'a disruption' by John Patrick Stewart
On September 22, Penn Museum will be presenting John Patrick Stewart’s latest composition “a disruption” in their Chinese Rotunda...
September 22 , 8:00 PM
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
As part of Philadelphia’s 2017 Fringe Arts Festival, Penn Museum will be presenting John Patrick Stewart’s latest composition “a disruption”
a disruption is a 50-minute musical performance of swirling, sputtering percussive dissonance. It was encouraged at a macro level by disruptions that weave through our physical, cultural, and psychological landscape; conveying the conflict and resolve we experience when energy is wedged violently into the inescapable arrow of time.
The piece was specifically written to be performed in a circular space. The spatial direction of the music, the placement of the musicians, and the centrally located audience are all radial in nature. The selection of a performance venue was important. The Penn Museum Chinese Rotunda stands out as an ideal location. Not only does it match the geometric requirement, it also thematically matches the composition’s inspiration of cultural disruption.
composition & performance
During the writing process, it was understood that each of the instruments would occupy a specific spatial coordinate. From there, five core building blocks were conceived; melodic gestures, rhythmic gestures, spatial gestures, pulse gestures, and directional gestures.
melodic | rhythmic gestures
Melodic and Rhythmic gestures are easily understood as traditional compositional devices of note selection and sequence repetition.
To take advantage of spatial aspects of the venue, the primary instrument slots have been separated in to eleven units; 4 pianists, 3 cellists, and 4 percussionists. The musicians are dragged radially from a center point and surround the audience; placing them in a symbolic cage within the performance space.
Using this additional spatial aspect of the arrangement, discussion and argument between musicians can be experienced from within. Beyond the conventional one-sided separation of audience and musician.
Pulse-like variance is used throughout the composition to communicate matters of confusion, weakness, and strength. Within each piece the change in distance between notes is functionally adjusted to expand and contract the pulse. This happens either in unison between the instrument groups, within instrument groups, or by each individual performer.
Performer coordination and placement is used to create an illusion of movement. Chaotic swirling gestures and radially smeared dissonance are positioned alongside sparse high pitched mosaics. Notes are thrown back and forth and around the room
John Patrick Stewart is composer, drummer, and multi-media artist based in Philadelphia. His current works focus on expanding audience’s auditory experience within live performance. He also composes, records, and plays drums in Sabzabi, a local performance project which recently released their second album “On Having Become Obsolete.”