(in development)


The Space Between will be a fully staged, choreographed performance work for string quartet. Composed by Lisa Renée Coons in collaboration with DeChiazza, for the renowned Spektral Quartet. The 75-minute piece will explore the physicality of contemporary musical material, the power dynamics of performance, and embodied sonification. It is a work in which the performance space will expand and contract to surround, seduce, and immerse the audience.

The Space Between is not a narrative, but rather a study of social dynamics – these human drives that are so effectively realized through physical performance: need, intimacy, playful exploration, a desire to belong and the collective pressures to conform. The musicians will wrap their arms around one another to create complex harmonics not possible with only two hands, they will move in mechanical unison through rhythmic scratch-tone passages, and they will mute one another’s instruments to manipulate or stop specific sounds.

The performance will be the culmination of a two-year collaboration between the multifaceted Chicago-based Spektral Quartet, director and designer Mark DeChiazza, and composer/sound artist Lisa Renée Coons. DeChiazza specializes in large-scale musical works, and Coons has done numerous spatial and movement-based sound works, including commissions for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and the American Composer’s Orchestra. The world premiere will be in February 2020 at the University of Chicago, with subsequent performances planned at Bowling Green State University and Detroit in spring 2020.

DeChiazza is developing the set: a cluttered, industrial world of translucent plastic membranes, stretched between upright metal booms. The Space Between will blur the boundaries of stage and audience. As a group, the performers will echo each other’s quiet gestures, while gradually collapsing into the maze of the space. The musicians find and touch each other, explore and push away from one another, connect and then experience erasure. The sonic palette will be broad, including a spectrum of noise [i.e. overpressure, bow noise, muted pizzicatos] to pseudo-tonal chorales, supporting physical gestures always be born of the movements needed to create sound. The climax of the work will include the stripping away of the set, allowing for the ensemble to gather unimpeded toward the climax, then slowly exit the texture, leaving only the cello playing in the now empty space.

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