FRISSON: Bringing Classical Music to Film

Hello everyone!  2019 has been off to a great start!  One of my passions and desires is to get more involved in new music and new art forms of the classical and operatic field.  So far this year, I have had the opportunity to see a few performances of new works as well as performing in one myself.  It is very inspiring to see new music and new ideas thrive in this world and I can’t wait to see how some of these evolve.

Back in January, I was invited to a film premiere by a new group called Frisson at the Arete Venue and Gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Frisson is a collective based in NYC focusing on the developing medium of film in classical music. They describe their desire to create art that “pulls us toward an exploration of our own humanity; provoking empathy, curiosity and a hunger to discover new perspectives using the universal language of music and the magic of film to guide us.”

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I came to see Frisson’s first project; “L’Eraclito Amoroso” – an exploration of an aria written by Italian singer, poet and composer Barbara Strozzi. The film featured classical singing, artful pole dancing, harpsichord playing, and visual content. After the screening, viewers enjoyed an environment of socializing and network with drinks and appetizers. The film featured soprano Elyse Kakacek, harpsichordist Dylan Sauerwald, dance artist Ardella Bang, directed by Ryan Rivard with sound director Matthan Black.

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Dylan Sauerwald, Ryan Rivard, Elyse Kakcek, Matthan Black

When I think of new and avant-gard art in Brooklyn, this event encapsulated that for me.  The comfortable yet energetic ambiance of the venue as well as the artists was engaging from the second you walked in the door.  You knew you were going to see something inspiring.  And sure enough, I was inspired!  I’ve worked with Elyse Kakacek before so I knew I was in for a stellar performance, but even this blew me away. The aria of “L’Eraclito amoroso” is on its own a moving and dramatic piece.  Elyse brought such a raw and natural pathos to the painful text giving it abundant gravitas, and her silvery voice captured the drama with elegance and beauty.  Dylan Sauerwald at the harpsicord mastered the lyrical flow of the aria, executing the 17th century style of the music.  His tempos and timing were beautifully matched to Elyse’s phrasing, creating a strong and compelling duet.  Having little knowledge of dancing, albeit a great love for it, what I can say about the dancing is it seemed to fit right in with the entirety of the work.  Ardella gave soft and sympathetic executions to her moves that flowed with the music.  We don’t often associate poll dancing with early Baroque music, yet for me, it all seemed to flow together very nicely.  Ryan Rivards directing was very well done.  The flow from scene to scene, the fading between singer and dancer was done with such grace and fluidity.   

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The combination of classical music and “art-house film” could be a tricky one to pull off, but Frisson has made an amazing video and I can’t wait to see what is in store for them down the road!  Very proud of the work they have created and are contributing to the world!

Photos by Ali Read

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