“What? Sing and play and speak Japanese at the same time?”
Though it seems like a bizarre question, it is one that Ann Stimson, an adjunct instructor of flute and director of the flute choir at Kenyon, has come to be familiar with.
This Sunday, Stimson will perform in Brandi Recital Hall along with Marc Ainger, associate professor of music at The Ohio State University, where Stimson also teaches music theory and composition. Their performance will feature Stimson on flute and Ainger on his computer manipulating her sounds to create an experience that is at once intended to be classical and cutting-edge. They will perform songs by composers including Toshio Hosakawa, Pierre Jodlowski and Ainger himself.
The two artists have been making music together for some time.
“Marc and I have worked together for many years. He has a limitless imagination for sound and an impressive drive for perfection,” Stimson said.
Although Stimson initially dismissed some of Ainger’s requests for creating music, they eventually began to see eye-to-eye.
“He would keep challenging me until I found a way to give him the sound he wanted,” Stimson said. “Now I trust him and assume that we will work it out.”
Stimson began playing flute at the age of 10, after six years studying piano. She pursued music for what she calls the usual reasons ﾗ “the expressive release, the pleasure of sound, the intellectual and physical challenge, the joy of performance.” Stimson cites Mario Davidovsky’s “Synchonisms I” as the piece that most inspired her.
“As a freshman I was enchanted by the piece,” she said. “This is an early flute and tape work. I knew I wanted to play with that extended sound palate.”
She also remembers being drawn to a wide array of other sounds.
“I think what may make me a little different from most musicians is my appreciation of all sounds. I’ve always enjoyed imitating people and environmental sounds,” she said. “Our sound world is much richer than most people realize. This is one reason I enjoy working with electronic music. It supercharges the flute with possibility.”
Beyond sounds, Stimson is interested in both stop-motion photography and animation.
“I like the early Aardman Studios shorts. There’s one called ﾑIdent’ that has a wonderful sound track. It’s so wonderfully expressive with so little language,” she said.
A proud new owner of a Wacom tablet, which allows one to draw digitally, Stimson is currently learning to create her own animations. “I wish I had more time to work with it,” she said.
Ainger, a classical guitarist among many other endeavors, echoes Stimson’s feelings toward the bountiful prospects that arise when combining the electric and the acoustic.
“It is magic,” Ainger said. “What you can do with sound and computers is magic. I love so many kinds of music. But computer and electronic music is a music of our time ﾗ it could never have existed before our time ﾗ so it is logical that I would be drawn to it.”
Ainger is greatly influenced by the work of John Cage.
“Once I discovered the music of John Cage, I was hooked,” Ainger said. “From there I discovered a whole world of sound, but especially electronic music. I enjoy [collaborations] because when you work with, for instance, two different artists, the result is not 1+1 = 2. Rather, you produce a third thing, something that is greater than just the result of two artists.”
The show promises to bring interesting flavors to Kenyon, a varied palate of sounds.
“The trick is to use the tools intelligently and artistically,” Stimson said.
With all that a flautist and sound crafter are capable of, this show seems to be, as Stimson said, supercharged with possibility.
Stimson and Ainger will perform in Brandi Recital Hall on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m.