Lawrence artists to present “On Being Alive

Paul Karner

Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel will host a trio of familiar faces in a strikingly unfamiliar performance Saturday night. Former Lawrentian Karl McComas-Reichl will join senior conservatory students Doug Detrick and Becca Young in a series of original pieces combining improvisational music and dance. Detrick, a trumpet and composition major, along with Young, a voice major with a dance background, will be presenting the birth of an idea conceived earlier this year.
Young and Detrick began collaborating this summer with a sense of experimentation. Though the two artists had hopes of performing it in the future, the sessions were so successful that they scheduled a performance months before they had originally planned. The basic goal of the project is for the audience, as well as the performers, to experience music and dance in an entirely improvisational setting. The program, titled “On Being Alive,” is a series of five improvisations focusing on that very theme. McComas-Reichl. A bassist, will serve as a foundation for the trio’s different combinations and diverse set of pieces.
When asked which artists were more directly influential to them regarding “On Being Alive,” Young and Detrick mentioned choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage – though not without a bit of a laugh. Perhaps the most famous avant-garde collaboration of this type, the works of Cage and Cunningham were primarily composed using chance operations – such as rolling a die – and later performed with the same rigors of any composition. Contrarily, Young stated, “we found we were getting the most out of the improvisations when the ideas were more personal.” What resulted was much less of a compositional or artistic statement, but rather an exercise in self-expression. Young, who has had experience performing choreographed routines and even improvising to set music, spoke of the unique experience of improvising alongside other musicians. “I’m mostly focused on listening and creating,” she said. “It’s a much more organic experience.” Similarly, Detrick cited much of his background in jazz and composition as playing a large role in the program, but he made it clear that this was a bit of a departure for him as well – “It’s more of an extension of all the things that I do,” he said.
“On Being Alive” will take place at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel on Saturday, Oct 1 at 7:30 p.m.