Future sounds — and old-timey ones, too — at OSU’s ‘Soundbox’

by | May 22, 2023 | Arts and Entertainment | 0 comments

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Oregon State University’s “Soundbox 6,” a five-day interdisciplinary festival featuring makers in music technology, poetry, art, engineering, science and more, begins Monday in Corvallis, and the event’s founder promises activities that offer glimpses of a future when artists easily cross between genres or disciplines.

But this year’s festival, the first in-person event since the pandemic, also offers a look back at a revolutionary technology that debuted more than a century ago: those newfangled moving pictures.

The “Soundbox” blend of the familiar with more adventurous soundscapes is part of the point of the festival, said Dana Reason, its founder and OSU’s director of contemporary music.

“We live in this sort of post-genre moment in music,” Reason said. “You can do a lot of different things, so we can move fluidly” between genres. And musicians increasingly are interested in working in other disciplines as well as seeking out collaborations with other creators.

“I think that is representative of the music industry today,” she said. “You know, there’s something for everyone.”

And that’s the case at “Soundbox 6.” (Most events are being held at OSU’s Memorial Union, 2501 SW Jefferson Way in Corvallis. The festival is free and open to the public.)

“Of course, we always like to be a little adventurous,” Reason said. “And, you know, we want to expose people to new ways of thinking about sound and music.”

The festival also allows OSU students a chance to perform outside the classroom.

The “Soundbox” schedule is packed, but Reason pointed to special events with featured artists that might be of particular interest to community members. They include:

  • A performance by Mexican percussionist Ivan Manzanilla, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 24 in Room 109 of the Memorial Union. Manzanilla also will join OSU percussionist Bob Brudvig and OSU percussion students for a performance of Terry Riley’s seminal 1964 piece “In C” at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 25, also in Room 109 of the Memorial Union. Reason said it’s likely the first time the Riley piece has been performed at OSU.
  • Professional violinist and composer Rebecca Sabine (an OSU graduate), who’s performed with Lady Gaga, Celine Dion, Tony Bennett and many others in Las Vegas, will perform at noon Friday, May 26, in Room 109 of the Memorial Union.
  • Installations by artists Melody Owen, an OSU graduate, and Jack Snell-Ryan, a professor of art at the University of Oregon are part of the festival, in addition to a series of “Sound Hunts” – think scavenger hunts for specific sounds on the OSU campus – created by OSU students.
  • Reason herself takes the spotlight at 7 p.m. Thursday with a screening of the 1916 silent movie “The Snowbird.” The film was included in “Cinema’s First Nasty Women,” a DVD project from Kino Lorber; Reason was the musical director for the project and wrote a score for the 86-minute feature. Reason and Jon Lewis, OSU’s distinguished professor of film studies, will be on hand to discuss the music and the movie. The screening will be held at Darkside Cinema, 215 SW Fourth St. Like the other events in “Soundbox 6,” it’s free, but seating at the Darkside is limited.

Reason said she had a blast working on the “Nasty Women” project and writing a score for “The Snowbird.”

“The fun thing about it, if you’ve never attended a silent film with music is that, at first, the music seems overbearing,” she said. “But then there’s a switch that happens and, all of a sudden, the music becomes just like part of the scene; you’re not thinking of it as separate anymore. … So it’s a very interesting experience. And I’m so excited to be there with Jon to do this.”

No registration is required for “Soundbox” events.

Click here for a full schedule of events and more information about “Soundbox 6.

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