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Oh, Happy Feet

Cabrillo Music Festival
Darryl Ferrucci

Double Visions: Moving & Storage Performance Company/Crash, Burn & Die Company gets musical when it takes the stage for CabMuFest's 'Big Night in America' on Saturday at the Civic.

Jazzed-up CabMuFest asks local performance art troupe to dance

By Karen Reardanz

FOR A COUNTRY that seems to hold itself in such high regard, America really has few things to call its own. Space travel? Sorry, the Ruskies did it first. Haute couture? Nope. The Statue of Liberty? Thanks for playing. But jazz music, now that's the creative fruit of our loins, pure and simple.

The Cabrillo Music Festival recognizes this American musical coup d'état and showers it with respect and adulation this week, as the festival kicks off its 35th year of bringing Santa Cruz County some of the finest, most innovative music in the world.

An ingenious celebration of orchestral pieces steeped in creativity and rich with ideas, the CabMuFest is renowned for breaking boundaries and just plain stirring things up. Founded in 1963 as a means to stimulate the orchestral world, the festival not only features the crème de la crème of composers but always has hosted a choice crop of performers to boot.

This year's melodious fête is no exception, boasting a roster of musical premieres, renditions of relatively obscure pieces and the first festival appearance of dance all neatly packaged up in this exploration of jazz and its role in the American landscape.

Saturday's Big Night in America showcases all of the above. Conductor Marin Alsop directs the festival orchestra in a performance of two short American operas--Samuel Barbar's A Hand of Bridge and George Gershwin's Blue Monday--but captures the true spirit with the introduction of Moving & Storage Performance Company/Crash, Burn & Die Dance Co. into the Cabrillo Music Festival fold.

Always balancing on the cutting edge's sharpest blade, the company dances in uncharted territory this time out, not only veering from its standard means of performance, but also working with a commissioned piece, Aaron Copland's Hear Ye! Hear Ye!, a jazzy 1934 escapade into the trial of a nightclub murder. Revamped as the newly titled A.C. Highway, it's a deviation from the dark experimental pieces the company is used to. This one's bright, fast, vibrant and theatrical to the core.

For the piece's West Coast premiere, the Moving & Storage/Crash & Burn steers away from the courtroom and turns it into a "streams of-consciousness salute to the American past rushing toward the 21st century." It turns judges and gavels into an imagery-rich barrage of machinery, jazz cafes and shopping malls streaming across the stage.

The festival then continues all week with a ton o' music, backstage free-for-alls and special dinners and lunches with composers and directors. So drop what you're doing, and get thee to the Cabrillo Music Festival.

It promises to be a week of music you won't soon forget.

Cabrillo Music Festival begins Thursday night and runs through Aug. 10. Big Night in America takes the stage Saturday (8pm) at the Civic Auditorium, 307 Church St., SC. Tickets cost $7-$24. For more info, call 429-3444.

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From the July 31-Aug. 6, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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