Moon, Line, Shadow

Moon, Line, Shadow is intimate performance that places Arnold Schoenberg’s seminal work Pierrot Lunaire, featuring soprano Amber Evans, in musical dialogue with improvisations by Amalgama’s percussionist, Caitlin Cawley. This strange moonlit meeting occurs in tandem with an artistic installation created specifically for the event, in its first inception by Sarah Williams and Katie Bell. Moon, Line, Shadow is a multidisciplinary performance exploring the overlaps and divergences between different artistic languages and traditions.


Pierrot Lunaire tells the story of the moonstruck commedia dell’arte clown, Pierrot. Schoenberg’s 1911 masterpiece set a new path for music in the 20th century: it is known for Schoenberg’s use of the new vocal technique known as “sprechstimme,” which means a voice somewhere between spoken and sung, as well as its ensemble of disparate instruments that has since become a standard chamber music configuration. Today, this mixed instrument ensemble of strings and winds is often joined by percussion for other pieces in many styles. In this performance, this newest member of the “pierrot ensemble” will frame Schoenberg’s music, offering an improvised musical counterpart to the piece as well as an alternative voice with its own unique means of expression - an alternate universe version of the original sound world.

Percussionist Caitlin Cawley says of her role: “My goal is to explore the ideas and imagery of Pierrot though my own voice as a contemporary performing artist. Through intersection of percussion, theatre, movement, and technology which form the cornerstone of my improvisational practice, I hope to create a dialogue between Schoenberg’s iconic masterwork and the living, breathing world of improvised music today.”

The performance space curated by visual artists Katie Bell and Sarah Williams consists of a free-standing installation where shapes will be hung with a series of poles and strings. This installation will fold, bend, and expand along the contours of the musical composition. Of the process of producing this work, Williams writes: “As visual artists, Pierrot is first digested through progressions of color, texture, rhythm, light, line, and value—incidentally many of these words are common in musical vocabulary. Pierrot provides an opportunity to explore the overlapping languages of music and visual art particularly through the contrast between Schoenberg’s expressionistic text and his fascination with numerology. This combination of two diametric sensibilities—the soft and violent, logical and poetic, rigid and abstract—translates into physical forms: the piece becomes a contrast of malleable material with geometric structures, fuzzy shadows against sharp corners.”

Soprano Amber Evans, who last performed Pierrot two years ago in Cambridge, England, says of Moon, Line, Shadow: “I am very excited for this collaboration with Amalgama. It feels like returning to an old love in coming back to Schoenberg’s masterwork, and I couldn’t be more at home with any other musicians than this wonderful group of people. Sarah and Katie have come up with a truly inspired installation of moving parts that fold in and out of each other. Each piece is controlled externally in an intricate marionette design that is as seamless as the themes that are intertwined in the poetry—snippets without a distinct timeline of Pierrot, his past lovers, and his love-drunk affiliation with the moon.”