Lesley Flanigan Performs Electronic Music

Electronic tunes mixed with the natural melodies of human voices as Lesley Flanigan, a New York-based experimental electronic musician, brought her handmade electronic instruments and improvisational techniques to campus last Friday night in the Timken Room in Graves Hall. Flanigan returned to campus after a previous performance with her spouse Tristan Perich ’00, the 2011 Artist-in-Residence, last winter term. Flanigan is inspired by technology and the electric sounds produced by the electronical technology, according to an Andover press release. Performing with instruments that she herself constructed out of wood, along with the regular speakers and microphones, Flanigan creates peculiar sounds, often emulating the creaks and noises commonly heard in electronic devices. “I also find the way she makes voices sound electronic, almost synth-like, is absolutely incredible. People often forget that voices are instruments, too. They’re the most versatile instruments that exist – we’re the only instrument that can create notes purposefully off-pitch. Her speakers sometimes don’t even make pitches, just scratchy feedback noise, and that’s just what [Flanigan] wants. Sound doesn’t have to be consonant or harmonious to be beautiful,” said Anna Stacy ’13, a student who brought Flanigan to campus this year. She received an Abbot Grant to bring Flanigan back for the second time after having participated in Flanigan’s concert in the Addison last year. Similar to Flanigan’s performance last year, this year’s concert also featured a group of Andover musicians from the Academy Chorus and other musical ensembles. “What I really loved about it was that I saw my voice as an instrument, just like the speakers Lesley made. She even found a way to manipulate our voices like the speakers and create sounds or even songs from our various parts,” said Michaela Barczak ’15, who performed in the concert. The concert had no concrete structure, as it was composed of pieces that were completely improvised by Flanigan and the student performers. Rather than choosing to perform full length musical pieces, Flanigan requested members of Chorus to repeat the line “No, you won’t be alone” over and over again while she determined what melody to produce. The “No you won’t be alone” act was about to end with all participating members of Chorus singing in unison until Flanigan abruptly cut off the song in the middle of a phrase. “She explained later that she was going for an effect similar to turning off a radio in the middle of a song,” said Stacy. “I thought it was a nice change to have a minimalist musician; it’s a genre of music that’s underrepresented and underrated, although I will admit that building the instruments was my favorite part of Lesley Flanigan’s visit,” said Sirus Han ’13.