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An open fifth is a hollow sound, like the sound of a finger running across the lip of a crystal glass or the sound of wind passing over the opening of a cave. It’s not piercing like a whistle; it’s not alarming. It’s familiar, and played over and over again, it can draw the listener to relax, breathe more deeply, and reflect.
About a year ago, Denver-based composer Matthew Langford sat down at his piano and the first two notes he played were an open fifth. He was working through a lot of emotions at the time, and wanted to write something that would both express his feelings and make room to step back and consider what was behind them. Several months later, with about a minute of the composition written, Langford reached out to friend and Denver-based collage artist Jeremy Grant to see if he’d like to collaborate. The resulting work—a combination of collage, video, and Langford’s finished composition—is being presented and performed for the first time on May 9 in a one-time event called Remnants.
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The name, Remnants, refers to the small pieces of life that often go unnoticed, but that inform the human experience. They can be internal, like breath or a pulse, or external, like wind or a blade of grass. Langford’s composition weaves layers of sound over a repeated note that echoes a heartbeat. Grant’s collage—a 50-foot-long wooden panel covered with scraps of paper taken from old issues of National Geographic—emulates a flowing river and tree branches. The idea is to slow down and consider the music and visual work and whatever thoughts or feelings they raise.
“We all breathe, we all have a heartbeat, we all can walk barefoot in the grass,” Langford says, “and the way those experiences of the world and realities of our human experience inform this subconscious experience of the world when things happen to us that are hard, easy, joyful, devastating—the connections to those are all things that I don’t think we consider enough.”
Remnants is taking place at Converge Denver, an independent coworking and event space in RiNo across the street from the Source Hotel and Market Hall. An ensemble of six musicians (including three from the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and one member of the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra) and four people playing singing bowls will perform Langford’s composition in nearly total darkness, while a video work of Grant’s collage is projected before the audience. The video pieces together photos of Grant’s collage in an animated work that corresponds with the musical composition.
Grant’s full collage will be on display before and after the performance, and the musical performance will be preceded by an improvised ensemble performance highlighting the unique sounds of each individual instrument. Food and beverages will be provided by nearby Ironton Distillery and Crafthouse, Rebel Bread, and Crooked Stave.
This is the first collaboration of Langford and Grant, but they hope to do more events in the future, potentially involving artists of other mediums and moving to larger venues. The $35 ticket price is set to cover event costs and pay the performing musicians.
If you go: Purchase tickets online at theremnants.art. The event begins at 7:15 p.m., on May 9. Converge Denver, 3327 Brighton Blvd.