A renowned quartet headed by Blas Rivera, a brilliant composer from Brazil, came to UNC last week on Wednesday, October 2. His performance was held in the newly constructed Campus Commons at 7:30 pm.
As the lights dimmed and the string quartet came on stage, the sounds of laughter and conversation in the auditorium silenced. With a short speech by Rivera, the performance began.
The music performance starts with a piece aptly characterized as a tango and is accompanied by a clip from the movie “The Artist.” The scene shows a comical retake of the interaction between a man and a woman. The quartet’s music remains cheerful with a hint of jazz composition as the couple in the scene ran away from each other and then came back together in the end, over and over. As the soft build-up of the music drew to a quick pace, the couple finally lands the love scene right. While those visuals were on display, a surprise came out from the sides of the stage in the form of two dancers. The fluid sensual movements of the dancers were representative of the couple’s own sense of love. This is one of the only scenes that seems to fit the theme of eternal romance.
The next scenes from the original film “Nosferatu” and the later film “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” show a much less romantic scene. The accompanied music started in an intense almost frantic beat, with a high pitch of the violin. Rather than following the frightening visuals of Count Orlok as he tried to possess and turn his victim, the sounds descend into a mournful, almost yearning tempo. The squeal of the violin and the stomp of the quartet’s boots embodied the chase of Count Orlok.
The feelings of the Count, shown by a loud passionate sound that erupted from Rivera’s saxophone, and the tone turned mournful and yearning. Along with another appearance of the wonderful dance of the tango by the talented dancers. However, the music paired with the scene was mismatched as the creepy feel of the scene was still present, despite the romantic music. The music tried to interpret a sense of love in the scene, but the actions of the Count in each film were anything but romantic, only ghoulish and violating. The dance of tango now seemed to juxtapose what was on the screen. The music only exemplified the feelings of what seems to be the villains in the stories.
As the performance went on, the next scenes came from “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” The gentle start of the cello’s bass accompanied by the saxophone, led to intimate scenes of lust that filled the screens. Warm bright notes filled the auditorium, as the scene of Dracula started with a passionate love sequence. Like with the past films, a couple of dancers join the stage to tango and add one more visual for the audience to associate love and passion with the films. As the dancers intertwine and separate, the struggle of Dracula and his lover is shown as they fought and then made up. It ends as he sucks the life out of her, ending in a slow mournful tone. It was an end to a truly beautiful composition.
The very last scenes started with a soft blue and purple light shining down on the musicians as they began their last song with a forlorn gentleness. The gentle chirp of the violin strings being plucked began with the two “King Kong” films, the original 1976 feature and the 2005 version. The last time that the dancers took the stage perfectly captured one scene as King Kong was skating on the ice with his love interest. A dark rapid beat of drums played by Rivera on the speaker he sat on, and with the stomping of the feet, the tempo increased in excitement, depicting the odd scene of King Kong washing the woman from the 1976 film. The swirl of the tango dancer’s legs as they pick up the increased beat all led up to the sudden horn sound of the saxophone. With the same sudden tones, the beat drops to a slow steady ever gentle beat. Until anguish takes over the saxophone’s notes in a jazzy beat as the ending scene of King Kong plays out and he dies. The scene chosen from the original King Kong of 1976 was incompatible with the music just as with the Nosferatu film.
At some points, this performance did not seem to connect with some of the audience as the theme of eternal romance seemed like a bizarre match with some of the scenes that were chosen.
As they all took a final bow and the lights slowly came back on, people cheered for a beautifully done composition.