Ensemble 50, Mary Rowell, violin, Eleonor Sandresky, piano, Kevin Norton and Jim Pugliese, percussion, is an artist driven composing and improvising ensemble. We came together to play for the first time as a part of Eleonor’s collaboration series at Spectrum NYC,Rétes, in 2013. Our experience of playing and working together was at once based in trust and of truly “playing in the moment.” Our various career trajectories bring a collective experience that traverses all genres of new music, allowing us to tap into a very wide range of styles and techniques. We have each toured and recorded extensively with ensembles that include Ethel, The Philip Glass Ensemble, Anthony Braxton and John Zorn ensembles. Additionally we have worked with and been inspired by African and Brazilian composers as well as popular music, and we continue to be inspired by each other. Our compositions range from notated, through-composed orchestral works to open instrumental module compositions that rely heavily on improvisation. For more on each of us, please visit these other websites or click the links in this one: jimpugliese.org, kevinnorton.com, myspace.com/maryrowell.
The Wonder Suit is not a suit of clothes, but an invention of mine, engineered by Michael Clemow, made up of a set of wireless sensors that are strapped onto the body and piano bench, and used to trigger various processes on a live mic feed from an acoustic resonating body, usually a piano, into my computer.
The live feed is routed via proprietary software through Osculator to Kyma. But really any sound software that is capable of receiving the message would work. The beauty of the sensors is that anyone can strap them on and have the sensation of altering a live acoustic sound. That visceral, direct connection to how motion translates into emotion through sound is experiential proof that is at once fun and thrilling.
The work that I make with the Wonder Suit incorporates choreographed movement that initiates the electronic processes. I was inspired to create the Wonder Suit because I was already making work that incorporated choreographed movement into my solo piano pieces – see A Sleeper’s Notebook. I am a self-titled choreographic pianist. I have also created several works for choreographed ensembles and several years ago began to add electronics. While practicing for an upcoming performance, I had the thought that it would be interesting if the movements actually had some perceivable impact on the acoustic sound of the piano, my instrument of choice. Since that time, I have worked through two prototypes and we will soon be ready to make the finished product.