Access Contemporary Music (ACM) Presents SPECIFIC GRAVITY Review – Galactic

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How do you capture the sounds of the Universe?

The updated classy look of the Davis Movie Theater, a place depicting a specific time and feel of 20’s ambience, is an appropriate locale for listening to music capturing the sound of the space and time continuum. There's a feeling of anachronism as SPECIFIC GRAVITY explores different cosmic happenings through music.  Allthe while we are sitting amidst a snapshot of a particular era, on a small planet called Earth. Five different compositions blast the audience out of the known into a dizzying array of trills, unusual use of common instruments and unnatural rhythms. You close your eyes; youare transported out of the here and now.

Access Contemporary Music (ACM) gives us music AND space lessons

In between the ten-minute long compositions, Artistic Director Seth Boustead and guest Ashley Hamer (host of the podcast Curiosity Daily), talk science in laymen terms, and expand the audience’s perception. For example, after we learn about what a Red Shiftis --defined by Oxford dictionary as “he displacement of spectral lines towards longer wavelengths (the red end of the spectrum) in radiation from distant galaxies and celestial objects--, we hear composer Lois V. Vierk’s exploration of long sound waves appearing red on the spectrum.Then,composer Olga Neuwirth’s composition of Quasare/Pulsare follows an explanation of those particular cosmic phenomena. Rounding off the evening program, were performances of Specific Gravity by Lansing McLoskey, Stars in Dead Reflection by Christopher Stark, and Horizons by Paul Lansky.

Can highly conceptual music be accessible to a non-musician?

A highly skilled musician can breakdown this concert using music theory and appreciate the composers on a level beyond that of what the regular listener can understand. It is only fair to ask if a non-musician will get it. ACM stands for Access Contemporary Music and it is their mission to integrate musical creativity in everyday life. And although, if you’re not a musician, you might not understand the technique used to portray an astronomical element, the complex sounds emitting from the stage certainly remind you of your own cosmic smallness and human limitations. There’s an unusual sort of comfort in that helplessness. It provokes feelings of existentialism. Any piece of art that helps you question your reason for being here is serving its purpose, in this writer’s view. And the aptly named Galaxy 75 and Black Hole cocktails being served next door didn’t hurt those explorations.


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For more information and notices of future performances, please visit the Access Contemporary Music website.

Photos courtesy of Access Contemporary Music

Click here to read more Picture This Post Access Contemporary Music stories.

Tonika Todorova

About the Author:

Tonika Todorova is a freelance writer and director that goes by the self imposed title of Adventure Architect. She experiences a lot of performance with her eight year old son, Jaxon, by her side, and his reflections on Chicago theatre offer a refreshingly new perspective for her, and hopefully, others. Jaxon practices autonomous learning and is proud to be an Albany Park Chicago Children's Choir singer.

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