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Lighten up the music

Krisztina Dér’s flute solo and light show performance last Thursday in UMBC’s Music Box, entitled “Flute/Light,” shifted the way audiences receive music. Inspired by the idea that the sound of music is influenced by our sight, Dér focused on different techniques with her flute style and complementary lights.

Dér, a UMBC alumnus, began the night by introducing herself, some of her colleagues who composed the pieces and an old classmate of hers who joined her on stage. During the first song, Dér and her fellow UMBC alumnus paired up; their instruments, flute and drums with xylophone respectively, beautifully matched each other to create a dramatic opening for the show.

The intensity of the light in the first part of the first song followed the sharpness of the notes Dér played. At the crescendo, a bright blue light would ebb and flow over the audience, giving a wonderful sapphire color to the cloud-shaped figures on the ceiling of the Music Box. During the second half of the song, the lighting transitioned from cool blue to warm, vibrant reds and oranges, energizing the performance.

The second song, more eerie than the first, began with no light. One by one, performers walked from either side of the audience, flashlights lighting their chins, to stand at the front of the room.

After they had all taken their spots before the audience, there was a pause, then chanting and minutes of silence. After what seemed like an eternity of awkward silence, the lights came on and the audience applauded.

The third song, in the same vein as the first, included varying warm colored lights. The artist’s intent was to emulate chasing elusive shadows. As the music steadily picked up, the fiery light slowly appeared. When the music swelled and reached a breaking point, the light grew bigger then shrank back into itself. With every crescendo, the light grew greater and smaller.

The performance effectively married sight and sound. The light patterns reflected the audience’s reaction to the music: at the sound of a beating drum, the light would quickly appear and disappear with the noise. The taps of the xylophone encouraged a small, fleeting light across the stage. Cymbals teased ceiling lights onto the audience.

While there were some odd moments during the performance, such as the long pause between the second and third song and the choice of lighting during the second song, the performance kept the audience engaged.

Each song ended with a mighty swell of applause that kept a grateful smile on Dér’s face. The event goers welcomed the alumni back with open arms and minds, supporting Dér’s project through even the more confusing and less lively moments.