Innova 632

Carei Thomas

Sound Window(s) V: Pinnacles



Window One:   Processional


Window Two:   Hidden Peaces


Window Three:   Proconstruction


Window Four:   Ibidem


Window Five:   Sisyphusian Arousal


Window Six:   Jy’laahorlx


Window Seven:   Turn Left, You Can’t Miss It


Window Eight:   Ariadne’s View


Window Nine:   Treasured Alliances



Inside Out

Ways of Seeing Compositional Thought and Musical Meaning

Inside the Music of Carei Thomas



It wasn’t until I studied architecture that I began to see windows more as metaphoric openings into other realms of the imagination.  From early habits of play through a lifetime of experiences, we all construct imaginary windows that connect personal, interior thoughts and memories to a much vaster perspective of time and history.  Things like culture and society often creep in to mediate our perceptions and occasionally assist us in comprehending and appreciating our shifting world.


Into this haunted house of uncertainties comes Carei Thomas with Sound Window(s) V, where we view – with eyes and ears- a pinnacle of experimental composition and spirited collaboration.


Nine sound windows frame an elegant interior in which five musicians reveal a variety of thoughts and memories, stories and songs.  They resonate with Carei’s imagination while showcasing an exteriority of richness and complexity.  The stellar assembly of musical collaborators gives these windows a sharp view of each and every sound - seeking what Carei calls “diverse plausible hypotheses” from a range of performative and improvisational strategies. 


Like a Gospel Holy Roller Party, these compositions draw narrative materials from non-linear, fractal-like formations of story and expression.  Interpretation and improvisation expand our view of time and space to where memory and experience become signifiers in a complex semiotic mix of language, sound and performance.


From ensemble orchestrations and colors as complex and intriguing as Charles Ives, to the elegance and interiority of the solos and chamber groupings, Carei’s music builds out from a highly personal and fiercely independent foundation to reveal new visions and perspectives.


In the first window Carei constructs a deep narrative of recompense and response from statements tossed out by the audience. Along the way we bump into characters like Mava and Raymond, who conjure up stories in fragments while suggesting the characteristics of instrumental textures and interrogative structure.


The spirit of Charles Ives, especially his urban mistiness of color and tonality, is alive and well in “Hidden Peaces”, with an abundance also of rich modernist influences from


Stravinsky and Ligeti to Monk and Braxton. Through another window percussive whistlings and alarms give way to a knocking music for violin and laptop computer

reminiscent of Penderecki.  This view reveals a violin and piano duo worthy of a fine romanticism steeped in memory and loss. 




Two of the windows reflect stunning solos of string ballet and wind spirit, while “Jy’laahorlx”, another sprit of Ives with more essentially distinct themes (somewhere between his theater sets and the Concord Sonata), can be viewed through multiple reflections. Digital delays and processed returns on technology investments can be heard through Sound Window 8.  One can see all the way back to Francis Bacon’s Sound Houses with a shading of the George’s Rochberg and Crumb, all informed by a laptop of underground commix and laptop relief.


Surprising the listener while invoking a deep resonance of time and memory, our individual perceptions give final shape to the contours of Carei’s music. Whether looking out through the vast musical possibilities or seeing ourselves through metaphorical windows, our ears are reconnected with our hearts and minds, through our memories and aspirations. 


At the end of a very adventurous journey we finally find ourselves gazing through these amazing windows, once again linking our capacity to construct meaning out of complex messages to our own spirit of adventure in life. Ultimately, we see ourselves as reflections of memory and compositional thought.  Viewing Carei Thomas’s evocative world, from inside out, in sound and vision, we come away with lasting musical images and a renewed spirit of the imagination. 



David Means



Sound Window(s) V  Design Explanation:


SOUND WINDOW(S) V is an experimental sound study using voice, poemmetry and acoustic-electronic instrumentation for a quartet ensemble (Carei Thomas – Piano; Gary Schulte – Violin; Steve Goldstein – Laptop Electronics; and Douglas Ewart – Reeds).  Sound Window(s) V was augmented with a cellist and synesthetic computer graphic performance painting.  Douglas Ewart was unable to make this concert.  Patrick O’Keefe took his place.  Each of the “windows” were peered through by its neighboring self/selves in a kaleidoscopic linear/dynamic way. 


This concert explored an improvisational concept I call “Brief Realities;” an everchanging series of purely invented music often spiced with cells or fragments of written material.  I feel this improvisational concept gives performers a structure that defines and focuses content while offering a broad choice of source material harmonically, temporally, dynamically and culturally.  Within this tonal order, invention/improvisation ignites the developmental process that creates the true composition (and allows it to remain everchangingly fresh).  I want to utilize composition in fresh ways (ever going back and forth chronologically in pendulum motion), uniting that which was with the ever-present possibilities of “now time/real time.”  My Brief Reality compositions seek out and call for exemplary instrumentalists to infuse or accommodate fabric or material that organically develops out of inclusion.


“Poemmetry” is a spatial-kinetic-music-word concept.  It is using words, phrases and onomatopoetic expressions in conjunction with larger developed works of poetry.  The participants can take on varying formations (dyads, triads, etc.).  Poemmetry utilizes poetry and the audience in making the compositional fabric work.  This is similar to the way fragments of written musical material hold “brief realities” together (like a kind of skin or connective tissue).  My interest is to elevate the listening audience to some experiential place where emotions are readily juxtaposed by sound and etymological word content (vernacular reconstruction).


Biographical Information for Sound Window(s) V:


Carei Thomas, the founder of Sound Window(s), is a pianist, composer, and educator. Carei has been associated for a number of years with the music, literary, visual arts, dance, recovery, neighborhood and Buddhist communities of the Twin Cities.  He is known throughout the arts community for his spiritual energy, interdisciplinary vision and creativity.  Carleton Macy, Music Professor at Macalester College, said, “Carei brings with him an infectious sense of community and unity of purpose which is likewise communicated in his music.”

Gary Schulte, an acknowledged master of improvisation, is in the forefront of jazz violin and performance composition.  A veteran of A Prairie Home Companion, he gigs regularly with The Twin Cities Hot Club and has created and performed music with a wide variety of artists, including David Byrne, dancer Maria Cheng, Theatre de La Jeune Lune, and Ballet of the Dolls.  He is a performance graduate of Indiana University School of Music, where he studied with renowned concert artist Ruggierro Ricci.

Steve Goldstein is a 1997 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant recipient and studied under Dr. Stephen Solum.  He has performed professionally as an acoustic/electronic percussionist throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. 

Patrick O’Keefe is a clarinetist, co-artistic director for Zeitgeist and an active proponent of contemporary, classical, free improvisation and world music.  He has degrees from Indiana University, the New England Conservatory, and the University of California – San Diego. 

Jacqueline Ferrier-Ultan is a cellist and has been an active performer and teacher in the Twin Cities area since 1987.  She is a freelance studio player and has performed in a variety of festivals, theaters and music series.

Steven Linsner is a videographer who lives in South Minneapolis.  For the past 4 years, he has documented many of Carei Thomas’ performances as well as those of many other Twin Cities performers.  Currently, he is developing real-time, improvisatory, computer graphic painting as visuals for music, poetry and dance.