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Photo: Ryan Collerd
Bowerbird, a group of musicians in Philadelphia, is streaming late-night concerts that may help you sleep — or at least put you in a relaxed state
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When I wrote about people having trouble falling asleep, here, it was September 2020. It seemed like a more stressful time than January 2021, despite today’s increasing numbers of Covid cases. Readers who had their own reasons for stress in September, weighed in with their techniques for getting to sleep. Today, I offer a new one.

David Patrick Stearns remarks at the Philadelphia Inquirer that musicians work hard to keep audiences awake, but “not in the new Bowerbird concert series Liminal States, seven streamed events slotted at 10 or 11 p.m. that aim to put listeners into a sort-of slumber somewhere between sleeping and waking. The series is co-produced with West Philly’s Rotunda, Bowerbird’s home venue.

“ ‘Everybody is so traumatized and beat up that if a concert involves another state of awareness, that’s a very attractive prospect,’ said pianist Marilyn Nonken, who [opened] with Morton Feldman’s spare, meditative, 90-minute Triadic Memories.

‘It’s not a piece so much as it’s an environment, a sanctuary, where you can go and stay a while. … where your brain waves change.’

“If the other Liminal musicians have anything in common it’s a concept of sound that proceeds without a predictable end in sight.

“The hard-to-categorize indy artists include Jeff Zeigler (Jan. 31), next on the schedule after Nonken, an engineer and producer whose own music falls in the ambient zone. Philadelphia-born Laraaji (Feb. 14), the series’ third performer, is described as often as a mystic as he is a percussionist who creates shimmering, luminous sound environments.

“Laura Baird (Feb. 25) arises more from the folk tradition but crosses over into the electronic zone. Tatsuya Nakatani (March 10) has a gong orchestra, with instruments gently bowed more often than they’re struck. If there’s such a thing as an experimental harpist, it’s Mary Lattimore (March 25), whose ambient collaborations with Zeigler have her harp giving definition to his washes of sound.

“Relatively traditional — at least on the surface — is Variant 6, a Philadelphia-based vocal sextet that ends the series on May 6, and typically sings a range from Monteverdi to newly written vocal works. …

“Bowerbird artistic director Dustin Hurt is encouraging live performances — a particularly atmospheric possibility for Nakatani’s gongs, since the East Coast streaming time will be around dusk in the New Mexico desert where the artist lives. Some artists will be pre-recorded, though nocturnally, in the late-night slot that their streaming will occupy. …

“ ‘This idea has been around, inside my mind, for a long time,’ said Hurt, who has enjoyed liminal states when listening to Feldman while lying on the floor (an option not available at most in-person concerts).

” ‘The music levitates very slowly, so that when you wake up, you wonder “Was I asleep for 10 minutes or an hour?” ‘

“Variant 6 member Elisa Sutherland said working remotely, and given the lag time that can come with conference technology, ‘there’s potential for a powerful, somewhat spooky experience.’

“Liminal States concerts are pay-what-you-wish, with a suggested donation of $25. Information: bowerbird.org.

More at the Inquirer, here.

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Although I have known Julie Weinstein mostly as a graphic designer, I learned from many conversations over the years that she has experience in a variety of fields. Lately she has been concentrating on quilting.

I went to see the delightful pieces below at the Emerson Community Arts Center’s Earth Month exhibit, “Life on the Edge.” Completely charming. The panels were inspired by seeing birdwatchers and wondering if the birds watch the watchers. In one panel a woman is birdwatching with binoculars. In another, a bird lifts binoculars to study the woman.

The Umbrella website says, “This year’s theme, ‘Life on the Edge,’ invites us to consider those experiences and places where people and habitats intersect. Also called ecotones, liminal or transitional zones, these points of intersection can spawn collaboration, conflict, beauty, chaos, change, and more.” The show is up until May 5. More details here.

Interesting to see the word “liminal” used for the intersection of people and habitats. At Asakiyume’s blog, her literary readers use liminal and the word “interstitial” to refer to places between worlds and ways of being. Like the platforms where Harry Potter catches a train that ordinary people can’t see.

Come to think of it, that is not so different from the intersection of the natural world and the developed one the art show describes. It’s a place where you might see three large wild turkeys sashaying down the middle of a downtown street, as my husband and I did on a recent Sunday morning.

Quilts: Julie Weinstein

julie-weinstein-quilts-sightings-at-Umbrella

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