If music were to become art, in its purest form, it would be due to The Salty Cricket Composers Collective.
On February 23, 2008 SCCC introduced their first performance at Salt Lake’s downtown, abandoned-building-turned-venue The Pickle Company, and opened up the doors for a new, fresh music scene so badly vied for in Salt Lake. SCCC, a group of Utah composers, brings together innovative, creative and non-traditional music pieces three times a year for the general public of Utah. Ranging anywhere from improvisation to classical piano pieces, the collective not only focuses on music – but on atmosphere, as well.
The February show kicked off in the attic of the Pickle Company, casting an undeniable euphoric feel over the audience as we sat in our chairs within the hushed concrete walls. The first piece was a classical piano piece titled “Snowy,” written by Rebecca Dawn and sounding like a quieter, more subdued version of new age composer David Lanz. The piece spawned three movements, swirling in and out between dark fortes touched with gentle, lighter gliding of higher keys– conjuring contrasting images of a white snowstorm framed against a black night. The second and most remarkable piece of the entire show was an improvisational piece by a group called UBA. This group, adorned by a pianist, a tuba front man and an electrical agent in the background mixing, came up with some of the most bizarrely beautiful jazz-esqu noises I’ve ever heard – sounding like a mixture between Wolf Eyes and Thelonious Monk. It was remarkable, and the entire audience sat stunned in their seats as they left the stage.
Quickly following in sublime ecstasy was guitarist Gary Gerber, accompanying his strangled guitar noises with a film titled Out of the Shadows IV. Fire. The film was pretty disturbing, but that was the effect that he seemed to be going for. It was a nice contrast to the following performance, a set of seven short pieces by an eccentrically aesthetically pleasing Christain Asplund. The pieces all seemed to flow into each other, but at times lacked anything particularly striking, but served to more or less relax the audience after its chaotic predecessor. The pieces set the mood for the soprano and baritone pieces that were to come next, which opened a window of vivid insight into a new musical Utah. Our music scene seems to be set in its standards and ways – and when something different, such as these melodic, operatic soprano/baritone pieces performed by Ryan Taylor and Crystal Young-Otterstrom come into play, it not only throws us off guard, but it forces us to open our horizons into new music – or, should I say different music. These pieces, titled “Three Songs From Paragon” and “X” were not only invigorating, but enlightening, as well. All of X was sung in Latin – a remarkable feat – and “Three Songs” chronicled a love story between two sweethearts in Nazi Germany. Using phrases from Emily Dickinson, Greek gravestones and various authors, the entire piece wrapped up beautifully around Otterstrom’s compelling operatic voice – leaving me vying to hear her next project. It was a compelling and drastic close to the show, that left the audience in elated shambles.
The Salty Cricket Composers Collective is something that will not, and most certainly should not, go unnoticed. I had no idea what I was in for when I went to this concert, and respectively, it blew my mind. I was stunned by the fresh and classic creativity coming from these artists. Although dangerously blasphemous to say, this show beat out any live show I’ve ever seen, period. The next show is in May – and I am anxious and excited to see what new material SCCC has waiting for us. If you get a chance, do yourself a favor and go. It’s worth it.