The Creativity Found at UCI’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology Concert

By Delia Cruz Kelly

To the untrained ear, identifying and appreciating the individual components of a layered piece of music is no small task, but UCI’s Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT) Concert’s bare-bones stage in the Experimental Media Performance Lab made the intricacies of the individual hard to miss. The intimate audience got a close up look into the handiwork of five ICIT first-year graduate students, each premiering their original compositions.

Technical difficulties prevented Antoni Fajt’s first piece “Weaving Choir” from opening the night as it was meant to, but he would return later in the concert. Instead, Denisa Micliuc kicked off the show on the piano, playing Hesam Abeini’s composition “Equipoise”. Its style of composition allows for the artist to choose the order of movements, making for a performance that captured the audience’s attention with every key. Like many of the acts to come, “Equipoise”  brought in middle-eastern influence, specifically from Iranian literature, music, and poetic rhythms.

One such act, “Nine Caricatures for Piano, Voice and Audience” performed by Elias Berezin (baritone) and Adib Ghorbani (piano), proved to be the most memorable of the night. Illuminated onto the large projection screen behind the stage was a warning: “This work contains disturbing images”. This unexpectedly jarring message precursed a multi-media, audience participation, live artwork nearing a state of delirium. In one segment Berezin acted as a game show host of “The Victim of the Week” which was sort of an unsettling satirical history lesson with images of war victims blazoned on the screen in a slideshow. The act could be likened to the wreckage of a car accident, even if you wanted to look away you couldn’t help but stare and deduce the situation. “Nine Caricatures”  will be on the minds of the audience for days.

Antonit Fajt returned to perform “Reflections Of”, an improvisation piece utilizing the disclavier. Fajt’s notes mirrored his movements and were at once chaotic yet harmonious. Adib Ghorbani’s second song of the night, “Cycle”, composed by Niloufar Shiri, created a story not with words but with beautiful Persian poetic rhythms. Its six miniatures varied in pauses and frequency creating an air of imaginative stillness in the room as silence filled the spaces between keys. Ghorbani ended “Cycle” with a graceful nonchalance as if humbly unaware of the mesmerized audience in front of him.

The final two pieces of the night were the compositional products of Tomoko Ozawa. “You See Me” and “Current State of Mind” were both performed by a quartet of Ozawa (piano),  Matthew Heath (electric guitar), Julian Sandor (upright bass), and Forest Muther (drum set). The pieces were defined by interlocking and alternating melodies from each individual instrument. Seamless transitions were made more impressive by the visible intensity of each artists’ focus, each conscious of the related beats but honed in on their own.  

ICIT’s concert emphasized the individual creativity behind every composition, whether it be the length of pauses between notes on the piano or the avant-garde presentation of an idea through media. However unconventional, every choice contributes to the final masterpiece.