Guest blog review: Mobtown Modern presents Michael Lowenstern
My thanks to Megan Ihnen, mezzo, concert presenter, blogger and more, for submitting this account of the latest Mobtown Modern program.
Michael Lowenstern, considered one of the finest and perhaps the most innovative bass clarinetist in the world, muses from the stage about a conversation he had with his 3 year old daughter.
“Daddy, write something I would like,” he recounts to the small crowd gathered for the Thursday night Mobtown Modern performance at the Windup Space. Knowing chuckles rose from the tables flung about like a Chicago jazz club done through a quirky Baltimore lens.
Lowenstern took his daughter’s request to heart and created the pieces for the album Ten Children.
Along with selections from that album, Lowenstern delighted the audience with pieces featuring his innumerable bass clarinet timbres, occasional voice/body percussion, tech-savvy multi-tracked layering, and his approachable stage presence.
An unmistakable hint of humor runs through Lowenstern’s compositions and performance. His is the “serious new music” featuring (gasp!) technology in live performance that even non-new music people like.
From the initial moments of Trick, the first piece of the evening, he established a groove that propelled the audience through the rest of the performance.
Lowenstern uses a system called ...
Catapulting from Klezmer influences in Sha to searing harmonica lines in a 2006 piece entitled My Mouth; the character and tone of each of his pieces change continuously. For example, Lowenstern plays whirling dervish loops in the third piece of his cycle Ten Children then contrasts with the beautiful, melodic lullaby in the tenth piece.
He demonstrated his humor, later in the evening, when he invited two audience members to play iPhones using phrases cut from English language learning tapes. He juxtaposes male and female voices with questions and statements for uproarious results while he loops frenzied musical lines in the background.
Mobtown Modern has a highly successful programming history and Michael Lowenstern’s performance adds to it. Co-Founders Brian Sacawa (Series Curator) and Erik Spangler (Sound Lab Curator) work hard to ensure that they are bringing high-quality, innovative contemporary performances to Baltimore. In fact, most of their programming is rarely heard in the Mid-Atlantic area.
Baltimoreans should certainly seek out their next concert, ZeroTime Operations, on April 28th which features a networked performance of two groups of archeologist/musicians, one in Rome and one in Baltimore.
-- Megan Ihnen
PHOTO COURTESY OF EARSPASM.COM