Summary: This was amazing / your mind will be blown / absolutely go see it, or you will have missed out on ideas that you never would have thought of.
I decided to watch dance instead of going to a dance, and I think I made an excellent choice.
The stage is divided into 12 rectangles, 3 rows by 4 columns, each numbered. The choice of twelve evokes a sense of archaicness (counting by dozens, for example), but also the more obvious connections with 20th century composition, where the twelve semitones in the octave become equal players, instead of giving the tonic, dominant, subdominant, and leading tone privileged positions. You permute the 12 tones to get a ‘tone row,’ and then apply transformations to the sequence.
[if anyone went to the Ruth Simmons concert, this is probably what the student speaker meant by “21st century mathematics and <earlier> century <something>.”]
Spoiler alert. You really probably shouldn’t read beyond here, since no one deserves to be robbed of the experience. To me, watching this performance was like jetskiing over a lake of ideas, exhilaration spraying everywhere, skin and senses barely able to hold on much less absorb it all.
[this is not a completely ‘random’ analogy. I went jetskiing for the first and only time on Lake Dunmore, on an excursion with the chamber music camp I went to that summer, Point CounterPoint. During those three weeks, I was also eaten alive by mosquitos, read The Grapes of Wrath, and picked strawberries; because I could read alto clef, and, ok, was a total music theory nerd, I got placed into the ‘highest’ theory cabin with Tim Whitehead, who introduced me to Ligeti.
Two weeks after that program, I went to Bellingham, WA for Marrowstone Music Festival, met Messrs Mahler and Bruckner, had Sinnamon Ice Cream at Mallard’s, and dipped into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Who knew that I’d be jumping into Puget Sound four summers later?]
Ok. If that digression didn’t take away your gumption to continue, I suppose you may read on.