Innovative ensemble performs at WKU

Hilary Abigana, flute, C. Neil Parsons, bass trombone, and Greg Jukes, percussion, of “The Fourth Wall,” performed in the fine arts center on Friday.

Taylor Harrison

“The Fourth Wall Ensemble” brought hybrid arts, which includes dancing, instrumental music and theatre, to WKU last Friday.

The performers, Hilary Abigana, C. Neil Parsons and Greg Jukes, danced around the stage while playing instruments and incorporating theater and literature into their show.

Their first piece, “L’Histoire du Soldat de Jouet,” which means the history of the toy soldier, started with a narrative explaining a love triangle between three toys, followed by dancing and a musical interpretation.

Parsons, the ensemble’s bass trombone player, said they chose the hybrid arts because, although they are all classically trained musicians, they also enjoy theater and dance.

“It’s really refreshing to have the opportunity to do something that is more open-ended and unpredictable,” Parsons said.

The first half of the performance consisted of duets and trios, while the second half focused on solo performances and audience interaction.

One solo, “Masks,” performed by Abigana, featured jerky, almost painful dance movements while the music she played on her flute sounded frantic.

In the second half, the ensemble performed “Tabloid,” a humorous piece that featured Abigana and Jukes reading local news stories while Parsons played his trombone.

Heidi Alvarez, associate professor of music, said the ensemble performed at WKU in January at the Flute Society of Kentucky Festival and she really wanted to bring them back.

“They’re innovative and it’s just not like any other concert that you would ever go to,” she said. “They’re incredibly creative and I like the way they integrate all of the arts with what they’re doing.”

The finale was a compilation of music from 1972-73. As they played, they encouraged the audience to clap and sing along to the familiar songs.

One audience member, Calvert City junior Daniel Brashear, said the performance was mind-blowing and fresh.

“Usually, performances here are essentially all music,” he said. “This is really almost pioneering The mixture of music, dancing, theater and literature, it’s just really visionary.”

Brashear also said it was amazing how each performer did many different things well and conveyed all of them effectively.

Parsons said the group had to get comfortable with the spontaneity of the hybrid arts, and it can still be scary.

“I find that it kind of works best when I don’t have a real clear plan in mind,” he said.

The venue and the audience they are playing for influences the performance, Parsons said.

“If the audience responds in a certain way, I want to let that become part of the piece whenever possible,” he said.