Last week was a busy one! After Tuesday’s Moritz/Insectotròpics event, on Thursday I had another concert with the Barcelona Laptop Orchestra — this time at l’Auditori, in Sala 2 (Oriol Martorell). There wasn’t enough advance publicity, and we ended up very (very!) far from filling the 600-seat venue, but it was a great experience nonetheless. It was fun to be behind the scenes at such a large and professionally-run venue. It reminded me of my Banff Centre days.
We performed three pieces. First up was a revival of one of the BLO’s classics from previous years: la Roda (“the wheel”), in which fragments of audio pass through the hands of each player successively, allowing them to modify and then pass them on — much like the children’s game “telephone”.
After that, we performed a new work in progress, Quo-tr, which was specially created for us by composer Orm Finnendahl, with support from the Barcelona branch of the Goethe Institut (we will perform this piece again this Friday, April 26, as part of the Mixtur festival). In it, five performers make real-world sounds (in my case, using Tibetan bowls, marbles, velcro, paper, a bird chirper, and more), which are incorporated and “quoted back” by a graphical score, controlled by elaborate Pd patches created by Orm.
Our final piece of the evening was our popular CliX ReduX, which I revisited for this latest performance. Since we were outputting to stereo PA and not one speaker per player, I created a centralized client/server version in SuperCollider, which sends instructions from each player over the network. The new version also makes it easy to build looping fragments of letters/notes, which means that interesting and complex rhythms can be improvised. As usual, a large video projection showed our faces and other snippets from my “videoSampler” in the background, synchronized with the audio playback.
The ESMUC building, where we normally rehearse, is physically connected to these big concert halls, so we hauled all our gear down the back corridors to Sala 2 on three trolleys, starting around 15h00. The show was at 19h00, and we made full use of those hours to get ready. We had a total of nine performers, spread over the three pieces. Another group, the Unmapped collective (from Paris), shared the stage with us, performing an interesting mix of live instruments (bassoon and flute) with laptop sound manipulations.
It was an interesting experience to be on-stage at such a large venue. We had to clear the auditorium before the public entered, and it was odd to be outside, sitting and having a “relaxed” tea at the café, watching people go into the theatre just minutes before our show, then running back in the stage door and through the labyrinthine underground halls to magically appear on stage, just in the nick of time. I’m getting more used to it, but these things are always somewhat nerve-wracking (especially the setups, rushed rehearsals, last-minute substitutions of faulty WiFi routers, etc), but ultimately rewarding. Thankfully, everyone is very focused and competent, when it comes to “crunch time”. These shows really are a team effort.