Concert shows off Wentz’s highlights
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media February 17, 2011 10:04AM
EXPLORE THE SOUND III
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23
Where: Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
Cost: $5 for adults; $3 for students and seniors
Contact: Call 630-637-SHOW or visit http://tickets.noctrl.edu/
Updated: June 9, 2011 5:23AM
Seeing a movie in 3-D is all the rage these days. An upcoming concert at North Central College in Naperville is the sonic equivalent of that experience.
“Explore the Sound III” is a concert featuring a variety of North Central singers and musicians, including Women’s Chorale, Cardinal Chorus, Chamber Singers, selected instrumental chamber ensembles and solo faculty performers.
These groups will perform a wide variety of music from every nook and cranny of Wentz Concert Hall in a seamless, theatrically staged performance, said Ramona Wis. Wis is the Mimi Rolland Distinguished Professor in the Fine Arts at North Central College and is chairwoman of the Department of Music.
“Explore the Sound” debuted three years ago when Wentz opened as a way to explore exactly what the hall was capable of sounding like. It will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at Wentz.
The concert features the Women’s Chorale, Mixed Chamber Singers and the Cardinal Chorus; as well as the eight-member flute choir, string ensemble, piano solos and duets, French horn and student percussionists.
“Every space you perform in has its own set of acoustical challenges. We had no intentions of this being an annual event; we just thought we need to know the facility and what works and what doesn’t work,” she said. “The only way to do that was to target a concert where that was the goal. We found it was very fun to do that. Sound is a very live and elusive thing. Each time any of us steps into the hall with whatever group we have, it seems somehow different. There’s always a sense we have to explore and learn.”
The twist is that all of these different groups or individuals performing will be spread throughout Wentz. They could be in the loft in the upper level, the stage, in stairwells, on the aisles or in a resonance chamber — anywhere you could imagine different sounds and timbres resonating from that will create an interesting experience; sonically, spatially and visually, she said.
“We will use theatrical lighting that will change on occasion to reflect the music and allow us to see performers from different places,” she said. “It’s a really pretty concert. It is very challenging for performers. We feel it is representative of what cutting-edge performance groups are doing these days, which is to break the traditional barriers. It’s more organic, we’re forcing ourselves and our audiences to experience music in a little less traditional way.”
All totaled, 125 musicians will perform “next to you or above you, in front of you or behind you,” Wis said.
“It’s like breaking the fourth wall. It would be like if someone reached their hand out of the TV set. We experienced it in 3-D movies. We try to break that and surround you in different ways with music and give you a different experience, as well as providing high-quality musical performances.”
The programming is challenging and out of the norm for the ensembles, she said. Directors will choose risky repertoire specific to this environment. For example, the Women’s Chorale is doing a piece that is mostly wordless called “Odysseus and the Sirens” based on the mythology of Odysseus and the sea sirens from “The Odyssey.”
“It’s a very mysterious piece, and it includes sounds like waves lapping and a hollow vocal line. It’s a cool piece, but it’s a strange piece. They’re standing on risers in full light. This is film score kind of music.”
There will be singing in other languages, from different time periods and of varying styles.
Wis urges patrons to come with no expectations, she said, other than to experience the sounds and visual aspects of the music in a unique way.
“I think they should plan to be surprised and delighted, and maybe challenged, and hopefully they’ll enjoy it as something different than a normal concert.”