Reflections on MAGfest 2017

Always do something that scares you …

The last few days at MAGFest are among the most artistically memorable and meaningful I could imagine. A year ago I discovered online the extraordinary artist Angela Bermúdez in Costa Rica, and began trying to think of a way we might collaborate. After seeing a video on her page of a live speed paint session, I had an idea….

First, a concert featuring the wonderful Videri String Quartet, oboist Kristin Naigus, percussionist Doug Perry and Laura Intravia. They would play a series of excerpts from four of my game scores (JOURNEY, THE BANNER SAGA, ASSASSIN’S CREED SYNDICATE and ABZU) while Angela created a painting combining visual elements from all 4 games. She *literally* created it from nothing in about 30 minutes!!!

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A crowd of nearly 1000 gathered to watch our concert / live speed paint

Next, the following day and in a more intimate setting, I would play piano, Laura would play flute and Doug would play percussion in a 100% improvised performance. Nothing was pre-discussed, planned, etc. But we weren’t just improvising from nothing though; we were reacting to Angela speed painting something ALSO ENTIRELY IMPROVISED.

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In the more intimate “Jamspace” setting, a packed room watch us fly by the seat of our pants

In other words, both music and painting were completely conceived in the moment. We would look at the canvas as it evolved and react, and so too would Angela react to the music. The ideas bounced back and forth until the painting and music naturally ended (In the photo here, the top one is the first night’s, and the bottom is the improvised one).

To share this moment with Angela is something I’ll never have the words for. Particularly in this weekend of solemn reflection, after losing my dear cousin Sonja Eisenberg at age 90. Sonja was also a painter, and all my deepest-held artistic convictions were born from knowing her, and her work. She completely changed my life at age 18, so it was a truly fortunate timing to share in so raw and vulnerable an experience with so gifted a painter. I’ll probably write more about Sonja in the future, but in the meantime a better catharsis I could never possibly have planned.

Sonja, this was for you.

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Sonja Eisenberg in her NYC studio

Written by

Professionally curious about music. Composer for Journey, Abzu, Erica, John Wick Hex, The Banner Saga 1–3, AC Syndicate, Tooth & Tail, etc. Fan of humanity!

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