Virtuosos and Visions 

Five stars
IVCI Laureate Series; Indianapolis Museum of Art Randall L. and Marianne W. Tobias Theater; Nov. 21

The IMA’s new theater, nicknamed “The Toby,” has a vision of embracing aesthetic risk. It opened Friday night with a packed house, eager to hear the innovative programming common to IVCI concerts. Cho-Liang Lin and Susie Park, violinists; violist Atar Arad; cellist Sophie Shao; and pipa player Min Xiao-Fen have all made prominent names for themselves in the musical world, by winning competitions, soloing with orchestras and working with composers. The first half of the concert showcased the musicians playing solos and duos, but Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera, which actually wasn’t an opera at all, was the jewel of the evening. Calling upon the spirits of nature, the future and past, this piece involved all the musicians, not only playing their own instruments, but also speaking and chanting, using water for aural effect, gongs and even paper. The sounds that were created were fresh and exciting to the ear. This was a dramatic piece that also included theatrical lighting, performers reciting Shakespeare and quoted music from J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C# minor. It proved that new music has a place here in Indianapolis, and that audiences are ready and eager to enjoy contemporary works.

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