Mythmusica Pyschosonic Expedition
with Jennifer Curtis, violin, and her UNC Violin Studio
Sun. Mar 23, 8 – until – Free
Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Remember that really beautiful Sunday a couple of weeks back that was sandwiched between two winter weather events? I was enjoying an afternoon of Bows & Brews at Steel String Brewery in Carrboro. In a light cotton shirt and flip flops. I wasn’t there for the brews. I was there for the bows. The bows of Jennifer Curtis and friends. They were playing Schubert’s cello quintet. There were five of them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Jennifer. Musical totality. A natural and intoxicating extension of whatever she’s playing is dead-ahead commitment to the music from head to toe, inside and out. Her body and mind in constant motion. Her feet leave the floor and almost dance in the air as if the music might walk (or run) away with her, or she with it.
During a break the opportunity to duet with Dex Romweber presented itself. She on her violin, Dex on his classic Silvertone. It was a moment. Unscripted. Satisfying.
She was still in motion as she talked about Mythmusica Psychosonic Expedition, an inter-disciplinary, multi-instrumental, and multi-cultural mythological/narrative performance based on “The Waste Land,” by T.S. Eliot produced and created by Jennifer and a handful of her UNC violin students. “Come. Meet my students,” she invited as she pulled me over to introduce me to two of her students, Ledah Finck (composer/violin) and Avery McGuirt (violin/mandolin, loop pedals/vocals).
Ledah, from Boone, was five when she started violin lessons and now can’t imagine doing anything else. “Violin has always been a strong presence in my life, but I’ve wanted it to be my career as well as my hobby since I was 15 or 16.”
Growing up in Charlotte, Avery also started violin early. Currently a chemistry major at UNC, he stays very involved in the music program. “I was steeped in the eclectic musical tastes of my father, and was inspired to take up the violin when I was five. I started out studying classical music,but soon branched out into jazz and bluegrass. Here at UNC, I take lessons with Jennifer, as well as participate in the baroque ensemble and my quartet.”
In learning that Jennifer, who holds degrees from Mills College and Juilliard School, will not be returning to UNC to teach after this semester, I was curious what Ledah and Avery’s one take-away was from studyingwith Jennifer. They were clearly inspired by her.
“In my time studying with Jennifer, I have above all come away with her ever present sense of enjoyment and exploration in music,” said Ledah. “Playing with her is never a job or work but an exercise in curiosity. She’s helped me integrate my more academic and worldly interests with my music playing-which is really what Mythmusica is about.”
Jennifer has been an amazing voice of artistic humility in an oftentimes very self-important academic culture,” commented Avery. “Her appreciation and use of a huge variety of musical styles and cultures continues to be an inspiration.”
Additional artistic guests who will be performing in the Mythmusica Psychosonic Expedition include Ina Liu (violin/dance/visual arts), Kaira Ba’s Diali Cissokhi and Will Ridenour (koras and percussion), Robbie Link (bass), Chris Johnson (tabla), Skye Mcloed (cajón and bodhrán), and film makers Prashant Bhargava and Petna Ndaliko. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more surprises.
Somehow these two lines from “The Waste Land” seem utterly appropriate:
“…A woman drew her long black hair out tight
and fiddled whisper music on those strings …”
–What the Thunder Said, from “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot
The instrumental shuffle: