NYC Musical Saw Festival 2008


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August 28, 2008
By Posted in musical saw | 6 Comments »

I am the founder and director of the annual NYC Musical Saw Festival. This is the 6th year in which the festival took place in Astoria, NYC. The first festival had 5 musical saw players participating. This year we had 30 musical saw players. My, how the festival grew!
Participating saw players came from Germany, Canada, GA, CA, OH, PA, MO, MA, MN, NJ and of course NY.

musical saw festival
Photographer: Alex Kim

WFMU Radio’s DJ Bronwyn C called the festival “the concert of the summer. The idea of a musical saw backed up by a handbell choir makes the top of my head blow off”.
Indeed the festival featured an eclectic mix of sonic delights. A trio of NYC saw players opened the festival with a hymn accompanied by organist Judy Dimino.

musical saw festival
Photographer: Alex Kim

I presented the educational segment of the festival, featuring the musical saw as an ensemble instrument in Donizetti’s opera ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’, with singer Ilya Speranza and pianist Arielle Levioff (who is the artistic director of the ‘Goliard ensemble’), followed by a contemporary piece by composer Scott R. Munson, with Seth Gilman (baritone).

musical saw, soprano and piano
Photographer: Alex Kim
musical saw, baritone and piano
Photographer: Nick Bardach

The Trinity Handbell Choir, directed by Richard Walker, joined me in a mesmerizing rendition of Satie’s ‘Gymnopedie’.

musical saw & handbells
Photographer: AMS Wizard

Just when you thought there is no topping that off, came the highlight of the concert – the world premier of a piece by composer Scott R. Munson for musical saw and… Japanese music box. In this ‘east meets west’ gem I played together with an amplified old music box that plays a traditional Japanese koto song, weaving the sound of the musical saw along the decelerating melody of the music box.

musical saw & music box
Photographer: AMS Wizard

A succession of saw players followed, each presenting music of different styles, from classical to blues, gospel, folk, contemporary and avant guard. The audience got to witness the use of different types of saws, played in different techniques – with bows, mallets and electronic effects. A clown act and a vaudeville act featuring the saw were entertaining. The ‘Chorus of the Saws’, which featured all 30 saw players playing together, garnered a standing ovation.

chorus of the saws
Photographer: Alex Kim

The audience was also treated to an art exhibit featuring many paintings by different artists, all depicting the musical saw. Also, a video installation by Jamie Isenstine, featuring a headless magician playing the saw, accompanied by an oscillating fan blowing air into bottles – creating the effect of a mysterious jug band.

The festival, which was made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, culminated in a workshop.
The festival was filmed by Associated Press TV for world wide broadcast.

Turn off the player in the right-hand margin before playing the video below.



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6 Responses to NYC Musical Saw Festival 2008

  1. Shawn Grimes on August 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Wow! Just Wow! That sounds like a really really neat event. By the sounds of it, you’ve really tended this event into a blossoming flower of creativity and expressionism. I’m so amazed by your success but not surprised.

  2. Johannes on August 31, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Dear Natalia,

    The video: it’s really interesting and a peculiar sound, when so many saws sound together. All the best for you, Natalia.

    Johannes

  3. King Sara on September 1, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Hi,

    That is amazing! I will totally come next year. Put me on a mailing list about it.

    s
    x

  4. Nikos on September 1, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Kisses from Athens!!! The video is super!!! Next year i will be with you in your festival!!!!

  5. Franziska on September 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Natalia,
    I’m well and you?
    thank you for the left.

    I would be very lucky if I’m by the next saw meeting!!!
    Best wishes from Franziska

  6. Ben on November 27, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Hi Natalia,
    I took a look at the Saw Festival on youtube, and it was lovely! Especially your Gymnopedie
    with the hand bells – beautiful.
    Ben

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