Peggy Ahrens is really turning out the pieces these days, and the latest is called I LOVE YOU DYLAN THOMAS, IF BUT VICARIOUSLY. She and Bob Ashley performed it at Mills Nov. 23.
They walked out on stage and made it to the piano when Bob picked Peggy up and put her into the piano -- black satin dress/feather boa/big smile and all. The composer as vamp! Peggy immediately went into the tentillation of the piano top with a contact mike. Bob sat down and began to play LOUISVILLE LOU (a tune dear to Peggy's father /Steven Varbel/ and me, now).
There were lots of pickups inside the piano, so the sound was not your ordinary piano sound. Since the wires seemed to emerge from the composer's head, she became an electronic vamp. Soon Peggy's father (via tape) entered with "Louisville Lou", "Sweet Peggy O'Neil" (which includes the apt phrase, "full of rascality") and other home favorites of midwest homes. Bob went thru a period of providing what sounded like a drone made with rhythms to Peggy's father's singing (her mom's piano playing got lost in the den). Peggy with back to audience, lay inside the piano with toe pointed and serious expression (due to communications with the person doing the mixing -- Pat Kelly). There was a lot to mix. There were the piano pickups, the tape, Peggy's live singing and piano top sounds, and whatever else was happening that my N.Y.-Infected-Ear could not separate out.
Very exciting and gorgeously loud with floating feedback and "Louisville Lou" finally surfacing with composer dead in black satin. Very much alive, and sassily so, as Bob lifted her out of the machine and onto the stage -- bow and out. Beautiful.