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Bill Arning, on Nico Muhly

Posted by Geoff Edgers  August 27, 2008 11:11 AM

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MIT List Visual Arts Center curator Bill Arning took in the 802 Tour the other night, so I asked him to offer his thoughts:

Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon and Doveman, felt like the first fall event -back to school week for the arts and culture folks in greater Boston. The show was a genre-busting triumph, mixing serious contemporary classical music (Muhly) with folk song (Amidon) and edgy indie rock (Doveman) in ways that I found scintillating. The thing I love most about Boston is how proximity and the great overabundance of educated curious people who can enjoy many disciplines of art come together to create great discussions. I was sitting with a crew that I knew from the visual art world but who are not limited to it, Within three seats of me were Nate McDermott who works at the Mills Gallery at the BCA but is also an amazing musician, Ben Chaffee who works at Barbara Krakow Gallery but is a wonderful artist and John Andress who works at the ICA but is a world class percussionist.

The level of discussion about and perception of the performance I enjoyed with these fellows could have made even an inferior night of music interesting, but that was not the case here. I have been listening to Muhly's "Mothertongue" and Amidon's "All is Well" on repeat play this summer and to hear them collaborate live was very exciting. Amidon's voice on Muhly's "The Only Tune" might have done some damage to my psyche, as his from-the-grave voice declaring of this demented folk-tale of sororicide haunted a few dreams of mine since that night. Muhly is charismatic in the extreme and even managed to wear a cape onstage with aplomb and look handsome in it. Amidon's family was seated near by me-a large clan-and seemed proud of this strange entertainer whose demented videos on his website and youtube would make him worth watching today even without his music. Dan Hirsch, the music programmer at the MFA, is a gift to the cultural life of this city for whom I am very grateful.

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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