Written by Rosalind Fournier
Bach. Beethoven. Haydn. Gershwin. Tchaikovsky. They’re the masters whose timeless works are what many in the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s fiercely loyal audience come to hear—from the EBSCO Masterworks and Classical Masters Series to the more contemporary performances of Red Diamond SuperPOPS!, which are not classical per se but still contain a welcome air of familiarity.
But for nine days in February, under the leadership of ASO music director Carlos Izcaray, the ASO’s groundbreaking Sound Edge Festival will break down all the walls by performing the unexpected—starting February 10 with an opening-night ASO collaboration with former Chicago Symphony Orchestra percussionist Ted Atkatz and his new rock band, NYCO (held at Iron City on Southside) to a spectacular closing performance February 19 of “The Four Season’s Recomposed,” a modern update on the Vivaldi original, and a celebratory after party at WorkPlay. In between is a full slate of other events designed to provoke and inspire through artistic exploration. These include an intimate Valentine’s Day performance at WorkPlay featuring seven members of the ASO performing with composer and singer Susan Botti doing what Izcaray describes as a “monologue-opera”; a showing of the art film “Koyaanisqatsi,” famous in part for its soundtrack by composer Philip Glass; and Waves of Woodlawn, a street party in this historic neighborhood designed to engage all the senses, from light illusions to intimate concerts throughout the local shops, cafes and recording studios.
Izcaray—who will also have a rare opportunity on the 12th to play his electric cello during “Artikulation: Graphic Scores of the Avant-Garde” at Saturn—describes Sound Edge Festival as a challenging artistic adventure for the orchestra, the audience and the artistic partners they’ve brought in as collaborators. “Sound Edge Festival is a great platform to show the modern profile of a 21st century orchestra that Birmingham is very fortunate to have, and of which I’m honored to be music director,” he says, adding that on top of being an internationally recognized ensemble for playing iconic works by iconic composers, the ASO has also been recognized for its progressive performances in the past. In fact, the ASO won ASCAP awards in 2010 and 2011 for Adventurous Programming and Dedication to New American Music.
As for Sound Edge Festival, along with presenting music that defies genres, performing in unexpected venues is another way of breaking the mold—so why not in the neighborhoods and cultural districts that have staged their own transformations over the past few years? “I thought Sound Edge Festival was the perfect opportunity for the orchestra to join in what’s going on around town—including the neighborhoods and venues we’re using, from WorkPlay, which has been around a little bit longer, to Iron City and the breweries…places where things are more exciting from one day to the next,” Izcaray says. “We definitely want to join the party. And with this festival, we’re throwing the party ourselves.
“It’s an all-encompassing, embracing sound blanket over the city during that span of nine days so people can go on their own personal journey through the great ride that is music.”
Get on the sound edge
ASO Amplified: NYCO @ Iron City
7:30 p.m. Concert at Iron City with Carlos Izcaray, Conductor / NYCO. After party at Iron City
Excursions in Recorded Sounds
7 p.m. Event at Seasick Records
After party at Seasick Records
Artikulation: Graphic Scores of the Avant-Garde
6 p.m. Ambient/noise and visual scores at Saturn with Carlos Izcaray, cello. After party at Saturn
“Life out of Balance”: Koyaanisqatsi
6 p.m. Discussion with Carlos Izcaray at the Birmingham Museum of Art
7 p.m. Film in the Birmingham Museum of Art auditorium
Contemporary Visions: Inspired by Shakespeare
7:30 p.m. Concert at WorkPlay
After party at WorkPlay
8 p.m. Concert at Syndicate Lounge
After party at Syndicate Lounge
ASO Presents EchoTempo
7:30 p.m. Concert at the Alys Stephens Center.
After party at Avondale Brewing Co.
Waves of Woodlawn
7:30 p.m. Woodlawn Street Party with open shops
The Four Seasons Recomposed
7:30 p.m. Concert at the Alys Stephens Center
After party at WorkPlay