BRATTLEBORO - Vermont Performance Lab presents the innovative percussion quartet Sō Percussion this September with choreographer Emily Johnson and Director Ain Gordon to embark on the last phase of their multi-part residency to support the development and presentation of A Gun Show.
A Gun Show is a multidimensional meditation on guns in America. "We originally set to work on it as a way to process our emotions after the unfathomable school shootings in Newtown, Conn." writes Sō Percussion. Known for redefining the scope of the modern percussion ensemble, Sō Percussion's research process for A Gun Show was unique and included a series of VPL residencies starting in the Fall of 2015 dedicated to hunting and interviews with local hunters, sportsmen, and law enforcement officers. VPL is hosting two preview performances at the New England Youth Theater on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24 at 7 p.m. before the New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival and a tour through New England.
"This timely and powerful work will take audiences on a journey into the ways in which Americans perceive guns and have important conversations in our own community." said VPL Director Sara Coffey.
To help foster such civic dialogue VPL has teamed up with the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) to host a panel discussion, Artists Taking Stock of Guns, on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. with Sō Percussion and artists Linda Bond and Susan Graham, whose work is featured in the BMAC exhibit Up in Arms: Taking Stock of Guns. Admission is $5 for adults and is free for BMAC members, students, and youth 18 and under. For more information, visit: brattleboromuseum.org. The exhibit is on view through Oct. 23 and will continue to explore issues surrounding guns with a second panel "Guns in Our Community" on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p,m which will bring together a gun control advocate, a survivor of gun violence, a hunter safety expert, and a law enforcement officer to discuss the state of gun ownership and use in the greater Brattleboro area.
"We hope these presentations will broaden our community's understanding of this challenging social issue and encourage constructive dialogue among those with divergent viewpoints," says BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld.
Dedicated to the limitless possibilities of creative music-making, Sō Percussion formed at the Yale School of Music in 1999, and since then has cultivated a unique repertoire that focuses on contemporary American music – beginning with John Cage and exploring the rich diversity of today's musical culture. They have collaborated closely with many composers including Steve Reich, David Lang, Paul Lansky, Steve Mackey, Fred Frith, Dan Trueman, and Martin Bresnick.
Since 2008, VPL has been forging a symbiotic relationship with Sō Percussion: the ensemble's inaugural residency with VPL culminated in Music for Trains, an on-the-track performance at and between the train depots of Brattleboro and Bellows Falls. In 2012, the quartet returned to VPL with guitarist Grey McMurray and director Ain Gordon where they involved three local master artists in the research, development and recording of where (we) live.
For 10 years, VPL has supported a diverse range of over 400 artists working in dance, theater, and music. Through research, development and production residencies at VPL, artists create performance work that tours nationally and internationally. The A Gun Show artists Sō Percussion, Ain Gordon, and Emily Johnson have all worked in VPL's Lab, and received multi-year commitments and support from VPL for several award-winning performance projects.
On Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m., VPL will present two preview performances of A Gun Show at the New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat St., Brattleboro. Tickets are $10 to $15 and reserving tickets in advance is highly recommended as the performances are expected to sell out. Tickets can be purchased at vermontperformancelab.org/events.