music? How could we support it?"

Nordstrum also is excited about the performance in February by Wohl, whose new work "Holographic" is being co-commissioned by Liquid Music, MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The work, to be released as an album, will be performed at each venue with a different set of collaborators.

The performance at the Ordway Concert Hall will feature Mantra Percussion and the Holographic String Quartet, as well as visual elements provided by the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.

The season also will include a performance at the Walker Art Center of disc jockey Kid Koala's musical interpretation of his graphic novel "Nufonia Must Fall," described as a "tender robot meets office girl love story."

"He's written music for string quartet and he'll be on turntables," Nordstrum said. "And it's live music. It is puppetry. The puppetry is small and it is projected on a big screen."

The series also is relaunching its website which it will use for a "virtual residency" involving Berlin-based s t a r g a z e in a collaboration with Polica. They will create a performance piece for the 2016-17 series.

Mantra Percussion
Mantra Percussion will join composer Daniel Wohl in performing his new work "Holographic," which will also be released as an album. The piece is being co-commissioned by four arts organizations and will be performed by different artists at each venue, providing four unique interpretations of the music.
Image courtesy Liquid Music

After selling out the entire last season Nordstrum is happy with the way Liquid Music is attracting attention locally and nationally, but she is also ambitious for the future. "I always think there is always room to grow," she said. "There is plenty of work left to do."

Liquid Music Season

Oct. 14 Wye Oak and William Brittelle: Spiritual America with special guest Michi Wiancko, Aria, Minneapolis.

Nov. 13 Miranda Cuckson Sun Propeller, Bedlam Lowertown, St Paul.

Feb 11, 2016 Daniel Wohl: Holographic With Mantra Percussion and Holographic String Quartet, Ordway Concert Hall, St. Paul.

March 19, 2016 Laurie Anderson: The Language of the Future, Fitzgerald Theater, St Paul.

March 24, 2016 Vicky Chow and Tristan Perich: Surface Image, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

April 1-2, 2016 Kid Koala and Afiara Quartet: Nufonia Must Fall, Walker Art Center.

April 26, 2016 Saul Williams and Mivos Quartet: No One Ever Does, James J. Hill Reference Library, St. Paul.

May 13-14, 2016 Devendra Banhart and friends: Wind Grove Mind Alone, Walker Art Center.

June 16-18 2016 Steven Mackey: "Orpheus Unsung" world premiere, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis.

Ongoing s t a r g a z e and Polica: Liquid Music artists in virtual residence.