NEOSonicFest: FiveOne Experimental Orchestra Performs at Zygote Press on March 28

By Mike Telin

The 2015 edition of NEOSonicFest will end with a bang when FiveOne Experimental Orchestra (51XO) presents an innovative program on Saturday, March 28 at 8:00 pm at Zygote Press. Along with other surprises, the evening will include music by Marc Mellits, David Crowell, and Ted Hearne as well as a 51XO Zygote Jam.

“We wanted to play someplace downtown for the Festival, and when I checked out Zygote Press I was completely captivated by some of the equipment that they have,” 51XO’s artistic director John HC Thompson explained during a telephone conversation. “They have a lot of antiquated printing equipment and other toys we can play with like hoses, vacuum cleaners and giant pieces of metal. We’ve been having fun figuring out how to incorporate all these things into the show.”

The first half of the evening will take place in Zygote’s intimate gallery space with the orchestra set up in the center. The audience will be invited to sit or stand in a circle around the musicians.

The program will begin with Marc Mellits’s Machine V (2001), a recent addition to 51XO’s repertoire. “We performed it for the first time last month,” Thompson said, “and it’s a really good piece that makes a very good opener. It says ‘Here We Are’ to the audience. It’s very fast and energetic — almost like punk rock with its repeated eighth notes and meter changes. It’s very intense.”

Two pieces by David Crowell will follow — Waiting in the Rain for Snow (2011), a work they are reprising from last season’s NEOSonicFest, and the world premiere of Like a Machine, a 51XO commission. “This is our first formal commission,” Thompson said. “We played Waiting in the Rain last year. All the members of the group really liked the style, so it became the seed for commissioning David to write this new work. We’re playing the two pieces back-to-back so the audience can hear the music that inspired us, but also to show how David has developed as a composer. He has a very distinct compositional style and it’s fascinating to put the two pieces side by side. Like a Machine is extremely difficult, and we’ve been rehearsing it constantly this past month. We’re excited to be able to play it for the first time in public at the show.” 

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