The opening night of the Moab Music Festival will feature the classical works of Robert Schumann, Sergei Prokofiev and Johannes Brahams.
But, there’s more.
There will be Nicholas Canellakis’ “Self Portrait”, a multi-media piece for piano, cello and film. And then there is Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi of Rabbit Rabbit, the duo that creates violin-led indie-pop music. The two will premiere “The Animated Room”, which is based on poet Kenneth Koch’s “1000 Avant-Garde Plays”.
The variety of artistic expression begins at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30 at Star Hall to launch the Moab Music Festival’s 21st season of celebrating “music in concert with the landscape.”
Kihlstedt and Bossi were commissioned by Koch’s widow, Karen Koch, to create the 10-minute piece.
Kenneth Koch was one of the New York School of Poets, whose members included John Ashbery, James Schuyler and Frank O’Hara. The New York School was an informal group of artists from the 1950s and ’60s that drew inspiration from the avant-garde movement.
Kenneth Koch wrote hundreds of avant-garde plays over his 50-year career. “1000 Avant-Garde Plays”, published in 1988, features 116 of those plays, some of which are only a few lines in length.
Karen Koch wanted to create a project that celebrated her husband’s work. She spoke with Moab Music Festival director Michael Barrett about it.
“Why don’t we bring in music and dance and all the elements of the theater with composers and writers to create a theatrical evening about it?” he asked.
Karen Koch discovered the Carla Kihlstedt while attending the New York Festival of Song with Barrett.
“She was taken with Carla,” Barrett said. “She thought she was fabulous.”
They agreed to commission Kihlstedt to create a piece and then try it out at the Moab Music Festival.
“This is the first installation of a bigger project,” Barrett said. “There are no guarantees, but that is the thinking behind it. She has the originality to bring to this project.”
There will be a singer, two pianos, a couple of string players and a bassoon.
“And then some of his text,” Barrett said. “At a minimum, it will be fun.”
Barrett has known Kihlstedt for 10 years. She previously performed at the Moab Music Festival with Two Foot Yard.
“She’s a singer, composer and violin player,” Barrett said. “Her music straddles popular and rock and roll and classical and everything in between.”
Laura Brown, director of the Moab Music Festival, said that Kihlstedt and Bossi reflect a focus on new and inventive artists that will be featured this year.
“When Michael put this all together, there are a lot of new faces, and lot of young faces,” Brown said.
Kihlstedt and Bossi borrowed an English tradition for the name of their group “Rabbit Rabbit”.
It is customary to speak the words “Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first day of the month to ensure good luck for the rest of the month. As part of the custom, the two launched Rabbit Rabbit Radio in February 2012 to release a new song on the first day of the month to their subscribers.
Kihlstedt and Bossi will be featured at the Open Rehearsal Conversation 1 held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 31 at Star Hall. The event is free, but tickets are advised. They will then share their music later that evening during “The Future of American Song” concert to be held at Red Cliffs Lodge.
Brown is a fan of their music.
“I would listen to them as regular music in the car. I wouldn’t consider it classical music. It is an infusion of the two,” Brown said. “For people who don’t like classical, or who think the festival only is only classical, they should come to that concert. They will get a kick out of it.”