On creating FJORDS

Have you ever noticed how musicians, visual artists, actors, composers, writers, and other artistic personalities tend to get lumped into the same general “arts” genre most of the time? And to a degree, we do have a lot in common. (like a lack of interest in earning a sustainable income! Just kidding! Sort of…) But there is one major division between artists—there are those that perform and those that create. We, as a string quartet, perform. We choose music that has already been written, and our job is to become masterful interpreters of that music. We are the essential link between the creation of the work and the reception of the work. Ideally, our main goal in performance is to allow the audience to forget all about us as musicians and become connected to the composer through his or her music.

It has often bothered me that as performing artists, we have so little freedom to actually createsomething. But what can we do? We’re not trained in composition—believe me, you certainly wouldn’t want to come to a concert of music written by us. But sometimes I long to be a part of the creative process, and not just to be an interpreter of someone else’s masterpiece.

Enter Manual Cinema and the creation of FJORDS. What makes Manual Cinema unique is that for every one of their productions, they get to create and perform. They come up with an idea for a show, then they build that show from scratch, and then they perform it, relishing in the satisfaction that comes from being able to take ALL the credit for their work. This characteristic was what most drew my interest when I first learned about them. In the beginning stages of working together, we felt a little bit like we were twiddling our thumbs, since they were so busy buying projectors, cutting out puppets, and drawing storyboards while we just waited for music to be written for us. Once we got our hands on the music, we did what we always do—we rehearsed it, played it for the composer (Kyle Vegter), rehearsed it some more, recorded it in the studio, rehearsed it some more, until finally it was time to put it together with Manual Cinema in rehearsals last week.

Now, we had high hopes for working with Manual Cinema, but what we didn’t realize until that first rehearsal with them, is that even though we were still performing someone else’s music, we got to have a SAY. (Be still my heart!) We got to be creators, and not just in a small way—we’ve had liberty to change and add on to Kyle’s music, we’ve helped Manual Cinema make theatrical decisions, and we’ve offered our own insights into the creation of what will, if I don’t say so myself, be an absolutely incredible show. Being a creator as well as a performer is undeniably exhilarating, and it’s going to make this weekend’s performances some of the most satisfying, rich, and exciting I have ever taken part in.

Hope to see you Thursday-Sunday at FJORDS, we can’t conceal our excitement at standing side-by-side with Manual Cinema and Kyle Vegter as CO-CREATORS of an utterly stunning theatrical and musical experience!!