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Free improvisation will get even with Felix Mendelssohn at The Nunnery

Tourists viewing the glowworms in New Zealand's Waitomo Caves
Tourists viewing the glowworms in New Zealand's Waitomo Caves
courtesy of Joe Lasqo

Last November I wrote about the opening of The Nunnery, the research laboratory space in which Tom Nunn invents the instruments on which he performs, to the public as a venue for two concerts every month, one on a Sunday afternoon and the other on a Monday evening. The next of these events will take place this coming Sunday afternoon and will feature the visit of two of New Zealand’s finest electronic musicians, Simon O’Rorke and Paul Winstanley. The program of free improvisation will be entitled Waitomo Caves Improv’erture.

That title may best be treated as a prankish response to Felix Mendelssohn from a Southern Hemisphere point of view. Most music lovers know the story of Felix Mendelssohn’s frequent visits to Britain between 1829 and 1847. On one of those trips he went north to the Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of Scotland to visit Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa. That visit inspired his Opus 26 overture, entitled “The Hebrides,” which he completed in December of 1830.

Waitomo Caves is an equally inspiring natural wonder in New Zealand, notable not only for its size but because it serves as the habitat for a vast population of glowworms. Waitomo Caves Improv’erture is thus a “double reflection,” complementing the geography of Scotland with that of New Zealand and the formalism of a concert overture with a free improvisation. O’Rourke’s contribution to this improvisatory session will involve both synthesizers and percussion, while Winstanley will provide rhythm support through his electric bass. These visiting musicians will be joined by Nunn, performing on his own invented instruments, and Joe Lasqo, playing synthesizer, laptop, and small percussion.

The entire improvisation session will be in two sets, beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 25. The Nunnery is located at 3016 25th Street, between Florida Street and Alabama Street. As is the case with all public events at The Nunnery, admission will be by donation.