Origin Rang recital – 20 July 2007 recap (with help!)

Keeping in mind my “First Blush” comments, it’s difficult to do justice to last night’s performance by Origin Rang. I’ve had plenty of traffic on the blog looking for information on Origin, so I feel some pressure to write this quickly. At the same time, I am hamstrung by my lack of expertise in classical music.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll give the uneducated review – the discussion of the atmosphere of the event, the crowd reactions, etc. And I’ll leave it to someone with a little more formal music training to talk about the music itself.

Origin arrived about an hour early with his friend Crescent Rang, and we collectively struggled through our language gap (with Origin trying much harder than me!) to figure out the URL for his audio feed. We played around with a couple accompanying sculpture ideas, settling on elros Tuominen’s kinetic rose (the pic is of Origin checking out the rose) and Cheen Pitney’s rarely seen school of fish. Origin then retreated into his warmups while I sounded the call for the show one last time.

MUCH more on the show after the fold…

As an event organizer, you never know what to expect when you invite a performer of a totally new genre to come perform. You put up signs, post event notices, shoot out instant messages – even talk it up to your friends – but you have no idea whether people would come. In the minutes right before the 7:00PM SLT start time, only two people were on site for the show (excluding Crescent, Origin and me). I was genuinely nervous.

Origin started a couple minutes after 7, and the sim filled almost to capacity within 20 minutes. Interestingly, a significant number of the attendees weren’t teleporting in to the main “landing zone” for Oyster Bay; they were TP’ing onto the performance platform directly – meaning that friends were messaging friends and urging them to drop everything and come see the recital. It was that type of night. The Oyster sim (old mainland capable of holding 40 avatars at once) consistently stayed between 35-40 avatars from 7:30-8:30PM, the last hour of Origin’s 90 minute tour de force.

Origin Rang 2Origin, as I mentioned in other posts, lives in Tokyo and streamed live from Japan to Second Life. His English is not the best, but he did his best in introducing the pieces as he played them. (The language gap was not helped by the thunderous applause from the crowd every time he spoke!) But his broken English was symbolic of his intense desire to share his music and skill with the audience as well as the incredible geographic reach of Second Life. The metaverse is a global community, and moments like that recital drive that point home.

Then there was the actual audience reaction. I have two overall impressions of the audience: 1) Second Life has a music culture has clear classical music roots, and 2) This crowd knew a good thing when they heard it.

On the first point, the chat dialogue was persistent (but exceedingly polite, using the “/” symbol before the chat entry to eliminate the typing noise) throughout the recital. Audience members discussed the pieces being played and Origin’s considerable skill in playing them. They pointed out the complexity of the pieces and the unique caliber of the performance. Instant messages were flying, too, as people relayed to me their personal experience in piano and classical music – again, emphasizing the talent we were witnessing (example: “I pay top dollar in New York to hear a performer like this!”).

On the latter point, I can’t comment enough on how effusive the audience was over the 90 minute recital. The nature of SL allows for the crowd to talk amongst themselves while the performer is playing, adding a level of interactivity that you just don’t get in a real life venue for fear of being rude to the performer. Words like “wonderful,” “amazing,” “incredible,” “outstanding” and “beautiful” flowed like water. You could tell from some comments that people were moved by Origin’s performance. They discussed how this type of performance was so new to them in Second Life, yet transformational in how they perceived Second Life itself. Of course, we also had fun with it, as many made references to Origin’s fingers moving so quickly that the keys started smoking (if only we could have an instant particle script for that!).

(Another fun note: Because of the level of complexity and precision of Origin’s performance, I asked the guests to refrain from offering him tips until he finished his selection. The slight audio lag between Japan and Second Life meant that he would finish and offer a comment or two about the preceding piece or the piece to come. Within about 15-20 seconds, his affectation would change altogether as he clearly was being deluged with tips – he would laugh and offer “thank you” after “thank you” after “thank you” until he gave up thanking the audience and launched into his next piece. It became pretty clear that Origin was enjoying the recital as much as the audience!)

So that’s the uneducated view of Origin’s performance. SL performer Tree Kyomoon helped me with the critical evaluation; here’s the beginning of his comments to me immediately following the show.

[20:35] Tree Kyomoon: this was a miracle in SL

Before I delve deep into Tree’s comments, here’s a fun shot of him relaxing as Origin played. Aren’t pose-balls grand?

Anyway, I could tell as the recital ended that I was clearly in over my head in writing this recap. So I scanned the chat log and tried to find someone who could do justice to what we heard. Thankfully, Tree Kyomoon was kind enough to spend a few minutes after the show ended with me. He allowed me to quote him, and there are no edits for spelling or grammar; I pulled sections of our dialogue relevant to his review of the performance (We digressed a couple times…). Here’s what he had to say:

[20:35] Tree Kyomoon: I’ll do the best I can, I am unworthy of such a request
[20:50] Tree Kyomoon: I cant really write a review, but I can tell you he played some rimsky korsakov
[20:50] Tree Kyomoon: shubert, chopin
[20:50] Tree Kyomoon: and the execution was exact and traditional
[20:50] Tree Kyomoon: perfect, more perfect than most interpretations of the music

[20:51] Tree Kyomoon: he is a master of technique and stuff, not so much soul/feel
[20:52] Tree Kyomoon: but the music was exactly as written, to the molecule, moreso than ever
[20:52] Tree Kyomoon: it was, simply amazing
[20:52] Tree Kyomoon: to hear the music note for note as the composer wrote
[20:53] Tree Kyomoon: thats prety much all I can say, the rest is wayyyyy over my head
[20:53] Tree Kyomoon: Im just a lowly guitar player 🙂

Clearly, Tree is a lowly guitar player who appreciates music.

Origin Rang 2[20:55] Tree Kyomoon: id say, the main thing to point out is, he played stuff that most pianists kind of improvise around
[20:55] Tree Kyomoon: so you dont get to hear the actual literal music
[20:55] Morris Vig: OK
[20:55] Tree Kyomoon: this was archival in quality
[20:55] Morris Vig: but with him we did, right?
[20:55] Tree Kyomoon: like we went back in time
[20:56] Tree Kyomoon: yes exactly, he played the music more…perfectly than gould, with no affectation or judgement calls
[20:56] Tree Kyomoon: so we got a real treat to be able to hear the composers music as it was written
[20:56] Tree Kyomoon: that is EXTREMELy rare
[20:56] Morris Vig: we sure did
[20:56] Morris Vig: He said he’s competed
[20:56] Tree Kyomoon: even the SHine guy made some edits
[20:56] Morris Vig: I can see why
[20:57] Tree Kyomoon: but hearing all the double notes high up on the old classic bugs bunny type pieces was a real treat
[20:57] Morris Vig: sure was!
[20:57] Tree Kyomoon: he picks up on all the subtleties most pianists miss

Totally agreed….the peformance was full of subtlety and grace. Here’s a little more of our exchange:

[20:58] Morris Vig: I enjoy debriefing on something like this with someone who appreciates it better than I
[20:58] Morris Vig: I just know “it’s REAL good”
[20:58] Tree Kyomoon: ok well heres a good comparison
[20:59] Tree Kyomoon: glen gould made sure you knew it was glen gould playing
[20:59] Tree Kyomoon: with his style
[20:59] Morris Vig: ok….
[20:59] Tree Kyomoon: but origin does not corrupt the music with any style
[20:59] Tree Kyomoon: he plays it flawlessly as it was written
[20:59] Tree Kyomoon: taking no liberty
[21:00] Tree Kyomoon: so thats what impressed me, to ignore that temptation even at the most subtle level
[21:00] Tree Kyomoon: makes origin an “important” pianist
[21:00] Morris Vig: even when embellishing, he stayed true to style?
[21:00] Tree Kyomoon: there was no embellishment
[21:00] Tree Kyomoon: some people said there was but that wasnt in my opinion
[21:00] Tree Kyomoon: it was right to period
[21:01] Tree Kyomoon: given the historical context
[21:01] Morris Vig: i see. I’ll trust your judgement
[21:01] Tree Kyomoon: but thats just my opnion. im not even a pianist
[21:01] Morris Vig: nor am I
[21:01] Morris Vig: I’m an ex-college DJ
[21:01] Tree Kyomoon: Im just going by my knowledge of the 19th century
[21:01] Morris Vig: OK
[21:02] Tree Kyomoon: so you might want a second opinion , some of the others had ideas
[21:02] Morris Vig: Sure
[21:02] Tree Kyomoon: I think the pieces have been so embellished over the years
[21:02] Tree Kyomoon: we just arent familiar with the original music

And Tree’s summary:

[21:08] Tree Kyomoon: yes, it was all the big hits
[21:08] Tree Kyomoon: taking on that chopin piece, then the schubert
[21:08] Tree Kyomoon: it was a spectacular challenge to pull off live
[21:08] Morris Vig: sure was
[21:08] Tree Kyomoon: and he did it flawlessly
[21:08] Tree Kyomoon: and I dont use that term lightly
[21:09] Morris Vig: I didn’t hear him miss a beat
[21:09] Tree Kyomoon: it was flawless to the molecule
[21:09] Morris Vig: (or, I presume a key)
[21:09] Tree Kyomoon: to the atom
[21:09] Morris Vig: 🙂
[21:09] Tree Kyomoon: key is too vague, all the subtlety in pressre, context, tone, speed
[21:09] Tree Kyomoon: timing
[21:09] Tree Kyomoon: flawlese
[21:09] Tree Kyomoon: flawless
[21:09] Morris Vig: yup
[21:10] Morris Vig: It’s so good to hear this
[21:10] Morris Vig: as I am a rank amateur
[21:10] Morris Vig: but I was moved
[21:10] Tree Kyomoon: well Im a n amateur too, but I certainly know a good musican
[21:10] Morris Vig: So to know that he evokes the same from someone who better understands music…
[21:10] Tree Kyomoon: when I hear one…being a recording engineer for years helps
[21:11] Morris Vig: Ah….
[21:11] Morris Vig: I bet
[21:11] Morris Vig: trained to look for flaws
[21:11] Tree Kyomoon: you tend to notice very small things
[21:11] Tree Kyomoon: yes

By the time Origin concluded at 8:30PM SLT with an inspired Gershwin “Rhapsody in Blue,” the audience was unanimous calling for him to return – and return SOON! The evening clearly was a success, and Origin has already accepted my invitation to return. When it is scheduled, it will be announced through the normal SL group channels as well as here at Second Arts.

Thank you, Origin, for delighting the SL audience last night! And thanks to everyone who participated in this fantastic moment in SL history!

[In addition, special thanks to Isolde Flamand and Michelle Bablii for their assistance in providing photography for this blog entry. Michelle took a few more photos which will follow in a separate blog entry.]

[1:21PM SLT UPDATE: Sunn Thunders offered his own (very positive) assessment of Origin’s recital at the Virtual Artists  Alliance blog.]

2 Responses

  1. I’m sorry I missed it, but it really was -way- outside my timezone. I’ve been to SL concerts before on 4 am (my time), but it’s not recommended and not something to do often.
    I do hope next concert will be a little more ‘Europe-friendly’, as long as Origin or you aren’t up at 4 am then. That’s the only real problem of the metaverse 😛

  2. OMG from the classical musical perspective..it was like he took every composor’s most difficult and challenging piece and put them all back to back. His fingers were flying as any one of those pieces in concert would have served as the grand finale. However Origin tintilated and shocked all in attendance by his unbelievable skill and endurance as not only did he play each piece to perfection as it was written, but threw in additional ivory tickling to personalize in spots considered nearly impossible to do. I know this poor piano player just closed the lid to her meager attempts. I WANT a recording of that performance… Morris? Is there any chance of that? Never have I heard anyone even attempt to play such a tight collection of the most extraordinary pieces…sob…I was in tears and shocked to my very core. Man what a NIGHT! Two days later and I am still shaking when I think of it.

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