Review of Asterisk at Music 08 in Cincinnati: by Kyle Werner

After a short break, we headed to Werner Recital Hall for a 6:00 performance by Asterisk, a unique chamber ensemble including flute, oboe, bass trombone, and percussion.  To say that this group is multi-talented would be quite an understatement.  In addition to playing a variety of complex recent works, many from memory, they also incorporated narration, singing, scat-singing, audience participation, and lots of choreography.  The program included works by Elliott Carter, Fredrik Hoegberg, David Loeb, Christopher Berg, and Frederic Rzewski, as well as some settings of traditional Irish folksongs.  It seemed like there was something for just about everyone during this performance.  It juxtaposed things that we don’t usually see together - I had never seen an English Horn player do chorus-line leg kicks before.  Interestingly, all of these showy, extra-musical elements were not a cover-up for a lack of musicality.  These are truly top-notch instrumentalists; I must say, sometimes I almost wished they would just sit down and play more.  However, they clearly wish to bring an alternative concert experience to their audience, and that they did.

Review of Why Else Do You Have an English Horn? And Other Burning Questions in Birmingham: by Daniel Hurst

Usually when I go to a show, I have SOME idea of what’s coming next.  Here, I did not.  No clue.  And for that, I was grateful and routinely astonished.  The next piece was always a complete surprise...If originality should be cherished as a cardinal virtue as great in stature as flawlessness in artistry, then the Asterisk players should thrive.  I ask, who else could you work with in new and delightful ways?