In an unusual performance and collaborative installation with provocative German Dadaist avant-garde films, world percussionist and Fairfax County native Tom Teasley will perform original compositions to both complement and transform the original cinema art.
A multi-Helen Hayes Award recipient for professional DC area theater creative sound design works and an Arts Council of Fairfax County Strauss Fellow, Teasley tours throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia as a member of the Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Performers.
Teasley is fast becoming a regular performer at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. Joseph Wallen, Workhouse Performing Arts Director noted that “Tom’s talent and inventive performances have made him a favorite for Workhouse audiences.” Wallen added that “audiences enjoy not ‘knowing’ what to expect from a percussion concert, but are guaranteed to enjoy an amazing experience.”
Teasley’s upcoming event will be a to re-imagine classic ArtHouse films with his world beat percussion sounds, explained Wallen. “Tom has embraced the film medium as a source of inspiration and experimentation with his music, and the result is something unique and special.”
According to John Mason, Workhouse Executive Director and CEO, the Workhouse’s theatre is quickly becoming associated as a destination venue for a wide range of performing entertainment for all ages and tastes as performers and audiences are enjoying the unique setting.
When asked how he got started composing original music for the often chaotic and irreverent, avant-garde films, Teasley indicated that his interest is a natural extension of his multi-media work such as setting poetry to music or theater compositions. “The avant-garde art is very similar to creating music for dance. Instead of people actually dancing, it is abstract images.”
For his March 23 event at the Workhouse, Teasley will be using any number of world percussion instruments, not just western-style drums. For instance, “a type of pan global, ancient/futuristic drum kit I’ve created. It will include an African Djembe drum, a cajon (wooden box type drum that I sit on), foot controlled cowbell, various Middle Eastern percussion such as doumbek and riq, an electronic hand drum, an electronic xylophone type instrument, various cymbals, Native American flute and several other surprises,” explained Teasley.
And for those who have known Teasley’s work or those coming new to it, he can be expected to play more than one instrument at a time.
As for the basis of the music to accompany the films from the pre World War II 20th century, Teasley indicated the visual film is the basic superstructure. “Sometimes I will interpret an angular or circular gesture of the film with a similar stroke on a drum. In those instances it is interesting to see my gestures and how they interact with the original art.
“Some of the films such as ‘Rhythmus 21’ and ‘Symphonie Diagonal’ are very abstract with only angular and circular moving images that I interpret like dance. The others such as ‘Ghosts Before Breakfast’” and ‘Lot in Sodom’ actually have characters but are still very abstract. For those films, my music may be more theatrical as opposed to dance ... I’ll be drawing from a variety of jazz, funk, African and Middle Eastern based rhythms,” added Teasley.
He wants the audience to feel like they have really experienced something new, innovative and creative after his performance. “I would like for them to feel the horizon of where visual art and music can intersect. I also hope that the audience will see the world just a little differently after my performance,” he said.
There will be a talk-back after the performance. For Teasley, it is very helpful for him to find out what elements the audience finds the most engaging and perhaps less so. “It is through this interaction with the audience that my work moves forward and continues to grow,” he said.
Teasley recently received a Washington area music award presented at the State Theater in Falls Church. It was a 2013 “WAMMIE” for “Best World Music Instrumentalist.” He is also a world traveling performer on behalf of the U.S. State Department. He has traveled to diverse locales such as Bahrain, Iraq, Jerusalem, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Samoa to collaborate with master musicians in those cultures.
When asked about performing at the Workhouse, Teasley was clear in his high regard, “The Workhouse is an artistic treasure both for audiences and artists.”