When I was young, my family attended a church in Chandler where we would have a "Harvest Fest" on October 31, an alternative to the perceived Satantic nastiness of Halloween. I still got to dress as Superman; I still got to eat piles of sugary candy; and I still got to see my friends -- so I didn't mind.
But Otoacoustic Emmission, a yearly All Hallows' Eve celebration at St. Augustine's Episcopal Parish in Tempe, sounds like a much deeper, still quite gothic (in a classic sense) church-based celebration for the night.
"The Otoacoustic Emissions performance on Halloween night originated in 2008 as a commission from the Sollentuna Kyrka in Sweden, a 12th century church outside of Stockholm," says composer and organizer Jacob Adler, who also teaches Advanced Rhythm at ASU. "The music, consisting of drones on the harmonic series, was arranged for two organs, electronic sound, choir, fire, and masked devils. The church is surrounded by ancient graves, and the townspeople arrived on All Souls Day eve to meditate on life and death. The dynamics surge from very soft to deafeningly loud, and back down to soft again -- the drones are present before the audience arrives and after they leave. Performances are around 75 minutes or longer. The atmosphere is dark, candle-lit, incense-thick, and meditative."
"The inspiration for this musical experience has earlier roots in the just-intonated drone music of Lamonte Young," Adler says. "When I was living in Amsterdam from 2006-2008, I organized several performances of Young's Composition 1960 #7 which consists of two pitches a perfect 5th apart. These performances took place in huge, beautiful cathedrals in Amsterdam including the Krijtberg and the Oude Kerk - I accompanied various ensembles on multiple organs and amplified laptops. After every concert, I was contacted by at least one person in the audience that was deeply moved in some personal or spiritual way. Every performance is an intense, unforgettable experience for all involved."
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Adler, who also performs as part of the duo, Zeelab; art-pop with the group Integers Are For Counting, and "rabid zionist folk songs" Taraf Degrief, is employed as the organist at St. Augustine's. The performances make for a strange, haunting, and spiritual experience.
"The Otoacoustic Emissions concert has been held annually at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church on College/Broadway in Tempe since 2009," Adler says. "Every year is different because the constellation of performers and instruments is always evolving. I am currently looking for more musicians to participate this Halloween night..."