Film and music overlap in Crossing Barriers performance

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Crossing Barriers Group performs using dance, voice, music and multi-media forms. Performances will feature faculty members Patrick Neher on the double bass and Norman Weinberg on percussion.

A collaborative effort between the media arts department's Hanson Film Institute and the UA's multimedia music group, the Crossing Barriers Group, will bring together film and music in a single performance Saturday.

The Crossing Barriers Group is a musical ensemble that attempts to perform with other mediums. In the past, the group has used dance, theater and electronics.

""It was started two years ago as something that would really look at all of the arts,"" said Patrick Neher, music professor and double bassist for the group.

The group is made up of faculty members from the School of Music as well as Tucson musicians, including Neher, percussionist professor Norman Weinberg, soprano vocalist Betty Allen and saxophonist Mike Kuhn. Three guest musicians from Chicago will also preform Saturday.

Two short films by media arts professors and other filmmakers will be featured as the musicians play.

Media arts associate professor Yuri Makino collaborated with friend Cindy Stillwell, a professor at Montana State University in Bozeman, on ""111 Degrees Longitude.""

Their film uses images to describe the similarities and differences of Bozeman and Tucson, as they both lie at the same longitude. The film is shown with split-screen images of both locations.

""Some of the common traits between the two are trains, open spaces, big skies. The differences would be the climates. They have snow and water, and we have dryness and harsh hot conditions,"" Makino said.

UA media arts professor Nicole Koschmann collaborated in 2003 with composer Peter Capelle to create ""Williamsburg Bridge.""

Capelle's music is featured in the background of the film, but for its first screening, a live orchestra played simultaneously, similar to how the performance will be set up Saturday.

""My film was originally made for this type of thing,"" Koschmann said.

Another film that will be shown alongside the music is ""Jill's Birthday,"" a tri-split-screen film that pianist Seth Boustead will accompany.

Neher hand-picked all of the films and looked for something that could blend with and add imagery to the music.

""I looked for something that had an impact that could be dramatic or abstract. I kinda wanted something that the music could put music to it. It's a silent film accompaniment, essentially,"" Neher said.

The Crossing Barriers Group will improvise much of the music featured in the program. In addition, the visiting guest musicians will perform a piano and violin suite.

For the performers, it is more the flow of the concert that makes mixing media difficult, rather than actually playing the music.

""We rehearse the structure and rehearse how to work together, but not the actual music,"" Neher said. ""Doing the art is something we're all motivated to do, so it's not difficult.""

Improvisation is like a conversation between parties, if you know the party its easier to converse with them,"" Neher added. ""It's also fun with conversing with someone you don't know.""

In the future, Neher said he wants to take the group on tour and integrate the musicians with as many as five other artistic disciplines. In the meantime, he wants to challenge the conventional expectations of an audience in a concert setting.

""We try to mess with people's heads,"" Neher said. ""We try to find ways to think about art differently, and continue to explore that.""

Crossing Barriers performs at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Crowder Hall in the Music building, 1017 N. Olive Road.

Admission is free.


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