Steve Jobe has just spent the morning securing a van that can transport his giant hurdy gurdy. “it’s not hard to get it through doorways; it was designed to fit sideways, but the length can be a problem…Looks like a couple rows of seats will have to come out.” The ten foot “Bosch Hurdy Gurdy”, modeled after the massive instrument visible in a section of the Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece, “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, is on its way to upstate New York. It will be featured in a performance by the Jobe/Redfearn Ensemble slated for Kingston, NY’s Festival of the Arts coming up Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.
It takes two to three people to operate the Bosch Hurdy Gurdy. “A hurdy gurdy is more or less a mechanical violin,’ says Jobe. “where the wheel replaces the bow, vibrating strings, but it’s also a one man band, with melody, rhythm and drones, all in one instrument. The Bosch is a real contra-bass version of the traditional instrument.” He believes it is the largest such instrument ever built.
The Ensemble brings together the aesthetics of two contrasting but complementary, award-winning composers: Rhode Islanders Steven Jobe and Alec Redfearn. Jobe spends most of his time writing operas, his current work being "The Legend of the Fairy Melusine." Redfearn, leader of the band The Eyesores, and key participant in several more, is recognized on both sides of the Atlantic for his prolific originality, “falling somewhere between psych-folk revival and free jazz, constructed from a diverse and unfashionable set of instruments including accordion,” commented a writer for Splendid magazine. Both composers are recipients of RI State Council on the Arts Artists Fellowships and numerous other project grants.
Besides the giant hurdy gurdy, the effect of which Jobe describes as “a primal hypnotic wave, Jobe/Redfearn features intriguing and colorful instrumentation -- accordion, violin, viola, cello and percussion. In addition, two guest vocalists, Ellen Santinello, with a background that includes opera, early and art music, and Gillian Chadwick, whose vocals range from rock to folk styles, will round out the absorbing, eclectic, impossible-to- categorize sound. Selections range from a dreamy art-song melody by Jobe entitled "Chartres," to a characteristically accordion-infused extravaganza by Redfearn, "Amoebiasis". Completing the ensemble are noted New England instrumentalists Rob Bethel, cello; Matt McClaren, percussion; Laura Gulley, violin, and Bosch crew, Chris Sadlers and Rachel Rosenkrantz. Their experiences include classical and experimental music, instrument making and rock bands.
Jobe/Redfearn Ensemble performs Saturday August 30 at 4 pm at the Old Dutch Church for one show only at the Kingston Festival of the Arts in Kingston, NY. Tickets are $20 and are available on line at http://kingstonfestival.org/buy-tickets or at the door. The Festival runs August 21 to 31.
The Artist, the Boar, and the Giant Hurdy Gurdy
In 2012, Warren, RI sculptor Cathleen Scanlan finished the sculpture of a huge boar’s head, carved in 3” thick, pegged together segments of aged, clear pine. It was commissioned by Steven Jobe, the Providence -based "composer, instrument builder, avant-garde cabaret master and all-purpose madman..” (Rick Massimo, Providence Journal) to complete a giant musical instrument. The boar is the finishing touch on the peghead of a huge hurdy-gurdy, inspired by a painting by Hieronymus Bosch.
The giant hurdy gurdy will be featured in a performance of the ecletic Jobe/Redfearn Ensemble at the Kingston Festival of the Arts. The group is slated to perform its’ highly original music for one show only on August 30 at 4 pm at the Old Dutch Church. Tickets are $20 and are available on Eventbrite at Kingston Festival of the Arts or at the door.
Scanlan has amassed years of experience since attending RISD where she had the chance to study with noted carver Arnold Prince; she works with her husband, Karl Dennis, carving special decorative and figurative embellishments for the violins and violas they build in their Warren, RI studio. Still, this boar, as boars are wont, presented certain challenges. “I never worked on a sculpture where I had to put it together in segments, carve it, THEN hollow it out, then separate the parts, plane them down to suit the changes in the wood, and then fit it back together. It was like building a topographical map! ”
“It’s great to bring the boar to Kingston,” said Jobe, “to an artist-driven festival, where collaboration is key and visual art, performance and music combine. It’s an emblem of the ‘soul’ of this dramatic instrument, and is certainly a work of art in itself.”
Jobe's first foray into outsize wheel-fiddles, The Drone Machine, was created in 1992 for his first opera, "Joan of Arc”. Then in 2001, drawing inspiration from the triptych, Millennium (aka The Garden of Earthly Delights) by Renaissance artist Hieronymus Bosch, Jobe conceived the notion of an even larger hurdy-gurdy. The "Bosch Hurdy-Gurdy" features Jobe's innovation of three wheels, each with a separate function: melody, rhythm (trompette) and bass drone. The initial design and construction was done by Providence artist Jeremy Woodward in 2002-03. In 2006, luthier Daniel Thonon completed the Bosch Hurdy-Hurdy at his workshop near Montreal. The Bosch has been used in workshop productions of Jobe’s “The Legend of the Fairy Melusine” and is due to appear in a concert premiere of the opera as part of First Works Providence in September 2014. The story of “Melusine” prominently features a wild boar.
For more information, contact Steve Jobe at 401-345-4320 or Kingston Festival of the Arts at 845-331-3261
WRIU-FM, Kingston, RI
Kingston Festival of the Arts
Jobe/Redfearn Ensemble (facebook)
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