Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Revealing Ron Mazurek

On May 29th, ICIA (International Composers & Interactive Artists) celebrated the memory of composer Ron Mazurek, who passed away quite suddenly on April 26th. ICIA sponsored a memorial concert that provided a framework for understanding the scope of Ron's work and the depth of our loss.

Over the years I have followed Ron's ascent as a composer. He was comfortable with traditional musical settings, but as he explored electronic media, new ideas erupted in a virtual cornucopia of new multimedia works, all exploring musical expression on a basic, elemental level as Ron found and developed his personal voice. Little by little, these works, often in collaboration with other artists, accrued as a body of work that was impressive and original. In addition to these striking musical achievements, he is highly regarded as a pioneering artist in collaborating with choreographers to create telematic dance of imaginative beauty.

Ron had a special way of interfacing with his collaborators, bringing out the best in them, urging them beyond the boundaries of their previous achievements and arriving at a new place in their artistic development. The work of those collaborators inspired Ron to establish a deeper awareness of his purpose and his work. My own work was in parallel with Ron's vision, and it was his encouragement that often helped me on to other projects. He had a way of providing a perspective that made obstacles dissolve in the face of creative process as a natural unfolding of ideas that were the inevitable outcome of a practical resolution, always there and always available.

On May 29th, we had an opportunity to hear Ron's work in a new context, with the years gathered together in a single evening and his recent achievements sitting atop the edifice of his other work, making a monument of one miracle after another. Although I had heard some works before, there were also works I never knew that filled in missing links to Ron's steady growth as a composer. Every work was exploration of original terrain. Every work was genuine and honest, nothing pretentious...as down to earth as the roots that grounded Ron both in his native New Jersey and his Polish heritage.

The crowning achievement was his recent string quartet Mai Timise, now premiered by the Lumina String Quartet for the world as a tour de force, original and inventive, inspiring because of its sheer beauty and brilliantly couched in a command of materials demanding virtuosity, insight, and poetic sensitivity.

Having experienced his work incrementally in the past, I appreciate that in those years I was privileged to witness the emergence of Ron Mazurek as an important composer and multimedia artist. It is also a testament to his authenticity that his sudden departure created a vast emptiness quickly filled by the embrace of family, friends, and colleagues who reached out to each other with a fierce devotion to all that he has meant to each of us. This memorial concert revealed Ron in the full luster of his achievements, transcending the past in the unpretentious presence of a mature artist fully secure in his sensibility as an original voice who remains with us even now.

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