GCC hosts Context, an electroacoustic music concert

By Denise Parker

Glendale Community College hosted CONTEXT, a free visual art and electronic music performance, in the Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14.

Two GCC and ASU bands created by professors, Rules of Play and pincushioned, played at the concert.

Rules of Play comprised of GCC faculty member Dr. Robert Esler and Phoenix Country Day School faculty member Dr. Lisa Tolentino.The performer responsible for the visual arts is Dr. Casey Farina, a GCC Fine Arts faculty member.

ASU West faculty member Dr. Barry Moon and GCC Fine Arts faculty member Dr. Douglas Knottingham formed pincushioned.

Eight different songs were played throughout the show. Rules of Play and pincushioned switched in between songs and combined acts. The performers stood on stage in the center or towards the edges alongside their digital and traditional musical instruments, including an electronic xylophone, a virtual analog synthesizer, and various percussion instruments. Unique selections provided an array of digital sounds that brought to life the nonpareil compositions. A giant screen in back allowed the visual arts to be displayed. The images presented an important role as much as the audible. The performance continued even during intermission. Dr. Knottingham and Dr. Stefanie Gardner, a GCC Performing Arts faculty member, played an exceptional duet in the lobby.

Dr. Robert Esler playing a cowbell

Before the performance and the intermission, Dr. Esler came on stage to thank the audience for coming. He said, “September is Cyber Security Awareness Month.”

Bringing attention to the safety issue provided background for one of the compositions. He also briefly explained the technical work and the framework behind the selected songs. Audience members could follow along the elected lyrics from the program.

Dr. Douglas Knottingham and an electronic xylophone


Two stunning compositions included “Can’t See the Forest… Music” and “ILOVEYOU Stuxnet”. The first choice “Can’t See the Forest… Music” was performed by pincushioned. The visual art on screen responded to the concise sounds and the curtailed words created by Dr. Nottingham. The finished composition revealed the sounds and broken words were sewn together to create everyday phrases.

Dr. Lisa Tolentino and an analog synthesizer

The other piece purposefully clashes it. “ILOVEYOU Stuxnet” is a mock opera composed by Dr. Esler. It is the love story between two computer viruses. The performance was done by pincushioned and Rules of Play. Dr. Farina carried out the 3D animation. The voices of the viruses were distorted, purposefully portraying them to sound like movie villains.

The venue had a substantial audience. The free event encouraged people of different ages to attend. Some included students looking for extra credit.

After the performance, the featured musicians welcomed the audience to come on stage to speak with the musicians and the digital designers. The whole performance was recorded live by Maricopa TV for later broadcast.

Future performances held on the GCC campus can be found on its events page.

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