1. Grooves on a Soundscape
When soprano Stephanie Aston takes the stage for the finale of the soundON Festival of Modern Music, she’ll sing as if she were a 16th-century nun in the grip of 40 days’ religious ecstasy, but she’ll sound like a volcano in the distance.
That’s how composer Salvatore Sciarrino describes his music, and his treatment of Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi in “Infinito Nero” is a quietly violent composition for woodwind and voice. The instruments wheeze and click like heartbeats, broken up by eruptions of Italian phrases.
“The text is actually kind of gruesome,” says Aston, a UCSD alum. “It talks about the spirit transforming into blood, understanding nothing but blood, being nothing but blood…. I’m getting all of this text out as fast as possible, and the other instruments are swelling up at the same time.”
The festival is in its sixth year, and Sciarrino’s piece fits well within soundON’s mission of showcasing challenging music by living composers. This year’s fest features works from more than 15 composers that weave between two themes: textural soundscapes created by instruments played in unusual ways and chamber music that incorporates groove and popular influences.
If Sciarrino’s composition is an example of the soundscape, then Frederic Rzewki’s “Song and Dance” brings the groove, blurring the gap between notation and improvisation while exploring different ways to look at time.
“Rzewski was one of those people who really tried to break down the worlds of low-brow and high-brow music,” says contrabassist Mark Dresser, who’ll be playing the piece, as well as some of his own compositions, as the festival’s featured guest artist. “It’s really a fun, fun piece and quite challenging and should be a gas to play.”
The festival runs from Thursday June 14 through Saturday, June 16, with each night’s programming beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library (1008 Wall St. in La Jolla). All festival passes are $50; single-night tickets are $20.
2. Party in a half shell
Oysters are said to be an aphrodisiac. If that’s the case, San Diego Oysterfest is going to be one hot-and-heavy shindig. Feast on tons of Swamibu oysters starting at noon on Saturday, June 16, at Marina Embarcadero North (849 W. Harbor Drive). Along with endless oysters and possibly awkward sexual tension, there’ll be cooking demos, a Shuck & Suck competition and plenty of beer, wine and cocktails to wash down your shellfish. While taking in the sights and seafood, check out sets from Iration, Vokab Kompany, The Silent Comedy, Little Hurricane and Splitfinger. Tickets are $25, with a select number of $100 VIP tickets available. Call the sitter, because this is a 21-and-up event.
3. Urban promenade
Not too long ago, El Cajon Boulevard was known for its retro neon sign, prostitutes and late-night greasy spoons. Now it’s home to some great places to eat, drink and shop and a heck of a cheerleader in Beryl Forman, the marketing manager for the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, who’s been organizing cool events that showcase all ECB has to offer. From 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, Boulevard Nights highlights businesses on the southside of the Boulevard, between 30th and Kansas streets. Check out a homebrew competition at new beer-making-supply store The Homebrewer, screenings of films by participants in the Media Arts Center’s Teen Producers Project, the unveiling of a new mural by Isaias Crow and a display of art by Leah Younker at Coffee & Tea Collective.
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