Multimedia composer Samson Young presents music from the 1933 Chicago’s World Fair | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Multimedia composer Samson Young presents music from the 1933 Chicago’s World Fair 

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click to enlarge Samson Young, Muted Situation, 2014

Samson Young, Muted Situation, 2014

Courtesy the Artist

The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, titled A Century of Progress International Exposition, was touted as a celebration of modern innovation, and its grand aspirations were not without merit. Even though it took place during the depths of the Great Depression, it was so successful that its run was extended into 1934. With these events serving as inspiration, Chicago Symphony Center will host “Samson Young: World Fair Music,” which will feature a conversation between Hong Kong-based artist and composer Samson Young and Orianna Cacchione, curator of global contemporary art for the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, punctuated by performances of music composed for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Describing Young as a “multidisciplinary artist” hardly does justice to the variety of mediums he incorporates into his projects. Trained in music composition at the University of Sydney, the University of Hong Kong, and Princeton University, Young is unbound by formal conventions, and he often blends visual and audio elements in inventive combinations. As a visual artist, he’s made a series of “sound drawings” that visually represent musical bars, noises (“boom”), and effects (“tremolo”) without any accompanying audio. Likewise, visuals are often essential to his compositions and performances; in his 2014 presentation of Muted Situation: #1 Muted String Quartet, the ensemble “plays” two violins, a viola, and a cello without touching their bows to their strings, creating only the muffled notes produced by the action of their fingers on the instruments’ necks. For this performance Young will be joined by an ensemble of musicians including saxophonists Mai Sugimoto and Artie Black, violinist Whitney Johnson, and banjoist Chris Kimmons, among others, and though he hasn’t revealed the full details of the program, the CSO ticket site teases “a few surprises,” so the audience should come prepared to engage their ears and eyes in an experience beyond the norms of symphony performance. This concert coincides with the opening of Young’s first U.S. museum exhibition, “Samson Young: Silver Moon or Golden Star, Which Will You Buy of Me?,” which runs through December 29 at the Smart Museum.   v

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