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Hudson, NY: On October 12 at 7pm, Hudson Hall presents composer, drummer and Guggenheim Fellow Bobby Previte and his all-star Rhapsody Band performing his newest work, RHAPSODY (Terminals Part II: In Transit), for acoustic sextet — the second in a three-part series exploring the experience of travel. Previte’s Rhapsody Band includes legendary keyboardist John Medeski, Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, harpist Zeena Parkins, Fabian Rucker on alto saxophone, and the vocal and erhu fiddle talents of Jen Shyu. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door and can be purchased at hudsonhall.org or by phone at (518) 822-1438.
“What is the experience of being in transit? Separated from your home but not yet at your destination, you are neither here nor there, confined with strangers in an intimate environment for a predetermined amount of time. Uncomfortable, yet somehow free. To travel is to be bound with these strangers by faith—faith in the vessel which carries you, faith in the people who operate it, and ultimately, faith in the strangers waiting at your destination.” – Bobby Previte
In 2015, Previte was awarded the Greenfield Prize for Music, giving him the opportunity to compose RHAPSODY while in residence at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Sarasota, Florida. As Previte developed the piece, his exploration of travel and transitional spaces shifted into thinking about the experience of immigrants. “I began thinking about my own family of immigrants—my mother was born in Sicily because my grandmother, pregnant with my mother, was denied entry into the United States and sent back—and how there are people today, trying to escape far worse situations, being denied asylum,” he says.
The first work in this three-part series,Terminals Part I: DEPARTURES, premiered at Merkin Hall in New York City in 2011, and the recording was released on Cantaloupe Music in 2014. Terminals Part I: DEPARTURES was a set of five concertos written for the visionary group SO Percussion and five master-improviser soloists. In the new work, RHAPSODY, the soloists from DEPARTURES, each of whom had been selected to be the focus of a fifteen-minute concerto, were treated as “found objects” and brought together into one ensemble. Thrown together and forced to forge new relationships in this “instrumentation of chance,” Previte’s Rhapsody Band “mirrors the experience of movement, of migration, of who you may find yourself next to, of venturing into the unknown because you cannot stay where you are,” he says.
RHAPSODY is Previte’s most ambitious work to date in that it marks his debut as a lyricist. “The lyrics are really at the center of this piece,” says Previte. “Having composed only instrumental music my entire life, writing words was quite terrifying. You can hide behind abstract sounds, but with words, there is no equivocating. Words have definite meanings. You cannot walk back from them. You have to own them, fully.”
And while three of the musicians in the ensemble have had a wealth of experience in electric settings—Nels Cline with Wilco, The Ring Nebula Project, The Nels Cline 4, and his longstanding Nels Cline Singers; John Medeski with Hudson, MadSkillet and the longstanding trio Medeski, Martin & Wood; Zeena Parkins with Gangster Band, Phantom Orchard, and Zeena and the Adorables—Previte chose to focus strictly on the acoustic side of their playing. Of Jen Shyu, Previte says: “Jen lifted the vocals, and so the entire ship, up to a higher plane. She is mesmerizing. I couldn’t even have begun a lyric piece without Jen.” With RHAPSODY, Fabian Rucker joins the Rhapsody Band. Previte notes: “Fabian is my favorite young sax player and all around sound guru. He took the music and brought it into the street.”
RHAPSODY was released on RareNoiseRecords in February 2018, and comes on the heels of Previte’s November 2016 RareNoise release, MASS, a nine-part gothic mashup scored for choir, pipe organ and heavy-metal trio.