Concert Review: The Knights Display Deeply Committed Musicmaking Skills

An artisan gives finishing touches to an effigy of demon king Ravana in preparation for the upcoming Hindu festival of Dussehra in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh October 8, 2013. The effigies are burnt during the festival which commemorates the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, marking the victory of good over evil. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

But my friends are pretty honest. Theyll tell me, Oh, you got a bunch of pictures of the ceiling. When his subjects dont elude the frame entirely, theyre often truncated, decapitated or abstracted into blurry smears of pixels. The least successful images become the most successful. Which is beautiful. And hilarious. Its a totally funny idea, Zaghal, 31, says. And now people are taking it more seriously. And thats great. Maybe there is a point to this! Point or no point, Zaghal is dedicated to pursuing this project some thing he refers to as both a joke and an experiment. He attends roughly 20 concerts a month, always arriving in time to snag a spot up front. Once the band gets started, he hoists his iPhone to his ear and listens. Screen-reading software tells him when hes selected the camera function. Then, he points and shoots. If theres nobody to chat with between sets, hell caption the images and post them to Instagram straight from the gig. That isnt the case at last Tuesdays Rocketship show. Between bands, Zaghal is hanging out in the front yard, chatting with the singer of Neonates, a band he photographed in August, and the guitarist of Fell Types, whom hes about to snap in a few minutes.

Kronos Quartet concert will be homecoming for John Sherba

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It is a joy to see such deeply committed musicmaking. The Knights have no conductor; only the bassoonist and cellists play seated; every player is viscerally caught up in the shape of every phrase. That they suggest a rock band is not accidental, but the precision of balance and ensemble bespeaks the highest level of musicianship and preparation. Looking for things to do? Select one or more criteria to search Kid-friendly Get ideas It is unfortunate that the string soloists play with a thin, quasi-baroque sound (unlike their woodwind colleagues); this affect marred the Bach concerto for oboe and violin and the Haydn Le Soir symphony. Given the energy and spirit everywhere else, this counts as just a quibble, but it is odd that so many excellent, conservatory-trained artists prioritize beauty of sound lower today than they used to. The concert concluded with two unclassifiable works: a Concerto for Santur and Violin by Colin Jacobsen and Siamak Aghaei (a santur is an Iranian hammer dulcimer) and . . . the ground beneath our feet, apparently a group composition by the entire ensemble. The concerto hung together a little better (having fewer cooks than the second piece), though it was still a mish-mash of Middle East and West, including places where the concerto seemed like a Disney movie soundtrack and ending with a kind of Iranian tarantella.

An artisan gives finishing touches to an effigy of demon king Ravana in preparation for the upcoming Hindu festival of Dussehra in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh October 8, 2013. The effigies are burnt during the festival which commemorates the triumph of Lord Rama over Ravana, marking the victory of good over evil. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Violinist John Sherba, who grew up in Whitefish Bay and Shorewood, is delighted by the prospect of playing for an audience that contains family and friends. “The group let me pick this program , because my father (Charles Sherba) is going to be there. The Icelandic piece on the first half is dedicated to him,” John Sherba said during a telephone interview. Sherba has been a member of Kronos, which is decidedly not your run-of-the-mill string quartet, since 1978. Specializing in new music, the group performs around the world, doing about 90 concerts per year. But Kronos is more than just a new-music band. Over the course of its 40-year history, the group has commissioned more than 800 pieces of music. Rather than just writing a check and waiting for a score to arrive, the group often works with composers, exploring the sonic and expressive possibilities of their instruments. The program Kronos will offer at the Wilson Center will be typically global, featuring pieces with roots and inspirations in Iceland, Eastern Europe, Lebanon, India and elsewhere, and will be presented with the group’s trademark blend of lights and electronic effects and amplification. Explaining that the group travels with both lighting and sound engineers, Sherba said, “We can use electronics things like amplification and playback to really expand what can be done with the string quartet.” Sherba chuckles these days, describing a personal path to the Kronos Quartet that was something less than a carefully executed plan. He began his musical studies in the Whitefish Bay School District, where violin lessons were part of his regular school days. “Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, we had a fantastic music education in the school systems,” he said. Just before he started high school, Sherba’s family moved to Shorewood, putting Sherba in Shorewood High School, which he also calls a “fabulous musical experience.” He also worked with Leonard Sorkin of the Fine Arts Quartet during his high school years, which he says was just what he needed at that time. After high school, Sherba took some music courses at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but he confesses that he mostly just practiced at UWM, as opposed to taking structured classes.

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