Fantini Futuro is an audio-visual performance work in progress by Ben Neill for the mutantrumpet, his self-designed electro-acoustic instrument,vocal soloist, Baroque organ, and harpsichord. The work is directed by Bob McGrath of Ridge Theater, with interactive projection mapping design by Bravo Media. The vocal soloist is Scottish countertenor Andrew Montgomery, with whom Neill first worked with in the early 2000’s. Montgomery’s countertenor voice, hailed by critics as “angelic”, “heavenly” and “celestial”, will provide the narrative which depicts Fantini as a time traveler from the 17th century to the future. The keyboards will be played by Gwendolyn Toth, who is recognized as one of America’s leading performers on early keyboard instruments. Digital fabric artist LaJune McMillian will design the interactive LED-equipped Baroque costumes that will display video controlled by Neill’s mutantrumpet in the performance.
The music and architectural milieu of early Baroque trumpeter/composer Girolamo Fantini provide the source material for this fantastical new piece that fuses music, architecture, and fashion using a variety of interactive performance technologies. Fantini was the early Baroque trumpet virtuoso who was responsible for bringing the trumpet indoors from the hunt and the battlefield to the realm of art music. A musical celebrity in his time, his Modo per Imparare a Sonare di Tromba (1638) was one of the earliest collections of music written for trumpet alone as well as with keyboards. Fantini Futuro remixes and collages Fantini’s material both compositionally and in real time during performance, transforming it into a contemporary expression. The choice of Fantini as the focus of the work reflects the parallel between Neill’s redefinition of the trumpet as multi-timbral, digitally equipped instrument and that of the Baroque virtuoso who first brought it indoors.
Fantini Futuro draws connections between the dynamic energy of early Baroque musical and architectural vocabularies and minimalist patterns and processes, reinterpreting them through contemporary techniques of spatialization, minimalism, and interactive visual media. The technique of live sampling will be used throughout to create layered contrapuntal textures from performances of the live musicians. The improvisatory nature of the piece references the original performance practice of music in Fantini’s era. Fantini Futuro reflects on the transformative power of current technology using the history of a musical instrument as a metaphor.
The visual component of the piece is primarily comprised of architectural details from buildings designed and built at the time of Fantini, as well as places where he lived and performed.
In addition, the performers will wear costumes that blend elements of the 17th century and a futuristic construction. incorporating LED fabric technologies. The LEDs will enable a transformation of the costumes along with the manipulation and layering of the audio and projected visual material. The video images that are projected are mirrored in the costumes using LED mapping technology. Over the course of the work the performers will gradually appear to dematerialize into the backgrounds, representing Fantini’s journey from outdoors to indoors to virtual reality.
In preparation for MetLiveArts, 2020-21 season
Suzanne Ball, Event Producer