A Crimson Grail redux

After deciding earlier in the year not to be a part of the redux for Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail for 200 guitars at Lincoln Center (was to be on tour and not in NYC), a change in plans and a last minute cancellation allowed me to see this adventure through from last year’s rained out disappointment.

Because of a Prehistoric Horse gig on Wednesday night, I was unable to make the first rehearsal and was hence relegated to repeating last years rather boring Alto 1 part (they are all pretty minimalist easy, but the Alto 1 is particularly so). Rehearsals on Thursday and Friday were very good and I will echo the sentiments of other 2008 veterans that the changes made to the score and group organization/planning were a big improvement. Fridays full rehearsal in the FIT Hall was really stunning and perhaps the peak of the experience. The enclosed environment and excellent acoustics brought out incredible overtones – at times it sounded as if it were hundreds of human voices chanting rather than guitars chiming, interspersed with moments of delicious, wall-shaking volume. Very pretty, yet very powerful. May I present this recording of a section of Part II at Friday’s rehearsal as evidence?

A Crimson Grail Pt II (partial)

Unfortunately, I found the actual performance to be a bit lacking in comparison. The execution did not seem as tight and the open air reduced the resonances that were present at Friday’s rehearsal. The effect was still large, the crowd certainly loved it (standing O) and it is always exhilarating to be appreciated by thousands of people! Couldn’t stick around for Liquid Liquid and the after party though as orchestra colleague, Scrote and I needed to rush off to a gallery gig in Queens right after the piece (more on that in the next blog entry). Overall it was a worthwhile experience – despite the amount of time required and the sometimes over-simplistic direction. But heck, got to play at Lincoln Center, make some connections and hang with some really cool people. Well, that’s alright, mama.