DECEMBER 22, 2018
by CJ Ru
What better antidote to December doldrums or holiday hustle than to let one’s spirit run amok with AMOC — the American Modern Opera Company — through an afternoon of ambitiously eclectic adventures? Last weekend the interdisciplinary collective helmed by artistic directors Matthew Aucoin and Zack Winokur presented a quartet of hour-long programs with modern dance, theatric lighting, and music ranging from Bach to present day, alternating between two Harvard venues — the Agassiz House’s neoclassical Horner Room and the Loeb Ex black box, each configured to accommodate an intimate audience of 30-60.
Bach Sonatas and Preludes
Although the Run AMOC! Festival commenced with a sold-out performance of With Care the previous night, Saturday afternoon began with Bach flute sonatas and keyboard preludes repurposed for chamber ensemble. Emi Ferguson led on Baroque flute, imbuing the instrument that often wispily embodies both “wood” and “wind” more thoroughly than any other with a Romantic, even operatic, emotiveness. Every bit as expressive, the five-piece “Baroque band” Ruckus, with special guest Stephen Stubbs on guitar, brought continuo playing to not simply a new level, but a revelatory new dimension of dynamism altogether. If you enjoyed the purr of professional engines rounding a familiar track before, buckle in as Ruckus revs up and spirits you off to the Formula One races.
BWV 884 became a zesty Bruegelian village dance. BWV 1034 unfurled with the pathos of a doomed bel canto heroine’s midnight soliloquy, then spiced up to fandango flair. BWV 855 wafted as mist over delicately frost-brocaded water until thawed by the jazzy throb of double bass. BWV 1035 breathed of wisteria and lilac on a warm breeze before returning to Bruegel with banjo in tow for an eruption of pure, pulsing hoedown joy.
Wit, panache, and the jubilant, virtuosic verve of a bebop-Baroque jam session electrified and illuminated previously candle-lit edifices as Ruckus and friends raised the roof, and my mind’s eye will never see those structures in quite the same light again.