HARTFORD COURANT: 'Orpheus Unsung' Wraps Up Drum Portrait Series At Real Art Ways

HARTFORD COURANT: 'Orpheus Unsung' Wraps Up Drum Portrait Series At Real Art Ways


"Guitarist Steve Mackey, with the help of percussionist Jason Treuting, has made a spell-binding wordless opera based on the Orpheus story. The two musicians tap, pluck, bash and slash a haunting spectrum of sounds from their instruments. Orpheus was the godlike poet/lyre-player who retrieved his beloved from the underworld by basically shredding for Hades on his instrument, but then — oopsie! — failed in one crucial part of the challenge, with a whole series of consequences that end with Orpheus getting torn to pieces in a Bacchic rage.

It’s a cautionary tale on multiple levels. But the music that Mackey came up with to tell this classic story rolls with the idea of the guitar as a stand-in for the lyre. The music is suitably complex, with squishy effects, ominous thrumming, earth-shaking gongs, loops, harmonics, brittle metal sounds, pinging chimes, dramatic leitmotifs, beautiful laments, and guitar arias. This music is jarring, surprising and deep, with moments of tranquil beauty and plenty of other moments of frenetic fury."