The Lost & Found Orchestra's Pandemonium | Memorial Auditorium | Stage | Indy Week
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The Lost and Found Orchestra

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The Lost and Found Orchestra

The Lost & Found Orchestra's Pandemonium 

When: Sept. 29-Oct. 3 2010
Price: $30, $15 students

Attach 24 low-gauge wires to a steel bed frame, adjusting their individual tensions until the strings cover two octaves when struck. Call it a "bed bass." For kettle drums, use actual kettles: a series of 40-gallon industrial cooking vats with Kevlar sailcloth stretched tightly over the top. Substitute bowed wood saws (one with the name Stradivarius etched onto its blade) for strings; a set of bellows-driven PVC pipes extending three stories above stage as an organ, and odd amalgamations of garden hose, surgical scaffolding and—alert Joseph Carnevale—orange traffic barriers as the brass section. Fill out the rest of the ensemble with vacuum cleaners, filing cabinets and equally improbable hybrids formed from bicycles, bottles, glasses, balloons, radiator pipes and other hardware store miscellanea.

The Lost and Found Orchestra is probably the ultimate expression in musical recycling: an ensemble of highly skilled musicians playing instruments ingeniously formed out of repurposed workplace and kitchen matériel. It's also the latest expression in full-tilt, full-stage busking from composers Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. After a draconian recording contract barred the two from performing and recording anything except percussion in 1991, the two ex-street performers dreamed up STOMP, the long-running-and-touring urban rhythm spectacular that celebrates its 20th anniversary next year.

Though the LFO was a hit in Sydney in 2007, after a premiere the year before in England, critics in Miami who were clearly anticipating something on the order of Stomp 2 were a bit nonplussed at the relatively lower testosterone levels in the new work at the start of the group's North American tour last week.

But where Stomp pursued percussion by any means possible, Pandemonium applies the same concept to creating an entire orchestra. An ensemble of 35 musicians—plus clowns and aerialists called in to play the multistory instruments—joins a chorus of local vocalists in animating alternative instrumentation. What P.D.Q. Bach composer Peter Schickele and Spike Jones once did for laughs—and George Antheil and Harry Partch dared in pursuit of muses more obscure—Cresswell and McNicholas engage to explore, once again, the most extreme aesthetic possibilities embedded in the everyday. Recommended. —Byron Woods

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