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Concert Reviews

Vidna Obmana at the University of Hartford

Vidna Obmana made some rare US solo appearances in early November, 1998. Although I'm not too far away from Philadelphia, I was unable to attend his November 7th show at the Gathering hosted by Chuck van Zyl. So I burned a couple of vacation days and buzzed on up to the Wilde Auditorium in the Harry Jack Gray Center on the University of Hartford campus, West Hartford, Connecticut. Wilde Auditorium is an intimate 200 seater which was not completely filled, but the event was very well attended on November 10.

The stage was simply decorated with a large, rectangular Oriental rug and many tiny candles lining the front and back of the stage. Subdued but effective lighting and fog were provided by U of H students and Chuck van Zyl. Vidna Obmana was center stage with a very minimal amount of equipment. For you gear heads out there (like me!!), there was a rack of effects to Vidna's left (three reverbs and a looping device), Peter Gulch's D-50 to his right controlling a Nord Lead, and a mixer in front. Velcroed to the mixer were five CD players with custom CD-Rs for providing source sounds. These were mixed with live playing of the Nord and some acoustic sources; an ocarina, an Hungarian wooden flute, a shaker, and voice. Using the effects to record, loop, and place sounds in an environment is the simplistic description of the performance process. But the devices were tools in the hands of a master.

I wish I had been able to attend the Gathering. I also wish I had been in attendance of the University of Hartford show, too!! Physically I *was* there. But soon after the music started, I was immediately transported off to who knows what inner and outer dimensions. The music not only sent me on a journey, but was also the tether which kept me connected to normal time-space. For an hour and a half, I was at the mercy of the music, gleefully going where it sent me. Periodically, the musical tether gently pulled me back in, only to allow me to yo-yo back out again.

Vidna Obmana will be out of the performance limelight in the near future. Instead, he will be in the studio working on new material and performance techniques. I feel very fortunate to have been at one of the last shows he will do for a while. It was also a gas watching him soak in a little Americana (and a tuna melt!) after the show at a 24 hour diner as he chatted with Chuck and me.

Thanks, also, to Susan Mullis of WWUH-FM, West Hartford, Connecticut, for the studio tour, hospitality, and tee shirt!

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