Mill Valley, CA (Vocus) September 30, 2009
TRIMPIN: the sound of invention, a new feature film screening at both the Mill Valley Film Festival and the San Francisco DocFest, shows San Francisco's own Kronos Quartet as they've never been seen before.
What happens when a composer/inventor asks these renowned string virtuosi to play toy and homemade instruments? When Kronos' musicians - each one, an expert sight reader - are handed cryptic, almost nonsensical 'conceptual' scores under a tight premiere deadline, how does the quartet cope?
Kronos' artistic director David Harrington and producer Janet Cowperthwaite gave producer/director Peter Esmonde unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the quartet's collaboration with 'genius' composer/inventor/artist Trimpin. Come along for the ride as Kronos wrestles with toy guitars, argues over electronic music machines, and tries to figure out how to play 'wired' string instruments using compact discs. Hailed by The LATimes' Mark Swed as "fine and fun," TRIMPIN: the sound of invention is an amusing, up-close chronicle of wildly creative investigations and explorations -- with all their challenges, pitfalls, and sheer joys.
In addition, TRIMPIN: the sound of invention features rare archival footage of the genius artist/inventor with iconic American maverick composer Conlon Nancarrow. The film highlights interviews with contemporary luminaries Charles Amirkhanian (Bay Area producer, composer, and executive director of Other Minds) and Kyle Gann (author, professor, and composer).
Previous audiences (at SXSW, Silverdocs, and international film fests in Seattle and Newport) especially enjoyed scenes of Trimpin:
- designing and constructing his 60-foot tornado of 700+ self-playing electric guitars at Seattle's Experience Music Project;
- explaining just how an ensemble of giant marimbas (40- to 120-feet long!) takes realtime earthquake data and converts it into music;
- devising a percussion ensemble comprised of tuned Dutch wooden clogs; using tv tubes, slide projectors, and juice dispensers to create musical sculpture; and building a 'perpetual motion' machine in a glass foundry.
Trimpin himself has been lured away from his studio to attend the Mill Valley Film Fest; surprise guests will also be on-hand for post-screening Q+A.
Both Trimpin and producer/director Peter Esmonde are available for press interviews.
Diana Iles Parker