Bernhard Gal, Chao-Ming Tung | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bernhard Gal, Chao-Ming Tung

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See Sunday. Gal joins local musicians Brian Labycz, Vadim Sprikut, and Jason Soliday for a set of live electronic improvisation. TV Pow headlines and the quartet of cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, trumpeter Axel Dorner, percussionist Michael Zerang, and bassist Jason Roebke plays second. Friday 1, 8:30 PM, Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, 773-342-4597, $7. All ages.

Local composer and bass clarinetist Gene Coleman has been organizing the Sound Field festival of new music every year since 2000, and one of the subtexts to emerge from the event is that the world is shrinking. Born in Taiwan but based in Cologne, Germany, composer Chao-Ming Tung plays a Chinese zither called the gu zheng, and his work blurs the lines between his native tradition, Western composition, and improvisation. In TunGal, his duo project with Viennese composer and sound artist Bernhard Gal, he enhances and twists his improvisations with electronics, but the gu zheng never loses its twangy, splintery character. Gal feeds samples of Tung's output into his own computer, refracting and stretching the instrument's halo of overtones into a spooky, hovering drone.

In his own work Gal frequently reveals a fascination with the musicality of language. "It's Like . . ." juggles collaged tracks of a woman's voice to playfully foreground the placeholders in American speech: "I think this stuff, kind of, you know..." And his new CD, Hinaus:: In den, Wald (Klanggalerie), explores the idiosyncratic, nearly abstract writings of self-taught Swiss artist Adolf Wolfli, institutionalized for attempted child molestation in 1895; for the source tracks, Gal and a young Taiwanese girl who knew no German both recited Wolfli's sound poetry. At this show Coleman's Ensemble Noamnesia will perform a new Gal piece that mixes improvised and composed material, with the group's members spread throughout the audience. The program also features Tung's recent solo piece "Tune of the Lost Country" with Noamnesia's Lisa Goethe sitting in on bass flute, a new work by Coleman, a set by TunGal, and improvisations by the trio of Gal, Tung, and Coleman. Sunday 3, 8 PM, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis, 773-702-8670. Free. All ages. See also Friday.

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