Line Upon Line Percussion returns to UT for a socially distant live concert

Line Upon Line
Line Upon Line Percussion. From left: Cullen Faulk, Adam Bedell and Matthew Teodori.

It’s not exactly the homecoming the Line Upon Line Percussion trio imagined.

Adam Bedell, Cullen Faulk and Matthew Teodori were still graduate students at the University of Texas Butler School in 2008 when they formed their ensemble. Since then, they’ve traveled the country and the world, working with composers who are at the cutting edge of adventurous new music. And while Line Upon has been back to teach once in 2018, the now critically-acclaimed trio has yet to return to UT for a public concert.

Until the coronavirus pandemic, that is.

On Dec. 17 and 18, Line Upon Line will perform in the new Texas Big Top, a tented outdoor temporary venue set up on the plaza of the Bass Concert Hall. The Big Top is the pandemic work-around of Texas Performing Arts, UT’s performing arts presenting program. Capacity  is limited and audience members sit in two-person pods that are at least six feet apart.

“It’s not exactly the circumstances we imagined that would bring us back to UT,” says Teodori, Line Upon Line’s executive and artistic director. “But here we are.”

Usually on a peripatetic trail of residencies and concerts, the trio saw its busy schedule of travel and performing come to screeching halt when COVID-19 shut down the world. Since then, they’ve opted for a more thoughtful approach, presenting a few things virtually, but otherwise not filling up the bandwidth with digital programs just to fill up the bandwidth.

Related: From a distance, Line Upon Line Percussion musically connects in 90-second bursts

What Line Upon Line has done is to continue working with composers, using part of the organization’s COVID-trimmed budget to commission a couple of new pieces.

“Sentience,” by Kelley Sheehan, is written for objects, snare drums and recording tape, and there’s an intentional  dialogue between the acoustic instruments, the recorded sound and the carefully mediated space between.

Isaac Blumfield’s “Sunken Landscape: thread of light” considers the unseen web of wires that physically make up the internet that carry, the composer says “our experiences, conversations, hopes, dreams, and intimate secrets from one continent to another (and)  bind the world together in this strange, beautiful, and terrifying way.”

Also on the program is the U.S. premiere of “decoder.” Each musician is equipped with, and performs on, an electric MIDI drum pad, and a digital performance directive arbitrarily decides what sounds are produced and how they are manipulated.

Says Teodori: “I think this year, and the pandemic, has only solidified for us that we have to make new things, make new music — and play it live with an audience. It might seem illogical now, but for us it’s really, really important.”


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Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is an arts and culture journalist who has covered visual art, performance, film, literature, architecture, and just about any combination thereof. She was the staff arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman for 17 years. Her commendations include the First Place Arts & Culture Criticism Award from the Society for Features Journalism. Additionally, Jeanne Claire has been awarded professional fellowships at USC’s Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and NEA/Columbia University Arts Journalism Institute. In 2022, she was awarded the Rabkin Prize in visual art journalism. Jeanne Claire founded and led Sightlines, a non-profit online arts and culture magazine that reached an annual readership of 600,000. And for two years, she taught arts journalism at the University of Texas College of Fine Arts. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Architecture magazine, Dwell, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Art Papers, and ICON design magazine, among other publications.