June 25, 2017
The Long-Stringed Instrument Comes to nief-norf
The nief-norf Summer Festival was held at the University of Tennesseee in Knoxville, Tennessee from June 12-26, 2017. The festival included the Sixth International Conference on Music and Minimalism from June 21-25, 2017. As part of the Minimalism conference, a duet composed of Ellen Fullman on her long-stringed instrument accompanied by Theresa Wong on cello performed on Saturday evening, June 24. They performed to a standing-room only crowd in the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture at the University of Tennessee.
For the uninitiated the Fullman's long-stringed instrument is capable of generating a unique (instantly recognizable) variety of polyphonic drone. In Fullman's hands, it becomes a musical instrument. To call the music minimalism is somewhat misleading because there is an incredible richness of sonority at any given instant. Furthermore, the music is dynamic, its changes apparent to the ear on the timescale of seconds. This is not a drone in which the subtleties of tone can only be discerned over a span of minutes or tens of minutes.
The presence of Ms. Wong on cello removed any doubt that what transpired yesterday evening was a music of the finest order. (To be perfectly clear, we would have been satisfactorily enraptured by the complexity of the long-stringed instrument on its own, but we found the complementary playing of the duet to enhance the listening experience in a way certainly intended by the two participants in the duet but which we had not, as listener, anticipated.) From the cello, Ms. Wong at times coaxed notes familiar to the instrument and at other times registered sounds in a translated imitation of the long-stringed instrument. In some moments, the plucking of cello induced Ms. Fullman to pluck the long-stringed instrument in counterpoint. The reverberations in that gallery resonated with all present. A lengthy standing ovation followed the performance.
Collaborations including Ellen Fullman and Theresa Wong are documented on Fullman's cd Through Glass Panes released on (Important Records, Imprec336, 2011, United States, cd).