By Fred Parvaneh
A special musical performance ushered in the Persian New Year in Santa Monica this year. The Iranian-American vocalist and composer Sussan Deyhim and the American composer and trumpeter Ben Neill teamed up inside the Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center.
Their performance, “Interconnectivity,” was staged in a gallery exhibition of paintings by the Venice-based artist Andy Moses (whose father is the abstract painter Ed Moses).
“Andy I met in the early ’90s in New York City,” Deyhim told Kayhan London in an interview. “We were lucky to experience some of the best moments of the conceptual art and music scenes in the city. Experimentation was a shrine, and we still believe in it to this day.”
“I was happy to perform some of my more composerly abstract works in his visual space,” she added.
The evening began with a meet and greet between artists and attendees, which included some established Los Angeles’ art patrons. Sussan Deyhim performed first, and sang excerpts from her solo electronic compostion “Vocodelicks” (which will be performed in full at the Aga Khan Museum in June). She also sang songs from her “House is Black” media project, based on the poems of the late Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad.
After a brief intermission, Ben Neill performed music from his “Horizontal” album, inspired by Andy Moses’ paintings, with interactive video projections emulating the notes he played on his modified trumpet, known as the ‘mutantrumpet.’
“I have known Andy Moses since the early 1990s when he lived in New York, and always enjoyed his art,” Neill said after the concert. “When I saw his show of horizontal striped paintings on curved surfaces in 2006, it really inspired me. The way the paintings seemed to imply movement and to demonstrate processes in nature, as well as their powerful use of minimal forms, resonated strongly with my approach to composition and performance of live electronic music.”
Eric Minh Swenson’s video captures the collaborative magic of Deyhim, Neill and Moses: