Art in America: Orchestral Manoeuvres at the Armory
A review of Metropolis Ensemble’s performance at The Armory Show on March 7, 2012 by Art in America’s Paul David Young:
The program got off to a firm start on Wednesday at the VIP preview with an unusual composition by Icelandic artist Örn Alexander Ámundason, “Kreppa: A symphonic poem about the financial situation in Iceland,” superbly performed by the Metropolis Ensemble, a New York chamber orchestra that specializes in new music and contemporary composition.
The result strangely and rather convincingly resembled a piece of early 12-tone music of the Viennese variety, perhaps because the human voice is naturally serial, repeating tonal patterns within a restricted range.
Despite the method of its composition, the music held its own and seemed to tell a story, perhaps at least as intelligible as the verbal ones in circulation among most commentators. Ámundason chose his instruments with an ear for music and some humor. The double bass at the beginning, representing a controversial Icelandic politician, gave way to a succession of instruments, often playing at the same time though by no means the same notes.
The chronological sequence ended with a ukulele, standing in for the openly lesbian prime minister elected in 2009, after the fall of the laissez-faire conservative government that had presided over the spectacular collapse of Iceland’s banks and financial system. The protestors, who came out in Iceland in force well before the Occupiers, are heard as a marimba, intoning with the clarity of bells the voices of the people in the streets.
Artistic Director Andrew Cyr conducted the extremely able musicians of the Metropolis Ensemble.