How do you describe the sound of 100 tuba players performing a conceptual, abstract, 40-minute piece with both the musicians and conductors improvising? Well, “controlled chaos” comes to mind.
On Sunday, the tubists performed Anthony Braxton’s Composition No. 19 for 100 tubas as part of the Blanton Museum of Art‘s ongoing SoundSpace series. The program, which is overseen by the Blanton’s artistic director Steven Parker, DMA ’12, brings together musicians and other creative types from around Austin’s artistic community to collaborate in performances at the museum that explore the intersection between visual and aural.
The tubists lined up and entered the museum’s Rapoport Atrium while playing an intro that sounded like a low buzz. The players then faced different directions, with a different conductor on each side. Over the course of 40 minutes, the groups split up, marched in slow processionals up and down stairs, out into the courtyard of the museum, and ultimately gave new meaning to “surround sound” audio for the audience as the four groups spread out and played from all different directions.