Maine rivers don’t just flood, they inspire art

BDN Maine
Living
April 18, 2017

Patty Wight | Maine Public Visiting artist Rinde Eckert (right) works with students during a rehearsal.

Patty Wight | Maine Public
Visiting artist Rinde Eckert (right) works with students during a rehearsal.

Students of theater, music, and art at the University of Southern Maine may share similar areas of creative interest, but they tend to focus on their own media. In the past few months, that’s changed.

The students have been collaborating on a theater production that explores how Maine’s waterways have shaped its history. The show, “Molded by the Flow,” opens Friday in Lewiston.

The name not only reflects the content of the show, it’s also a metaphor for how it was created. It’s what’s called devised theatre, where producers toss aside the typical predetermined script and instead form a show from improvisation and collaboration.

It’s an approach that senior Cameron Prescott, a major in music performance, was not used to.

“I was very, uh, apprehensive about the whole thing. As a performer, I like everything under control and prepared. It took me time to realize that this isn’t that,” he says.

Two visiting artists, Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert, guided the students in creating the show, which is described as a “poetic, visual, and musical narrative” that explores the relationship between Maine’s waterways and its history. Eckert says it’s about how streams shaped the landscape and formed rivers, the power of which was harnessed by mills, and how that water flowed out to the ocean, which has its own power, and created centers of culture and community through its ports.

Rinde's writing on The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center
Just did my debut at the Kennedy Center in the intimate and handsome Family Theater. I was gratified to see the place almost full. I was the first concert in the series (curated by the remarkable Renée Fleming), and, perhaps, the farthest out of the five (Billy Childs, Jane Monheit, Leslie Odom Jr., Alan Cumming, and me). So I felt I needed to usher the audience into my world with care. Started off with my classical male alto at its most medieval, headed into something operatic but on a folk-like melody, then picked up a foot-long section of galvanized pipe and started blowing a rhythmic riff, and singing my version of the old spiritual Gospel Plough.
We were far afield now, so I brought them home again with a new arrangement of Black is the Color with a synth accompaniment, and a French melodie from 1913 by Reynaldo Hahn on a poem by Théophile de Viau, singing and doing my best impression of an accompanist at the same time. I followed that with a somewhat skewed (and, I think, touching) arrangement of Nun Danket Alle Gott. Then I turned to the guitars and ukuleles. The audience seemed up for the adventure, so we just sailed along after that, moving from genre to genre and instrument to instrument until my hour and a half was up. Ended with a thing called Prayer, a kind of piano chorale under a falsetto melody. Here are the words: 
When out of ignorance we forget how alike we are
Have mercy, have mercy upon us
When out of greed we forget to care for one another
Have mercy, have, mercy upon us
When out of fear we forget what makes us human
Have mercy , have mercy upon us
Let us pray for a day when we may understand
Let us pray for a day when we may be a wiser people

Review: ‘Aging Magician,’ a Fable Complete With Complexities

The New York Times
By Anthony Tommasini
March 9, 2017

Harold, a middle-aged, solitary sad sack, earns his living making and repairing clocks. What really consumes him, though, is the children’s book he has been writing for years, about an aging magician who must pass on his Book of Secrets to a receptive child, a magician heir. But before he can do so, the magician collapses and is rushed to a hospital.

How should Harold end the story? And why is he finding it so difficult? He shares his crisis in the poignant, entrancing "Aging Magician," at the New Victory Theater, the invaluable company that presents family-oriented entertainment...

BWW Review: Experience the Timeless Magic of the New Vic's THE AGING MAGICIAN

by Kristen Morale
March 7, 2017

I am sometimes amazed by how brilliant some people in this world are, especially when it comes to bringing exciting and downright mesmerizing pieces of art to the stage - because a production that has the power to make people come together in such unanimous awe can only be described as art. When this can be said of a children's show no less, it is even more admirable, and I have the greatest confidence that all who see The Aging Magician at the New Victory Theater will be shocked by how shockingly beautiful this show is.

And when I say beautiful, it is an understatement to describe what, exactly, makes this so memorable a concept and performance. With a plot as intricate as the gears of a clock and meant for both those who have much or little time ahead of them, The Aging Magician, like a magic trick itself, is a little bit elusive, requires a little bit of personal insight, but does not beg for more than the audience's belief to make it truly something of a wonder.

Rinde Eckert performs RIN: Tales from the Life of a Troubador at The Kennedy Center (review)

Rinde Eckert performs RIN: Tales from the Life of a Troubador at The Kennedy Center (review)

February 7, 2017
By Susan Galbraith
DC Theatre Scene

"...Just as he defies categorization of music styles or voice techniques, Eckert blurs all lines between creator and interpreter. Many performance artists are known for attempting this, but what makes him exceptional is that he is so darn good in all aspects of music-theatre..."

Review: ‘RIN: Tales From the Life of a Troubadour’ Starring Rinde Eckert at The Kennedy Center

DC Metro Theater Arts
by David Friscic
February 7, 2017

"...Mr. Eckert’s iconoclastic 'performance art' style always produced the unexpected..."

The acclaimed writer, composer, librettist, physician, performer, and director Rinde Eckert delighted and amazed the crowd on Friday evening at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. Eckert allowed the audience to enter his seemingly hermetically sealed world of musical language, comedic riffs, rare instrumentals, and anecdotal tales.

Mr. Eckert is the recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award as well as several Drama Desk Awards. He certainly captured the crowd’s attention with amazing verbal wordplay, singing in the highest of registers and playing several musical instruments...

Rinde Eckert. Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

Rinde Eckert. Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

Review: ‘RIN: Tales From the Life of a Troubadour’ Starring Rinde Eckert at The Kennedy Center

DC Metro Theatre Arts
By David Friscic
February 7, 2017

The acclaimed writer, composer, librettist, physician, performer, and director Rinde Eckert delighted and amazed the crowd on Friday evening at the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater. Eckert allowed the audience to enter his seemingly hermetically sealed world of musical language, comedic riffs, rare instrumentals, and anecdotal tales.

Mr. Eckert is the recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award as well as several Drama Desk Awards. He certainly captured the crowd’s attention with amazing verbal wordplay, singing in the highest of registers and playing several musical instruments...

Insightful Reviews of Schick Machine, with text and direction by Rinde Eckert

Insightful Reviews of Schick Machine, with text and direction by Rinde Eckert

Steven Schick at the Peacock in the Paul Dresher Ensemble production of Schick Machine. | Credit: Chi Wang


What’s inside a Schick Machine? There are diagrams and equations, drawn on butcher paper; huge metal sculptures, balls, and hoops, and bells. A deconstructed pipe organ in the shape of a sunburst — called the Peacock — dominates the space. Somehow, Laszlo Klangfarben dreams, these mechanisms will work together in harmony, reconciling past and future, large and small.

Rinde Eckert, Alessandro Sciarroni reviews: Scattered remains

Avant garde theater artist and dazzling jugglers close TBA festival

Oregon Artswatch
By Brett Campbell
October 2, 2016

“There certainly is a lot of stuff here,” Rinde Eckert mused aloud as he gazed around the cluttered stage at the outset of My Fools, his retrospective show that highlighted the closing night of this year’s Time Based Arts Festival. Framed by a desk on one end and a piano on the other, the stage at Portland’s Winningstad Theater boasted costumes, props of various species, a projection screen, MacBook, rows of little cards mounted on sticks that he carried to each “station” on the stage as he performed there, and above all a wide array of musical instruments. All attested to the New York based solo performer’s vast range of skills and artistic creations. For the next hour, we wondered: with all that stuff strewn about, what was he going to do next?

Rinde Eckert performed at Portland’s TBA festival.

Rinde Eckert performed at Portland’s TBA festival.

If anyone is entitled to a Greatest Hits show, it’s Eckert, the supremely versatile singer/writer/instrumentalist/performer/director who, over three decades and more than five dozen works (averaging two per year) has been making some of the era’s most original performance art. We soon realized that the busy stage was meant to evoke the multidisciplinary artist’s fecund career, and possibly his richly furnished mind. So, yes, a lot of stuff indeed...

Concert Review: Rinde Eckert delivers a display of his versatility

The composer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist offers comic and operatic touches at a USM show.

Portland Press Herald
By Allan Kozinn
September 4, 2016

GORHAM — The University of Southern Maine has an unusual cross-disciplinary project in the works for its new academic year, and on Saturday evening the school presented a concert by the composer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Rinde Eckert as a glimpse of what’s in store.

Eckert, who lives in New York and is an estimable figure in the avant-garde music-theater world, will be working with his frequent collaborator, the San Francisco-based composer, guitarist and drummer Paul Dresher, as well as the students, faculty and staff of the university’s music, theater and art departments, on a new work to be presented in April...