Midwest Trust Center: David Krakauer and Kathleen Tagg push musical boundaries

photo by Tasja Keetman

World-renowned clarinetist and acclaimed pianist deliver passionate ‘Breath & Hammer’

A boundary-pushing musical experience blows through MTC at Johnson County Community College Jan. 20 when David Krakauer, one of the world’s greatest clarinetists, and composer/pianist Kathleen Tagg perform “Breath & Hammer: The Ties That Bind Us.”

In a musical journey you’ve likely never traveled before, Tagg’s piano performance provides a layered orchestral texture for Krakauer’s vibrant clarinet as she uses all parts of the instrument. Widely considered one of greatest innovators of modern klezmer music, Krakauer moves the audience through a combination of notes and runs, tinged with jazz, seldom heard in classical music.

For the duo, this very personal performance begins with original works by composers from around the world, including Kinan Azmeh, John Zorn, Roberto Rodriguez, Rob Curto and Emil Kroitor. Tagg and Krakauer artfully weave these pieces into a giant tapestry with little — as Tagg calls them — “musical handshakes” that transition one composition to the next. By doing so, they create their own musical language as Krakauer’s jazz and Eastern European sound intersects with Tagg’s classical and world music.

Then Tagg adds her magic. “I expand what a piano is into an entire orchestra by using the whole body of the instrument,” says Tagg. “It doesn’t sound like anything you’d expect if you saw a piano and a clarinet listed on the program.”

Cameras inside the piano show the audience what’s going on as the sounds are made so that “every sound you hear, you also see being made live on the stage, taking you into the creation of the music itself,” Tagg adds.

Krakauer provides the finishing touch with his mesmerizing and improvisational play. “Kathleen and I started out playing classical music together,” Krakauer says. “But we realized there’s so much more we could do together musically, including create a whole new language of sounds.

“What we’re doing is melodic and instantly accessible to anyone who comes,” encourages Krakauer. “Although it’s very tightly structured in the classical sense, we feed off each other with improvisation throughout. It’s a lot of fun and never the same performance twice.”

Purchase tickets for “Breath & Hammer: The Ties That Bind Us” at jccc.edu/MidwestTrustCenter.

–Midwest Trust Center

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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