Verdigris Ensemble takes off for new adventures with Nicholas Reeves Betty’s notebook, starting with a series of concerts before taking part in a national choir convention and releasing an album this spring. The choir will play Betty’s Notebook at the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas on February 18 and 19 and at the Texas Theater on February 20.
Creation of the Verdigris Ensemble Betty’s Notebook performing live in concert in 2019. The choral piece tells the story of a teenage girl, Betty Klenck, who hears what sounds like Amelia Earhart’s distress calls while listening to her family’s shortwave radio in 1937. Klenck has taken note while listening to the radio and his notebook is the source of Reeves’ choral work.
Although unable to perform on stage during the pandemic, the Verdigris Ensemble recorded and hit Betty’s Notebook as a non-fungible token (NFT) on the blockchain. In May 2021, it was auctioned on the Async Art platform for $375,000.
Having registered Betty’s Notebookthe set better understands the nuances of the music and the story.
“Basically, in terms of artistic and musical things, we now have a very good understanding of the piece. We revisit it with a whole new set of skills and awareness that we didn’t have before,” said Sam Brukhman, Artistic Director of Verdigris Ensemble.
Brukhman explains when the Verdigris Ensemble performed the piece in 2019, Betty’s Notebook was not really complete. The original jazz standards that Reeves composed to imitate the music Klenck would have heard in 1937 were not recorded in time for this first concert.
Now complete, the jazz standards set the sound of the era, creating a radio show vibe.
“I think it’s more relevant because jazz standards predestine and give symbolism to the story of Amelia Earhart and Betty’s notebook,” Brukhman said. “It’s a cohesive program that allows us to tell the story and bring people in gradually.”
The Verdigris Ensemble has been invited to play Betty’s Notebook and to present a session of interest on creative concert programming at the 2022 Southwestern American Choral Directors Association Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. More than 3,000 conductors are expected at the conference.
“It’s a huge honor for us,” Brukhman said. “This is the first time that we have performed in front of a national audience and a regional audience.”
Before the conference, the choir will perform Betty’s Notebook at Arkansas State University and will lead a workshop on the play with college students.
“Personally, I like working with college students. When we go to Arkansas State University, it will be a time when I can do workshops and talk with people and masterclasses. It’s the first time I’ve done this in a long time, since the pandemic started,” Brukhman said.
As part of the sale by NFT of Betty’s Notebook at Metapurse, a vintage 1930s wooden radio console was repurposed to include an LCD screen displaying digital art by EMMY-winning graphic designer Bryan Brinkman. The radio plays the last iteration of the programmable music track.
In November 2021, the Betty’s Notebook radio was exhibited at Metapurse’s Dreamverse in Terminal 5 as part of its NFT collection curated in New York.
“People were really surprised. It was next to Beeple and all the major crypto artists,” Brukhman said. “It was amazing to be in the same company as these people, especially because classical music doesn’t reach that kind of mainstream audience very often. It was great to have that kind of representation. I was very proud.
Later this spring, Verdigris Ensemble will be released Betty’s Notebook in album form. The vinyl album will be designed by Brinkman with five additional crypto artists creating artwork for jazz standards.
“He will have AR [augmented reality] capacities. So you can point a phone at it and it will animate off the page,” Brukhman said.
The Verdigris Ensemble plans to celebrate a landmark year beginning in September, commissioning new work and collaborating with other Dallas arts organizations.
“Next year is our fifth anniversary and we have quietly commissioned a composer by the name of Sahba Aminikia who will create a work called SHAMSsaid Brukhman. “We are very excited about this.”
Learn more: https://www.verdigrismusic.org/