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The Scarlet & Black

Go deep into McIntyre’s mind

This weekend’s concerts promise a wide range of musical genres crammed into just two shows. Before Sébastien Tellier presents his library of songs, Eric J. McIntyre, Music, will present “Music from the Mind of Eric J. McIntyre” at 7:30 p.m. in Sebring-Lewis Hall, featuring four of his compositions performed by various students and faculty.

“In six years of being here at Grinnell, I have not done any composition recitals,” McIntyre said. “Since that’s . . . my primary area of scholarly work, it’s dawned on me that probably it would be a good idea.”

The concert features four starkly different compositions composed by McIntyre throughout his career. The first, “Ball Sax on Bourbon,” features two horns and a baritone and shows off McIntyre’s talents in jazz composition. “Some Very Specific Views,” the second piece, is a digital tape composition. “[The song is] completely edited from human voices I recorded coming into the studio,” McIntyre said, which he assembled into a sonata piece.

These two pieces set up “Lament,” the cornerstone of the performance, which is based on McIntyre’s understanding of the word to be “a scream of grief.”

“It’s not a particularly beautiful piece of music,” McIntyre said. “It uses some non-traditional notation, boxed gestures that people will play in random orders, and flexible timings.”

Playing “Lament,” musicians will have to decide on their own exactly what to play. “We’re not actually reading off a normal score,” said flautist Emma Jerndal ’09. “It’s just a line of notes and . . . each player can just decide which line they play in this window of time . . . it’s never the same twice.”

“I really was driven to program ‘Lament’ was because it’s rare to get a critical mass of students who not only have the musical facility to and the flexibility to play a piece like this that’s not traditionally notated, but also have the virtuosity,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre intends the final piece, the Shakespeare-inspired “. . .full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing,” to remain somewhat of a mystery. “It’s for piano, infinite hands, and a Shakespearean actor,” McIntyre said, revealing little else.

A number of student performers took McIntyre’s Weird Music tutorial three years ago, and McIntyre’s compositions are often drawn from class material.

“My guitar part is inspired by Jandek, who we studied in tutorial,” said Ryan Kartheiser ’09. “So my experience is coming full circle.”

“Music from the Mind of Eric J. McIntyre” promises to be varied, engaging, and at times surprising, all of it displaying the diverse talents of Grinnellians. The first piece is traditional, the second anything but, the third unpredictable, and even McIntyre doesn’t quite know how the final one will unfold.

But the pieces might be coming together just in time. “Yesterday, we were in rehearsal and I think we were finally doing what Eric wanted,” Jerndal said. “I noticed he was conducting and he started to cringe . . . usually this is a bad thing but I think that was what he wanted.”

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