|Charles Yang, Ranaan Meyer, and Nicholas "Nick" Kendall|
Last night's venture beyond our comfort zone was, uncharacteristically, a huge success. We have learned that someone with excellent curatorial skills can lead us down unusual pathways and open our ears to something we didn't expect to love. Andrew Ousley, the mastermind behind Death of Classical--comprising The Crypt Sessions at The Church of the Intercession as well as The Angel's Share at Green-Wood Cemetery--knows how to provide superb evenings of unmitigated delight to a small select audience, of which we were thrilled to be a member.
Last night at The Crypt we had a musical experience that satisfied our soul by virtue of a trio of artists sharing their music in a magical space deep underground, lit only by candles. We were enthralled by the melodic and harmonic invention and the intensity with which the three men related to one another, their instruments, and the audience. Taking notes would have distracted us from this intimate experience. We just listened.
Most of the vocals were handled by Charles Yang who plays a mean violin; giving the double bass more melody than we've ever heard was Ranaan Meyer; Nicolas "Nick" Kendall contributed his violin magic and all joined for what might be called "backup singing" but which we would call texture.
Some of the numbers they performed were originals, some were composed for them, and yet others were "covers", although our lack of knowledge of popular music prevents us from naming them. We had the feeling that there was a considerable degree of momentary improvisation. As in any chamber group there was nearly constant eye contact--but no scores to dilute the intimacy.
The three artists are clearly classically trained and our minimal knowledge of string technique allowed us to recognize double stops and pizzicato. However, there were other techniques that we hadn't seen before like strumming and plucking. Mr. Meyer did things to his double bass that we usually think of as ways a man might touch a woman--caressing, stroking, tapping, and light scratching. Yes, these artists do love their instruments!
With such unfamiliar music we felt free to associate. At times we thought of The Beatles, at times Bluegrass music with its lively banjo, at times the kind of Country Music one might hear at a hoedown, as well as folk tunes which we could not quite place. All these styles were perfectly integrated into a pleasing and absorbing whole. The program was predominantly happy music until the end when the trio played music that sounded deep and sacred.
We were not alone in our enthusiastic appreciation. The Crypt holds less than 50 music lovers but the deafening applause gave the impression of hundreds. The trio has played in some mighty grand venues but we were grateful for the intimacy. The connection between the artists and the audience provided a unique experience, one that we are not likely to forget!
We might add that Mr. Ousley has another series up his sleeve and if you follow Voce di Meche on Facebook you will be among the first to find out--which is a good thing because Death of Classical events sell out immediately.
© meche kroop