Parts Unknown: Greenwich House Explores “Uncharted” Music

brandee younger, greenwich house music school, uncharted series
Harpist Brandee Younger, launched the Uncharted Music Series with a varied and experimental set.

What It Is…
Your Thursday evenings may require musical cartography skills if the folks at Greenwich House Music School (GHMS) have their way. Last year the over century old establishment cast an ear to the past with a series of shows that paid homage to the Café Au Go Go. That venue shared a neighborhood – New York City’s West Village – with the music school through most of the 1960’s. Hosting an array of performers from Lenny Bruce to Cream, the Café has achieved legendary status.

This time around the GHMS 8 week community concert series is titled Uncharted and aimed at exploration of parts unknown. Concert curator Jennie Wasserman, Associate Artistic Producer at San Francisco’s SFJAZZ, asked each of the featured artists to direct their performances to areas of their artistry that would normally not get aired. The relaxed living room vibe of the music school’s Renee Weiler Concert Hall, and an audience most likely predisposed to new experiences, certainly offers the “safe place to take risks” that Wasserman hopes to establish.

brandee younger, greenwich house music school, uncharted series
(L to R) Courtney Bryan, Brandee Younger and Mia Theodoratus debut new material at Greenwich House Music School.

What Went On…
On opening night harpist Brandee Younger was introduced by GHMS director Rachel Black who noted the GHMS faculty member’s impressive résumé, ranging from traditional jazz to hip-hop and pop. Younger, along with pianist Courtney Bryan and harpist Mia Theodoratus, took up the series’ challenge and skewed her set into the “discomfort zone.” Material included a piece by Younger so new it was yet to be titled, an Alice Coltrane cover, and work being prepped by Bryan for Prophetika, An Oratorio which will have its official debut at La MaMa later this month.
courtney bryan, mia theodoratus, brandee younger, greenwich house music school, uncharted series
Brandee Younger and Mia Theodoratus run through “Uncharted” charts at soundcheck.
Midway through the set, the harp duet “Orbits” offered delicate intertwining melodies that passed each other in purposefully loose meter. Composer Theodoratus prefaced the song’s first performance by explaining that she and Younger would be working off tiny LED blinker boxes, each set to a different tempo, an experiment that successfully evinced the elliptical nature of planetary travel. The boxes were scratch built by artist and musician Lary 7, who also recorded Theodoratus’s most recent album Electric Silver, released on Plastikville Records last October. Seven is himself the subject of a recent documentary Not Junk Yet, The Art of Lary 7, directed by Danielle de Picciotto.

In addition to the performance on stage, pen and ink artist Michael Arthur chronicled the event for GHMS archives and will continue to do so throughout the series. Keep an eye on his daily blog for Uncharted updates.

What’s To Come…
The GHMS Uncharted series promises to be a one of a kind experience. Concerts continue every Thursday evening through April 30, 2015 and the full line-up can be found here.