zoe keating

Eugene Ballet preview: Interactive Dialogue of Vibrating Frequencies

“White Noise” blends contemporary music, choreography, and projected imagery

by GARY FERRINGTON

Carmina Burana epitomizes the ballet/musical warhorse: it’s popular, tuneful, and looks backward, both to the 1230 manuscript and the medieval sound Carl Orff’s 1936 music evokes. To provide a dramatic contrast to that classic for their Feb. 13-14 performances at Eugene’s Hult Center, Eugene Ballet Company’s Artistic Director Toni Pimble chose a forward-looking new work: White Noise, a collaborative dance and interactive media performance created by San Francisco-based choreographer Amy Seiwert.

Seiwert’s White Noise Ballet. Photo: Scot Godman.

Seiwert’s ‘White Noise’ ballet. Photo: Scot Godman.

For Pimble, White Noise explores the look of dance in a new world — a world that combines contemporary music and choreography with computer technology and digital media. Choreographed by Seiwert with music by Zoë Keating and interactive video by Frieder Weiss, White Noise is “a courageous, cutting edge ballet working with new technology,” Pimble commented in an ArtsWatch interview. 

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This weekend is so packed with terrific music that when OAW’s James McQuillen and I compared notes on the eight Portland concerts we’re covering this weekend, we discovered that there was no overlap—and that, sadly, we both have to miss still another very attractive show. Plenty of cities would love to face such dilemmas. Even more would be thrilled to see so many examples of classically influenced music made and enjoyed by musicians and music lovers under 40—some even under 20.


Avant cellist Zoe Keating performs at the Shedd in Eugene and the Aladdin Theater in Portland this weekend.

In another post this weekend, James and I will discuss Thursday’s fascinating 45thParallel performance. The string quartet featured — amazingly — the 16-year-old concertmaster of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Michael Siess. That orchestra closes its season at Arlene Schnitzer  concert hall Sunday afternoon with a splendid program of one of the most popular orchestral compositions of our time, Jennifer Higdon’s Blue Cathedral; one of the 20th century’s most striking works, the fascinating Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas’s spooky Sensemaya; another 20th century classic, this one written in Oregon —  Ernest Bloch’s Hebraic Suite, plus Brahms’s Symphony #2.  If you close your eyes, chance are you won’t realize the players are teenagers.

Still more young classical music talent will be on display at the same time Sunday afternoon, across the street in the Newmark Theater, when Portland Piano International brings pianist extraordinaire Christopher O’Riley’s popular radio show From the Top to town. The concert will feature promising young left coast musicians including Portland teenager Ruta Kuzmickas, and will be broadcast later on the all-classical station the 45th Parallel concerts benefited.

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