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[Big Ears Festival 2010] Calder Quartet & Iva Bittová

Filed in Big Ears 2010 and Live Reviews 1 comments

Thomas Bartlet [Big Ears Festival 2010] Calder Quartet & Iva Bittová
(Photo of Thomas Bartless aka Doveman by Keith Klenowski)

Each Note Secure is down in Knoxville this weekend for the 2010 Big Ears Fest.  This year’s festival is guest curated by Bryce Dessner (The National, Clogs), who somehow managed to put together an amazing lineup at Big Ears and organize MusicNOW, now in its fourth year.

The festival kicked off at the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) for world-renowned string quartet Calder Quartet and singer/violin virtuoso Iva Bittová.

The intimate concert opened with a beautifully understated set from folk artist Sam Amidon, joined by Thomas Bartlett aka Doveman on piano.   The two, who were celebrating 20 years of music together according to Amidon, complemented each other well.  Each song was an original folk song arranged for guitar/banjo and piano, juxtaposing Amidon’s sparse bluegrass banjo picking and calming voice with Barlett’s lush, flowing piano.  Most of the tracks can be found on his two albums, All Is Well (2007) and the upcoming I See The Sign.  Armidon closed the set with a whispered singalong with the audience and a jerky interpretive dance that left more than a few scratching their heads.

Calder Quartet joined the stage soon after with violinist and singer Itta Bittova.  The program featured music by Janáček, Fred Firth and Bartók.  Bittova proved to be a versatile and dynamic singer, switching between singing haunting, passionate lyrics to using her voice as an instrument to chirp, howl, coo and yelp.  Equally noted was Bittova’s engaging performance – the animated musician constantly interacted with Calder Quaret and spent a large portion of the show exploring the space during pieces, sometimes playing and singing as she walked among the audience.

The Big Ear Fest’s opening concert set the tone as a festival that seeks to defy genres and convention.  Amidon’s humble folk songs contrasted against the lush string arrangements of Calder Quartet and the raw, soulful vocals of Iva Bittova was a perfect representation of what to anticipate at the rest of the festival.

Posted by   @   27 March 2010 1 comments

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