15 November, 2009

The Wild Beast Stirs

Anyone who's been out to Valencia, CA to experience The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in person knows that it's a special place. There's a strict freedom of expression rule—there's a clothing-optional situation in effect, an unspoken look-the-other-way policy regarding certain substances, and little or no regulation of self-expression via graffiti. In a lot of ways, it's the Wild West, and that can be a very good thing for art-making.

Well, they've recently built a brand new concert hall. Inside sources tell me that it's not quite ready for the public yet—still working on some landscaping around the space—but that the building itself is pretty great. While few on the outside would have been shocked if they'd named it "The James Tenney Memorial Concert Hall"—or something like that—that's just not CalArts' style. Quite to the contrary, they've named it "The Wild Beast."

As this article mentioned, CalArts seems on the surface to just like naming its spaces after animals, cf. REDCAT. But as the CalArts site reports, it actually has very little to do with animals, at least not of the four-legged variety: "The new music pavilion has been named The Wild Beast by lead donor Abby Sher in honor of composer Morton Feldman's metaphor for mystery of sound and silence from which the vibrant of music emerges." According to illustrations, a sign outside the hall will display Feldman's words: "I am interested in how this wild beast lives in the jungle, not in the zoo." (My source suggests that this sign might not actually be erected, which would be a tragic shame. The sentiment stands all the same, I suppose.)

But what's the space like? How does it sound? From what I can tell (and have heard) it looks and sounds great, and is extremely versatile. But don't take my word for it! Watch this video for the proof: