Brenda Hutchinson

Music Event

Saturday, November 21, 2020 | 7:00 PM PST
Mills College Performing Arts Online Event

Brenda Hutchinson smiles with their eyes closed, looking to the right. With gray gloves on, they holding a a long tube in their left hand and give a thumbs up with their right hand.

Mills Music Now
David Tudor Composer-in-Residence

Presented by the Mills College Music Department and the Center for Contemporary Music.

Covid Coping Mechanisms: A Virtual Variety Show

Working with a core group of students, staff and faculty from Mills College, we will produce an evening in which we explore virtual audience participation. Covid Coping Mechanisms: A Virtual Variety Show is a response to the Zoom experience, which flattens our expectations and interactions with each other as we sit alone in our private spaces. Through a series of performances and demonstrations, we will explore the possibilities of being together when we can’t actually be together in physical proximity.

As members of a virtual and disembodied audience, our participation has been confined to that of witness. We watch and listen to the media, but we have lost our connection with the rest of the audience. Think about watching movies in a crowded theater - While our main focus is on the screen, we also experience a visceral, communal connection with the rest of the audience. To the point of despair, we have been severed from the shared experience of focusing together within a social body.

The Virtual Variety Show is an experiment in reviving the sense of audience connection and participation that we have experienced in a live, shared, physical space. We invite the audience, when they are asked to participate, to actively engage with the performers.

The success of this evening will be based on mutual expectations and trust, as we attempt to breach that 4th wall of the screen by actually doing something together. Supplies to collect in advance: paper, a pair of coffee cups or shot glasses, sound makers, a warmed-up voice.

Ironically, at the conclusion of the live stream, the audience and performers will meet briefly on Zoom for the audience to share their creations and performances with each other. Please pre-register to present your creation/performance as a participant in the live interactive post-concert Zoom session.

If you are interested to participate in this sharing please fill out this registration form.

Brenda Hutchinson is a composer and sound artist. Through her work with large-scale experiments in socially based improvisations and interactions, Brenda Hutchinson has developed a body of work based on a perspective about interacting with the public and non-artists through personal, reciprocal engagement with listening and sounding. She has also been making sounds and singing into one end of a 9 1/2 foot Long Tube since 1990 and has developed a more bionic, electronically enhanced version of the Long Tube that she uses for both solo performance and to improvise with other musicians.

Brenda is the recipient of the Gracie Allen Award from American Women in Radio and Television and has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lila Wallace, McKnight Foundation, NY State Council on the Arts and Meet the Composer among others. Recordings of her work are available through TELLUS, Deep Listening, O.O. DISCS, Frog Peak Music and Leonardo Music Magazine. She has been an artist in residence at San Quentin Prison, Headlands Center for the Arts, Harvestworks, Exploratorium, Ucross and Djerassi.

My practice is based on the belief that most people would prefer to live in a world where we are recognized and heard. Common ground for all beings is rare. Sound offers such an opportunity. It is also ubiquitous, free of charge and accessible. Listening as a means of shared awareness and sound as the medium of opportunity for direct engagement with strangers are within the grasp and conscious volition of most people.

David Tudor Composer-in-Residence

The David Tudor Endowment at Mills College was established as a growing endowment by composer Gordon Mumma. The endowment provides a residency for composers and creative performing artists who exemplify the model of David Tudor's life and work.