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Classical 101

Experimental music ensemble TAK performs at Columbus’ Fuse Factory

A woman stands behind an oversized guitar and in front of a pink background while performing Natacha Diels' "Second Nightmare for Kiku.'
Natacha Diels
courtesy of TAK ensemble
TAK ensemble performs Natacha Diels' "Second Nightmare for Kiku'

Say ‘TAK’ out loud. It’s a sound that packs a punch – just like the sonically daring music the experimental music quintet TAK performs.

“We work with a huge palette of sounds,” said TAK soprano and composer Charlotte Mundy. “We love finding the most delicate, beautiful sound worlds, and then we also love finding the scariest, darkest sound worlds we can.”

TAK will perform a concert of cutting-edge musical works with electronics Sunday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. in The Old Presbyterian Church, 1101 Bryden Road, in Columbus, under the auspices of The Fuse Factory and with support from the Johnstone Fund for New Music. The concert will open with performances by two Columbus artists – pianist Gerard Cox, who will play spontaneous multi-instrument compositions, and Danielle Milam performing her experimental electronics project Versioning.

The works TAK brings to Columbus boast strikingly original instrumentation, including electronics that add large doses of surprise. Natacha Diels’ Second Nightmare for Kiku features a violinist and two “assistants,” who pluck and bow one-stringed kikus (guitar-ukulele hybrids), trigger electronics and perform visual effects.

“We also tilt our heads in unison and move our heads in unison, move our bows in unison sometimes,” Mundy said. “So it’s kind of bizarre, but very playful and very virtuosic.”

TAK performing Natacha Diels' Second Nightmare for Kiku

The sometimes bizarre, always intriguing realm of dreams is part of the inspiration for Mundy’s The Empress Negligee and Leopard Queen Dream.

“I explore the concept of dreams as a source of enlightenment and therapy or refuge, dreams being a place where we can find a flavor of self-acceptance that we might not be able to find in our waking lives,” Mundy said.

The work also responds to elements of Christian ritual in singing and spoken word against a backdrop of electronics and the glittering sounds of bells and shakers filled with beads, gems and bells.

Brandon Lopez composed Empty and/or Church of Plenty on commission from TAK, which has performed the work many times and even recorded it. But the Columbus performance stands to be unique.

“It’s a piece that is largely improvised that has some very in-place structures and some very in-place cueing systems that allow us to sculpt the improvisation as a group in real time,” said Laura Cocks, TAK’s flutist and executive director. “And because of the largely improvised nature of the piece, it will be different every time.”

Lopez created Empty and/or Church of Plenty in direct collaboration with TAK and in keeping with the ensemble’s core values of collaboration and community.

“A lot of the collaborations that we have with composers, the way that we like to approach them is just very free and discussion-based about what it is that they’re interested in, that they’re excited about. And then we try to make whatever strange thing they’re dreaming up a reality, and we collaborate with them as closely as possible in making it a reality,” Cocks said.

Such deep collaborations, Cocks says, catalyze new works, new friendships and an approachable community built around experimental music.

“Everyone that we work with we really try to bring into our community, and that also extends to the audience and to anybody with whom we interact,” Cocks said. “It’s such a huge honor to be able to invite people into our community, to expand the ecosystem that is experimental art and wonderful, wild chamber music.”

TAK ensemble performs Sunday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. in The Old Presbyterian Church, 1101 Bryden Road, Columbus, OH 43205.

Jennifer Hambrick unites her extensive backgrounds in the arts and media and her deep roots in Columbus to bring inspiring music to central Ohio as Classical 101’s midday host. Jennifer performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago before earning a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.