Emersion Music ‘Renewal: Harmonizing Our Tomorrow’ – Final Performance April 25

Emer Kinsella has created a work of art that not only speaks to the moment, it sings to it, dances with it, and reverberates outward. The premier performance of ‘Renewal: Harmonizing Our Tomorrow’ at the Culver Steps offered compelling art, and tonight’s final performance should not be missed. 

The six composers who collaborated with Kinsella under the umbrella of Emersion Music were all vital co-creators; Hannah Parrott, Yuichiro Oku, Carla Patullo, Denise Santos and Matthew Wang each composed a portion of a ‘chapter’, with the music being presented as if it were a book. 

The six chapters of the music – Stepping into Uncertainty, Inward Voyage, The Upheaval, Emerging from the Shadows, Glimpse of the New Horizons, and finally, Metamorphosis, offered a tonal narrative and musical expression that opened towards storytelling.

The dancers, Malik ‘Gumby’ Bannister, Allie Costello, Darrel ‘Friidom’ Dunn, and Alyse Rockett were listed in the literature as Movement Artists, and directed by Dunn. Adding the visual element of dance in the confined space of the seating at the Steps brought the performance both closer to the audience then much farther out, using the whole plaza. In a flow from mechanized robotic stiffness to an almost liquid fluidity, the dancers graphically passed energy back and forth, balancing each other’s weight, turning fleeing into pursuit and then reversing again. 

Kinsella used spoken word in each chapter (with the exceptions of Chapter 1 and Chapter 3) bringing in the art of poetry as another layer of expression with the music and the dance. 

Particularly noteworthy was Kinsella’s section of “Perchance” at the conclusion of Chapter 3, which reflected the chaotic rhythms and intensity of Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring,’ calling in the history of revolutionary composition. Chapter 5’s opening piece “Suite Life” by Denise Santos held a percussive intensity with the string instruments that felt kinetic. 

The ‘chamber’ musicians, Mehmet Aydin on Viola, Mark Bassett on Cello, Hakeem Holloway on Bass, Enosh Kefler and Boryana Popova on violins all supported Kinsella seamlessly, bringing together a unit of music that sounded as if it had one source. With Kinsella on her own violin and speaking during the performance as well, it often seemed as if she were conducting the ensemble with her eyes, a glance from one musician to another. 

Through the performance, as the sun set and the plaza darkened, the flowering myrtle tree that stands at the center of the Steps held onto a few pink blossoms, despite the cold breeze. An organic portrait of renewal, weathering the challenges, a member of the audience dancing in harmony. 

Renewal: Harmonizing Our Tomorrow

Culver Steps, April 25, 2024 

7:30 pm 

For tickets, go to emersionmusic.com

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang