In Mayhem and Majesty , the sonic hooligans of Squonk Opera push the boundaries of musical athleticism and visual wizardry, while asking the question…“ What does music look like ? ”
Each song evokes different atmospheres and dynamics, which are made vivid through mesmerizing projections and constantly transforming scenery. One moment you are alone in a swarm of stars with a gently swaying keyboard and a sparse lullaby your only guide. The next, you see how romance is just a series of cell mutations set to post-punk beats.
The Squonkers journey from the depths of moody minimalism to the heights of gypsy rock raucous delight. And our award-winning multimedia canvas takes your eyes to those wondrous places your ears have long kept secret.
The video is an exerpt taken from the Mayhem and Majesty show. The video was taken from YouTube. The video allows one to experience [some] the absolute genius that goes into each performance by, Squonk Opera.
Variety: Each song and piece was completely different
Pitches: Highs, Lows
The Artistic Directors:
Steve O ’ Hearn & Jackie Dempsey
Autumn Ayers : Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Jackie Dempsey : Piano, Keys & Accordion
Kevin Kornicki : Drums, Zen Drum, Octapad, Djembe
Steve O ’ Hearn : Flute, Sax, Wind Synth, Manybell Trumpet
David Wallace : Electric Guitar
Listen to Squonk First then watch the video.
Is it more enjoyable to watch the video instead of just listen?
SEE SQUONK: Squonk Opera: Hear and See
The culture: people, unique, difference, profound
State smoke (effect)
“ another world of music and the arts”
Being the young ones of the crowd
Where did you come up with a name like, “ Squonk Opera? ”
How long have you been a group?
Who was the originator; was it one person or two?
Is everyone in Squonk native of Pittsburgh, or relatively local?
What are all of the instruments, some are very fascinating?
Do you write all of your own music?
Do you create all of your performances, i.e. start from scratch and incorporate all of the technological and innovative ideas yourself?
Where was your first show?
When is your next show in Pittsburgh going to be?
Are your costumes all specially designed for each performance?
How many shows do you do a year, any overseas?
What technology did you start out with and you have now begun to incorporate?
Is each performance enjoyable and different? Or is it stressful?
Is the music a collaborative project, or does one person decide what the musical selection should be?
First show: Pittsburgh junkyard
First major commission in 1995 to create Night of The Living Dead: The Opera, from Marc Masterson
Squonk Opera has since created more than ten original productions and has performed in more than 250 venues across the United States.
Have been touring internationally since 2003 – to Scotland, Belgium, Germany and South Korea, where we opened the Busan International Performing Arts Festival.
Squonk has received 5 grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as support from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Jim Henson Foundation. Also, support from the Heinz Endowments, Buhl Foundation, Grable Foundation, Pittsburgh Foundation, Anonymous and others.
Taught workshops, directed collaborative creations, and done residencies at over sixty universities, middle schools and museums all over the United States, and have worked with dance groups whose styles have ranged from African gumboot to Dutch clogging to hip hop to modern.
Mayhem and Majesty : A brand new proscenium show with music, humor, and video and a light same day load-in.
Astro-rama : A large outdoor festival show with UFOs, a 40-foot radio telescope, and musicians on lifts and cranes. Squonk creates a self-portrait as a species with our audience, and beam it into the cosmos.
Hometown Opera Series : Squonk creates site-specific shows celebrating the presenter’s hometown with documentation and residency development.
Squonk Opera also accepts special event commissions.
The extreme amount of diversity, culture and musical experience evoked from Squonk Opera amazes me.
I was first introduced to Squonk Opera with my parents, in Pittsburgh for First Night many years ago. First Night takes places on New Years; offering a wide array of artists, musical venues and hands-on exhibitions.
I was able to see Squonk Opera again, at First Night 2010-2011 for a small preview of their Mayhem and Majesty Concert in March and April.
I attended the April 1 st , Mayhem and Majesty Concert.
Squonk Opera is not only music, but it is a form of art.
The art is shown through the changing visuals with each song; technology is a major component and requires an extremely knowledgeable technical crew.
The audience is left to interpret the visuals on their own; connections are made through the lighting variations, musical entertainments, and photography.
The artists allow this as a way for the audience to make a connection to a persons life, in an unusual, but unique way.
How many elements of mixed media has Squonk incorporated?
What is the overall meaning behind the music?
What is the message you are trying to convey to your audience by using so many forms of art: music, technology, movement, science…etc.?
Is there a central theme that one should be aware of when coming to a performance, or should we just take it, “for what its worth?”
How does the artist use design/the stage to invite the audience into the art of Squonk?
How does Squonk opera demonstrate their use of music in the present day compared to the what people would have listened to a hundred years ago? What would have changed, what would be different?
Students will be able to dance, sing, or choreograph their own song. The song will be illustrated with an artistic interpretation the students complete.
Students will use magnets (Squonk Opera used magnetic forces during the show during one of the musical selections) Students will use research frequencies of sound, movement, and wavelengths.
Students will work with sand and magnets to see understand how magnets have positive and negative reactions.
Students will try various sizes, shapes, and models.
Make a graph to represent the various artistic styles, instruments, pieces or technology and people involved in the production. Make sure to document and label everything appropriately.
Choose two of the instruments you are unfamiliar with or you felt drawn to after viewing Squonk Opera. Research and become very familiar with these instruments. Write a reflection on why you were attracted to these instruments.
Create a collage that represents at least 6 different genres of music from around the world.
What are the differences between Squonk Opera and a regular Opera?
How are they similar?
What is a “Regular Opera”
Research the reason behind the name, “ Squonk Opera. ”
The text, The Everyday Work of Art offers valuable advice for our advancements in Aesthetic Education, “I have come to trust that things I notice are there for some reason, and if I seek a connection between seemingly disparate occurances, I will find some deeper pattern worth attending to.’ I notice, in my life, that accidents have meaning, or everything happens for a reason. I attended Squonk to enlighten my life, enhance my well-being, and attune my mind to a different aspect of music endeavor. ‘ Accidents may have meaning.’” Page 61
Art comprises our world, actions and understandings. It’s when people can take the time to, “experience and experiment” that we can create a fuller understanding. This understanding emerges from something we are already passionate for. The author notes that, “I began to notice that when I was working on my favorite tasks at the office, the actual experience felt like my favorite work in the arts,” (9). Thus, in our everyday experiences, have it be the arts, or education, we must try to center ourselves on motivating tasks. (Booth)
Green, describes the imaginative process, “it is my conviction that informed engagements with the several arts is the most likely mode of releasing our students’ (or any person’s) imaginative capacity and giving it play.” (125)