Home Arts Tribute concert to Raymond Scott a hit

Tribute concert to Raymond Scott a hit

by Archives March 18, 2008

Hundreds of students and fans filled the Oscar Peterson concert hall on March 12 to celebrate the career and compositions of Raymond Scott, the man who would have been an engineer had he not loved music first.
Scott, who is more widely credited for having composed the music used in Warners Brothers cartoons, is less well known as the picky scientist who meddled electronics with music in the late 1940s before electro was cool. He also built the first electronic music synthesizer.
The show begins with a familiar Warner Bros. melody. You find yourself guessing whose antics they underscored – Daffy, or Bugs maybe. Before the lights change, a re-enactment of a vintage commercial for Vicks’ Medicated drops is performed. The musicians’ enthusiasm, complimented by the electro-acoustic performers’ personality, reveals Scott’s inventions and how charismatic a composer he was.
Organizer Adam O’Callaghan, a fourth-year jazz student, pulled together the production.
He said he hopes to re-create the two-day show at some point, which was preceded by a lecture featuring historians, colleagues, and musicians examining Scott’s career and impact.
Post-show, they still have the vintage costumes for the 70 performers, donated largely by the used clothing store, Renaissance, and “it’s all set up, ready to go,” said O’Callaghan. He said the music department was “delighted” with the project that couldn’t have been realized without extensive collaboration by all departments.
The show recounted a stimulating history of Scott’s impact on the 21st century by splitting the stage in two – one for the dance orchestra and quintet of performers, and one for the electro-acoustic performers. The dance orchestra wore typical 1930s attire while the electro-acoustic performers wore white lab jackets, safety goggles, and walked around as if the machines around them were participants in a lab experiment.
Informative pictures, quotes and testimonies of Scott’s clavivox, circle machine, electronium, and wall of sound ‘sequencer’ served as interludes to simulated performances of Scott’s dreamy electronic compositions.
The most inspiring part of the show came during the performance of “Sleepytime,” when a mother emerged from backstage holding a baby. Sitting in front of a keyboard, the child began pushing the keys to add to the composition.
The dichotomy in Scott’s career between his interests in jazz/acoustic compositions and electronic sound was expressed when his infamous “Twilight In Turkey” was performed by the dance orchestra section and then immediately after performed by the electronic scientist/performers Waddell and Albu.
Hilarious representations of penguins by dancers engaged the audience and turned the hall into a quasi real-life cartoon. Peter Purich on the violin and Louis Salvador on the piano performed a beautiful rendition of Scott’s “Suite for Violin and Piano”. Scott’s “Soothing Sounds for Baby,” electronic releases were performed for the first time. The elemental and inspired arrangement of tones had a pacifying affect on the audience and proved that the pieces were not just for babies.

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