Best Of 2021

Best Blend of Interpretative Composition and Historic Spaces: The Response Project

University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumna, Classical pianist and music professor Brianna Matzke created The Response Project in order to commission artists and composers to “respond” to existing artworks or ideas. Since its inception in 2014, the project has produced concerts, short films, art shows and interpretive dances, to name a few. These installments introduced artistic interpretations of themes such as “Something is Happening Here,” a look at Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited; the phrase “On Behalf,” inspired by Killer Mike and Stephen Colbert asking composers to write on behalf of a person, thing or idea; and the controversial composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Mikrophonie 1. Debuting throughout January, the fourth iteration of The Response Project challenged five composers (Evan Williams, Tina Tallon, Nate May, Charles Peck, Jason Charney) and five visual artists (Joomi Chung, Samantha Parker Salazar, Christian Schmit, Samantha Haring, Ryan Strochinsky) to respond to late American composer Pauline Oliveros’ Sonic Meditations. The Oliveros Response Project premiered four short films and an art show that not only enacted deep listening through brand new compositions but also explored the way history and place relate to the experience. Produced by local filmmakers Biz Young, Jason Nix and Andy Gasper, the films debuted the musical responses as performed by Matzke, percussionist Chris Graham and a Classical ensemble concert:nova. But it wasn’t just a concert series. Four beloved and historical Cincinnati buildings were chosen to house the performances featured in the films. Acoustics and historical significance were among factors considered in the selection process, which boiled down to performances taking place in The Imperial Theatre Mohawk, the Kauffman Brewery tunnels, the King Records building and the Emery Theatre.