By SPENCER ABROHMS
For The News-Letter
On Monday, as students made their way to classes, they may have noticed a large yellow U-Haul truck had taken over the Freshman Quad. This U-Haul quickly transformed itself into a stage, complete with all the instruments and materials required to perform a full-blown concert. The Yellow Barn Music Haul used this makeshift stage to perform their program titled “A Memory Palace.”
Yellow Barn is an international center for chamber music in Putney, Vt., and the Yellow Barn Music Haul is the center’s first travelling group. The troupe is made up of the Peabody Institute alumnus and percussionist Ian Rosenbaum, accordionist Merima Ključo and a duo called Rabbit Rabbit, which is comprised of Peabody alumni Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi.
Other current Peabody percussion students including Matthew Overbay, Christopher Salvito, Arlo Shultis, and Matthew Stiens also performed.
The Yellow Barn Music Haul embarked on its inaugural tour of Vermont, Maryland and Texas on Oct. 16 and will finish on Oct. 22.
“A Memory Palace” is a program that looks at how and when we remember things. It also address whether or not we search through our memories to create our own truths about how we define ourselves. It was an engaging, immersive performance that brought the feeling of a chamber hall to the center of campus.
The accordionist Merima Ključo played many songs throughout the afternoon including “Vračenica,” which is based on the Macedonian dance called Račenia and “Couperin Visiting the Balkans,” which is based on François Couperin’s “Les Rozeaux.” One of the highlights was her performance of “Mujo Kuje,” which portrays the suffering of a man who can not sleep due to his agonizing desire to be with his love.
Additionally, Ključo performed “Mehmeda majka budila,” which tells the story of a mother waking her son who had a terrifying dream that his sister blindfolded him, his father bound him and his mother amputated his heart. Overall, The Bosnian-born, Los Angeles-based accordionist played a mesmerizing set that captivated the audience.
Other performances included Rabbit Rabbit’s performance of “Hush, Hush” and the Peabody percussionists’ performance of “Drumming.”
“Hush, Hush” is a song about the wisdom of old houses. Carla Khilstedt played violin and sang while Mathias Bossi played keyboard.
It is a haunting song and was gorgeously performed by all. Drumming is Steve Reich’s minimalist piece that uses a technique called phasing in which all players begin playing the same pattern in unison and then slowly deviate in tempo until they are playing clearly out of sync. While the non-traditional piece seemed simple at first, as it continued, the subtle changes transformed it into fascinating musical experience.
Another unconventional performance was that of Mark Applebaum’s “Aphasia.” The performance involved the performer sitting in a chair with a blank face and using hand gestures synchronized to a nine-minute recording that contains hundreds of different sounds. The song is meant to be a metaphor for being unable to express oneself. It was truly a unique moment in the concert. Sarah Hoover, Peabody’s special assistant to the Dean for Innovation, Interdisciplinary Partnerships and Community Initiatives, was heavily involved in bringing the Yellow Barn Music Haul to Baltimore in the first place. In creating this collaborative performance, Hoover sought to help Peabody musicians become more visible on the Hopkins campus and Baltimore as a whole.
“When I first arrived at Peabody this past July, I spoke with Dean Bronstein of the Peabody Institute about our shared desire for Peabody musicians to be more visible in the city.
“I think we might want to think about a truck as a vehicle (pun intended… ) for bringing classical music performances outside of our concert halls,” she wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
Fortunately she discovered that her coworker Seth Knopp, a director for Yellow Barn, was developing a traveling concert stage. Hoover and Knopp began collaborating to bring the concert to Baltimore.
As well as hoping that a collaboration with Yellow Barn Music Haul would be a valuable experience for Peabody students,
Hoover believed that it would help broaden students’ perceptions of what it means to be a performer.
“We were able to secure funding for the concerts from Paula Boggs, a member of Peabody’s National Advisory Council, with the thought that we would be bringing something of interest and value to our city but also using the experience of the truck performances as a kind of ‘lab’ for our students — to get them to think outside the concert hall ‘box’ and to see how other performing groups program for diverse audiences and nontraditional venues.
“We know that the development of creative thinking in these ways is essential to our students’ future success as performers, and we thought that Yellow Barn’s visit would be a good opportunity to see an innovative idea in action,” she wrote.
Yellow Barn ultimately offered an engaging performance that allowed both those who stopped in passing and those who stayed for the duration of the concert to experience the unique magic of watching a seemingly-spontaneous concert appear from an ordinary U-Haul truck.