Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Chris Childs Orchestra, The Mammal Gallery, Atlanta, September 25, 2015

On a momentous night for the advancement of Atlanta's downtown rejuvenation and growth of it's artistic community, the alternative weekly newspaper, Creative Loafing, celebrated its annual Best of Atlanta issue with a block party on South Broad Street.  South Broad, formerly the home to mostly abandoned shop fronts and a few marginal businesses, is being transformed with the assistance of The Goat Farm into a new arts district, with The Mammal Gallery and Eyedrum already operating in the area and new enterprises, such as Murmur and The Downtown Players Club, starting up.  The block party served not only to celebrate the Loaf's selections of the city's best but also as a formal debut of the Broad Street Arts District.

There were numerous events as a part of the party, including dance, gallery exhibits, and music, but the highlight was the first performance of the Chris Childs Orchestra in The Mammal Gallery.

The performance was originally scheduled to take place on the rooftop of Eyedrum, but due to inclement weather was moved to inside The Mammal Gallery.  The misty rain of the evening did not seem to dampen the mood of those celebrating the Creative Loafing event and the debut of the Broad Street Arts District, or take anything away from the Chris Childs' performance.

Before the orchestra played, Childs led a quartet of marimba, flute, oboe and percussion through a chamber piece to set the mood for modern compositional music.  Introducing the piece, Childs said it only consisted of four bars, but was set in 100/4ths time (so you try to figure it out). 

25 or so of some of Atlanta's best musicians (I recognized members of Faun and a Pan Flute, Hello Ocho, and Little Tybee) took the stage as The Chris Childs Orchestra and performed his composition /ˈsīlən(t)s/, a study of tones and moods in three movements. 

Little Tybee's Nirvana Kelly (left) took a very short solo.

I hesitate to provide a clip, as the whole composition was so varied and dynamic that any segment taken out of context does not at all represent the whole.  But, whatever, here's 30 seconds of /ˈsīlən(t)s/.

It was a breathtaking and wonderful performance, and in keeping with the DIY ethic of the Broad Street Arts Center, it showed how even orchestral music can be composed, performed, and presented outside of the mainstream by self-motivated artists.  

I on't know what the future plans of the Orchestra are, but Atlanta would be a far more interesting city if music and art continued to be presented in settings like The Mammal Gallery and the new Broad Street Arts District.

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