Monday, November 14, 2011

Modern Communication Enhances Classical Music

Fifth House Ensemble--Nov. 14 

Usually, I reserve Thursday-Saturday as my evenings to go out.  But there's something more intimate about a Monday night crowd.  It's like going to a film festival in a snowstorm, or getting last-minute directions to the evasive forest party.  If you go, you get the t-shirt.

That's how I felt last night when I went to the Horizons Concert Series performance of Fifth House Ensemble.  The crowd was small, but we were special.  We were watching something new, something bold--we were watching something develop before our eyes.  The Horizons Concert Series, organized by School of Music director Todd Sullivan, is meant to provide "mind-bending experiences that complement all else that happens in town, and make the musical opportunities and experiences deeper and wider."  The performance, "In Transit: #undercoverhero" was a musical exploration of "Tim," a young boy who experiences bullying.  His story included comic books, online chat rooms, Twitter, hashmarks and Mozart.  

My friends wavered between watching the narrative unfold on the screen to paying attention to the music.  It may have been a little distracting for musical purists--The music was at times a sound track; at other times it was the main character.  But the beauty of this performance was that Fifth House Ensemble (5HE) provided a world to step into.  Our everyday sensibilities of modern communications were engaged in ways that classical music doesn't usually do. For a young audience, In Transit transcended the classical music boundaries and engaged us in the performance, actually asking us to pull out our cell phones at the end of the evening! 

The finale was when we each texted and tweeted our own hopes and dreams for Tim.  The various texts from the audience were displayed on the screen as they arrived.  "I hope the meathead's bullying days are over."  "I hope Tim and the meathead become best friends for life!"  "I hope Fifth House comes back to Flagstaff."  (here's their Twitter page, to see more of the audience's remarks.)

The Horizons Concert Series can sometimes go under the radar because it's held on Monday nights.  Don't be fooled.  Sometimes the biggest things happen on the quietest evenings.

The next Horizons Concert Series will feature award-wining Elena Urioste, violin joining  Michael Brown, piano on Wed., Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. at Ashurst Hall.

Individual tickets for the Horizons Concert Series are $20 for adults, $12.50 for seniors and NAU faculty and staff, free for NAU students with an ID and children. For tickets to all events, call 928-523-5661. For more information on the season, please visit

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