Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blind Ear: as 'loopy' as they want to be

By Meredith Deliso

The moment Cristina Spinei stepped inside the Brooklyn Lyceum, she knew the Park Slope venue was perfect.

“I loved the acoustics, which are great there,” said the composer, one of the founders of the improvisational music ensemble Blind Ear. “Once you step in there, the lighting and background – it’s so suited for Blind Ear."

The venue is everything for an instrumental performance, especially when it breaks the mold like this one. On September 18, the collective brings their innovative, improvisational show to the Lyceum, with eight musicians and five composers making unpredictable music together.

When Spinei and Jakub Ciupinski graduated from Juilliard last spring, they wanted to start a group. The idea of a concert based totally on loops came up, and thus Blind Ear was born.

Based on an ever-evolving software program from Ciupinski, during their concerts, composers transform into DJs as musicians play streaming feeds of newly composed music (rather than looking at stands of sheet music, their eyes are glued to laptops) for a night of improv and looped music with much more in common with the pop, rather than classical, music field.

For the Brooklyn show, five composers – including the two Blind Ear co-founders and fellow Juilliard graduates Ray Lustig and Adam Schoenberg – and eight musicians, ranging from flutists to strings to percussionists – will perform, as well as dancers, also in improvisation, using every corner of the Brooklyn space.

In the past having only held concerts at the Gershwin Hotel in Manhattan, this is the first time Blind Ear is coming to Brooklyn. They are looking to reach out even more, lecturing at colleges to demonstrate to students some of the more unconventional options available, as well as farm for musicians to join the Blind Ear group.

“They have to have patience with our process and be able to improvise,” says Spinei of their musicians. “I think the musicians that know us well and believe in what we’re doing, they make Blind Ear.”

Music enthusiasts as far away as Brazil have also expressed interest in having Blind Ear perform, as a documentary they made at the Lyceum this summer has made the rounds of the blogosphere, even featured for a week on YouTube. So catch don’t miss out when this unpredictable, energetic show is only a subway ride away, and get up close to the action.

“We encourage everyone to come up and watch what the composers are doing with the computer,” says Spinei. “Few audience members are brave enough to stand behind the musicians and watch. We always need that first person to step up.”

Blind Ear comes to the Brooklyn Lyceum (227 Fourth Ave. at President Street) September 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For more information, go to or call 718-857-4816.


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