The Force of Things: an Opera for Objects is an immersive work of music theater that wrestles with the animate vitality of matter and the mounting hum of ecological anxiety around us. The project is driven by a desire to tune our focus toward a rate of change and a scope of alteration at odds with the scale of human life. Audience members enter into a field of sculpted matter ringed by speakers emitting sounds too low for humans to hear. Though they vibrate under the threshold of audibility, this choir of subwoofers causes waveforms that ripple through and activate the material space. Aircraft cables, tensioned web-like across the 150-foot performance space, double as infrastructure and instrument when bowed like mammoth double basses. Two singers snake side-by-side amidst the audience, shouting a warning that sounds like a whisper in a language no one can understand. The piece has a palpable sense of urgency and yet it’s eerily still, as if the timescales are off, as if some future frantic state reaches us only in slow motion. These moves attempt to train our perception beyond its apparent boundaries—below the sounds we’re built to hear and through the illusions of stasis and separation that render us still in the face of collapse.
Creative Team: Ashley Fure (composer), Adam Fure (architect), Ross Karre (producer/percussionist), Levy Lorenzo (engineer/percussionist), Nicholas Houfek (lights), Alice Teyssier and Lucy Dhegrae (voices), Ryan Muncy (saxophone), Rebekah Heller (bassoon), Dustin Donahue (percussion), with special thanks to César Alvarez (dramaturg) and Patrick Eakin-Young.
The Force of Things is made possible by generous commitments from the International Contemporary Ensemble: First Page Program, University of Michigan Office of Research, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Dartmouth College Provost’s Office Seed Funding Program, Miller Theater at Columbia University (NYC), and Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt (IMD). This project was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from New Music USA project grants. With the friendly support of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung.
The Force of Things premiered at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music in August 2016. Peak Performances at Montclair State University hosted 4 sold out shows of its American Premiere on October 6, 7, 8 2017. The video below offers a 7 minute snapshot of the 55 minute piece, edited from audio and video footage captured during dress rehearsal at Kasser Theater.
Photos (2 ,3, 4, 5, 6) below by Marina Levatskaya, courtesy of Peak Performances at Montclair State University. All other photos and video by Digitice Media Team.