While I'm not completely certain I'm willing to make the claim that one of the first artists I ever saw the art of was M.C. Escher. I feel like we all- in our youth at some point- see a piece by M.C. Escher and just kind of feel like it's magic; it changes our lives. I know other art exists out there, especially when you're younger, but Escher is that first one that really makes you think of it as art and wonder how it's done. So, to experience this performance while having it based around M.C. Escher is just one of my favorite things.
The way in which you would describe what you are about to experience is complicated. It's a video on YouTube, yes, but it's not quite a "music video" in the sense that you wouldn't find it on MTV. It's just over an hour long and so it does feel more like a concert performance in that sense, but then it also isn't quite under the concert vibe either. The only way I can easily describe this- which seems like an easy way out- is to call it performance art. It's not quite a play and it's not quite a concert but it's on a stage and it's something I would be into going to see in person one day.
With the way everything has shut down since the pandemic I definitely feel like this video is important because it reminds us of what great art exists out there that we're missing. Every year, like clockwork, my dad, Quentin, my uncle and I go to a park in New Haven to see Shakespeare. We didn't get to do that last year. It's just those little things you might forget about but they're important still and need to be celebrated. This video does a great job of reminding us all, "Hey, I want to get back to experiencing that in person again one day" and I feel like we are slowly getting there.
The way in which I have the artist listed for this review as Mara Gibson feels like an understatement. Mara Gibson is the composer, but you'll hear the voice of the super-talented Megan Ihnen. You'll hear poetry being read which was written by Hannah Ensor and Rebecca Morgan Frank. You'll hear Kimberly Sparr play the viola and add her voice in at times, Darrel Hale plays the bassoon and Alan Theisen plays the saxophone. This is all, also, directed by Rachel M. Harris.
Megan Ihnen moves across the stage for three different parts of these songs. In the middle, Megan Ihnen is accompanied by Kimberly Sparr who plays the viola and adds in a word or two, maybe just a breath. As she moves to our right she is accompanied by Darrel Hale on the bassoon and on our left Alan Theisen on saxophone. It's interesting that each of these instruments accompany her one at a time rather than together. It is also worth noticing how Megan Ihnen moves not just across the stage but during this performance in general, as it has a lot to do with what is being said and played.
While Megan Ihnen has the voice of an angel which can just be heard in such a huge way, with such operatic feels, there are also times when the words come out spoken. But they aren't always spoken in the way which you would speak to someone else in conversation. The pronunciation and delivery of them can be non-traditional and that really enhances everything else going on around the words. "I probably peaked at twenty two" is one of my favorite lines from the first part of this.
This is a performance in two parts- "Galatea's Dream" and "Escher Keys"- and as such there is an intermission which features a beautiful piano piece. This makes the whole experience feel even more like a show you would go out and see after dinner.
After intermission we come into "Escher Keys" and this is played by a full orchestra- The Three Words Chamber Orchestra. It is certainly interesting to see them all masked up and yet still playing their instruments- especially the flute. There is an urgency to this sound, a suspense like a Hitchcock film. In contrast to the first part of this video, this just does feel like watching a concert of classical music. This is the type of piece which you can watch being played live and feel like you are at a concert but also just put on the audio in your car while driving.