Electric Phoenix | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Electric Phoenix 

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Tenor Daryl Runswick is just one of the quartet of singers from eclectic backgrounds who make up Electric Phoenix, a group dedicated to expanding the contemporary vocal repertoire. Runswick has played piano for Cleo Laine, played bass for the London Sinfonietta, produced records, sung in operas, and he composes in his spare time. As the group's theoretician, he's come up with the panoply of vocal, improvisational, and electronic techniques that constitute Electric Phoenix's unique sound. Three of Runswick's recent works--written especially for the ensemble--are slated for the group's Ravinia debut; they show a fondness for poetry and a penchant for quirkiness and irony. Bliss draws parallels between the cliches of love and war; The Unfamiliar Name (set to a George Herbert poem) catalogs the metaphors of redemption; and Archyisms 35-36 involves unconventional touches such as prerecorded voice sampling in various styles. Other works on the program include Kaija Saariaho's Nuits, Adieux, in which the voices are amplified and processed to evoke the mysteries of night; Neely Bruce's Dream of Other Dreamers, a nocturnal-themed homage to Walt Whitman; and John Cage's Solos 93-96, about which the composer has cryptically remarked, "The texts make a literary circus." Wednesday, 8 PM, Bennett Hall, Ravinia Festival, Lake Cook and Green Bay Rds., Highland Park; 728-4642.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve J. Sherman.

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