“For me, this concert began about four years ago, when I was wondering to myself if it might be possible to gain access and play artistically with the Giant Dome Theater at Reuben H. Fleet Science Center,” says SDSU professor of music Joseph Martin Waters of this year’s NWEAMO music arts festival, titled “Circus From Another Planet: Play, Players, Playing & Playfulness.”
“I had seen the science films and could not help wanting, as a composer who works with visual media, to try my hand at creating something outrageously imaginative.”
The festival, showcasing experimental music performances paired with visual displays, will be staged March 22 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on Front Street and on March 23 in Fleet’s Heikoff Giant Dome Theater.
“This is the first time the dome has been given to artists...until very recently, the dome has only been used for the IMAX film format. A couple years ago, they began retrofitting their facilities with newly emerging super-high-resolution video projectors. This means that content can now be created on a desktop computer, so artists — who are rich on imagination and who often labor months or years create a single groundbreaking work but lack deep pockets — can now participate.”
According to Waters, “There will 13 full dome works in the festival, including 11 world premieres, and artists coming here from Singapore, Austria, Mexico City, New York City, and L.A.” Among the local performers are Waters’s own band Swarmius, who will appear with Jeff Alan Ross, best known from Peter Asher’s band and Badfinger. “We have co-arranged one of Badfinger’s hits, ‘Day After Day,’ and another of Jeff’s originals, ‘The Crossing.’ We’ll premiere both Saturday night at the First Unitarian Universalist Church. To pay for the facility use, we’ll reprise some of the Saturday-night works at the Sunday services.”
The event also includes the debut of Waters’s “Leprechauns in Starlight,” which he describes as “a little acoustic piece that features visiting Swarmius friend and keyboardist Peripateticus [Geoffrey Burleson] on the Suzuki Andes 25F, a little-known Japanese invention that is literally pan-pipes with a keyboard.” Last year’s festival drew around 400 people, and “we’re hoping to expand that by several hundred,” says Waters.
“We aim to be mounting shows the size of Cirque du Soleil, eventually. We are the music and video equivalent, if you notch up the aesthetics and replace the dazzling physical feats with dazzling musical feats.”