“Cyber Guitarist” and crew to rock Great Hall

Three cities concert with “cyber-guitarist” and Wits music lecturer to rock the Great Hall on 28 April.

HACKED EQUIPMENT: The “cyber-guitarist” Jonathan Crossley stands with his heavily modified Ibanez guitar that he will play at the 3 cities concert in the Great Hall on 28 April. Photo: Reuven Blignault.

HACKED EQUIPMENT: The “cyber-guitarist” Jonathan Crossley stands with his heavily modified Ibanez guitar that he will play at the 3 cities concert in the Great Hall on 28 April. Photo: Reuven Blignault.

Three cities, three musicians, one Great Hall.

Wits music lecturer and “cyber guitarist” Jonathan Crossley will unite with New York based drummer, Lukas Ligeti and Capetonian drummer, Jonno Sweetman for a performance of epic proportions in the Great Hall on Tuesday, 28 April.

In the hopes of duplicating the success of last year’s show, the trio will come together again in the hopes of making an even more successful performance.

Crossley will be performing on his unique cyber guitar system, a hardware “hacked” Suzuki Omnichord, as well as playing an array of other unique instruments.

Jonno Sweetman, a musician and avid surfer, will be packing his surfboard away and bringing his drumsticks on his way from Cape Town.

With 32 years of study, Crossley is a classically trained guitarist, but on stage he appears to be something of a combination of man, robot, and guitar.

Crossley put on a world-first musical performance a few months ago, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for his doctorate in music.

It took Crossley three years to create what he calls his “hardware hacked electric jazz guitar”. Crossley describes himself as a guitarist, technologist, cyber-protagonist and composer.

When asked about his “unique” instrument, Crossley describes “the instrument system itself is completely software free… no PCs or laptops are engaged actively whatsoever in the performance and further no music is pre-prepared in a recorded audio format. All music is improvised wholly live”.

“The performance will be completely unlike traditional music, which is either pre-prepared or improvised over a predesigned set of constraints”, Crossley said illustrating further on the upcoming performance.

Lukas Ligeti will be jetting in from New York where John Zorn’s Stone Club where they have recently presented a week-long retrospective of his work. Ligeti lives in Joburg and New York and is currently completing his PhD at Wits.

Ligeti often leads or co-leads several bands such as Burkina Electric (the first electronic band from Burkina Faso), Sonic Youth and the Grateful Dead. Ligeti has collaborated with musicians across Africa, and in 2010 he received the Alpert Award in Music.

Jonno Sweetman is much in demand as a drummer and has played with the Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner, Kyle Shepherd, and has travelled beyond his borders to perform in Europe and Asia.

The trio will be performing improvisations between each other, playing original works and rock classics from bands such as Nirvana.

Music staff practice what they teach

The deep dramatic melodies of the piano reverberated around the room and I felt this uncomfortable feeling in my chest as if my heart was fluttering. My eyes began to water and I felt as if I had a giant marble in my throat as I looked into her eyes and saw, glistening in the light, what looked like the glaze of tears.

I always tell people to listen to all kinds of music as I do but this was my first experience at a classical music concert. WitsMusic hosted a classical music concert in the Atrium on Tuesday night showcasing the talent of classical musicians from around the country.

It was an hour long event that took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and imagery in my mind. I always imagined that my first live encounter with classical music would involve a big theatre and an orchestra numbering near the hundreds, but this concert was exactly the opposite.

The Atrium is a small cosy venue, with a lowered stage no more than 10 feet away allowing the audience of 102 to look straight at the performers. The soft, warm glow of the orange lighting against the wood of the stage added to the intimate feel of the evening as if we were in a room lit with hundreds of candles.

It was the second act of the evening with Michele Corbin, a Soprano, and, pianist from Tri Hemany, Malcolm Nay that almost brought me to tears last night. Corbin evoked emotion around the room with the powerful range of her voice and expressions on her face as she bellowed out a song or, “chanson” as it’s called in the opera world that recalled past memories of love.

As I looked around the room I couldn’t help but notice the small audience had very few young people who weren’t arts and music students there to support their teachers and family members. It got me thinking about why more young people aren’t open to the experience of classical music.

Deejaying and creating beats on computer programmes with synthesizers and other music creating gadgets is more the choice of the younger generation today, and perhaps taking things back to basics with real instruments is the best place to start on the path to rue musical appreciation. Even my partner who doesn’t consider himself much of a classical music kind of guy was visibly moved to a point where he declared the evening “cool”.

It’s one thing to listen to classical music on the radio or a CD but to have a live classical experience is quite different, with nothing but instruments classical artists paint pictures in your mind, and if you surrender to the melodies and allow the music to engulf you, you may just discover a deeply emotional or creative part of you, you never knew existed.

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