Concert combines traditional and electronic sounds

The spotlight beat down on a solitary figure, her fingers flying fast across the clarinet in an effort to keep up with her computer companion.

Ted Mann Concert Hall played host to the Electroacoustic Concert, part of the School of Music’s Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Art on Saturday.

The show, played to an audience of approximately 100, featured experimental electronic improvisations paired with more-traditional acoustic instrumentation to create unique sound collages.

Clarinetist Esther Lamneck, a professor of music at New York University, performed two pieces with electronic accompaniment.

“(The computer) improvises with you,” she said. “I actually got lost up there for a moment, but the computer was able to bring me back into it.

“It’s like playing with a real person.”

The songs were several minutes long but required months of work to piece together, she said.

Lawrence Fritts, a University of Iowa professor, composed Lamneck’s first piece, “Musicometry I.”

“She improvised in the studio for me,” he said. “Then, I copied and pasted and rearranged the improvisations.”

For her shows, Lamneck plays live onstage while the computer, loaded with her prerecorded sounds, responds to her playing in a jazzlike improvisational session.

Robert Rowe, also a professor at New York University, designed the program Lamneck and flutists Giuseppe Rapisarda and Elizabeth McNutt played with.

Rowe said he is a long-time collaborator with Lamneck.

“We’ve worked together for about 10 years,” he said. “We’re going back to New York after this to do some electronic-based shows with our students.”

The concert also featured an interpretive dance by University of Minnesota student Jamie Ryan called “Snow.”

For her performance, Ryan danced onstage to the sound of amplified breathing and electronic noise.

Students present said they were impressed, even if they weren’t sure what to make of the show.

“It’s interesting,” electrical engineering senior Collin Sherraden said. “I’ve never really seen anything like it.”