Felix Obelix

the musical brainchild of Wendy Spitzer
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    November 10th, 2016adminUncategorized

    Hi everyone,
    You’ll forgive me if I’ve been quiet here, as I spent the better part of 2016 researching, writing and performing a dissertation at Goldsmiths, University of London, in support of my Master of Music degree in Creative Practice. Entitled, Trust Them With Your Weird and Strange Notes: An Arts-Based Research Perspective on Vulnerability and the Social Dynamic in Creative Collaboration, I explored how the social dynamic and issues of risk, trust, and vulnerability play out when people collaborate on creative projects. Using an arts-based methodology, I teamed up with Genevieve Dawson, Nour Emam and Barnabas Poffley, writing music collaboratively with each, which we performed live on the 8th of September, 2016. In the research component of the roject, I developed a theoretical framework for how interpersonal dynamics impact collaborations and a few best practices for people working collaboratively.

    I’ve done some mammoth projects in my time, but this one kind of took the take. I’m happy to report it was awarded DISTINCTION (i.e., for you non-Brits, a really high grade), and that I’m graduating overall with distinction. I’m reworking the dissertation a bit to see if it can be published as a journal article, but if you’re interested in reading it now, shoot me an email (felixobelix [at] gmail.com) and I’ll send you a copy. Video from the performance is forthcoming…

    Here are some still photographs from the sessions. Thanks to my advisor, Dr Lisa Busby, for her guidance through this process, and of course to Gen, Nour, and Barny, without whom I would not have been able to have done this. Lastly, I return to North Carolina, US of A in mid-December, so I’ll see you stateside for more Felix Obelix shenanigans (an academic term), in 2017! xxx Wendy

    me + Genevieve, in collaborative songwriting.
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    me + Nour, exploring improvisation with acoustic instruments and live electronics
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    me + Barnabas, aka ‘rhythm study’ – explorations in meter manipulation in instrumental tunes
    barny-wendy-still001

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    January 26th, 2016adminUncategorized

    Finally got video of ‘Church of Bones’ –  one of the choir pieces I was commissioned back in spring 2015. This is the European premiere, at the New Music Ensemble December Concert, Goldsmiths University, London.

    The performers:
    Felix Obelix (i.e., me!) – conductor!
    Stirling Copeland – piano
    Callum Speed – bass
    Henry O’Brien – bass (+soloist)
    Rem Berger – tenor
    Nicholas Stuecklin – tenor
    Grace Lee – alto
    Catarina dos Santos – alto
    Mathilde Bataille – alto
    Anna Gunn O’Connor – soprano
    Emma Clark – soprano
    Maria Magnusdottir – soprano

    If you are interested in performing this piece, please email: felixobelix [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for watching!

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    December 11th, 2015adminUncategorized

    The European premiere of one of my choral pieces, ‘Church of Bones’ will happen tonight at 7:30pm in the Great Hall of Goldsmiths, University of London as part of the New Music Ensemble concert. I’m conducting and the performance will be accompanied by a projection of my photographs of the Sedlec Ossuary (Kutna Hora, Czech Republic). Thanks to the NME, to the choir (Henry O’Brien, Callum Speed, Nicholas Stuecklin, Rem Berger, Mathilde Bataille, Grace Lee, Catarina dos Santos, Emma Clark, Anna Gunn O’Connor and Maria Magnusdottir) and the pianist Stirling Copeland, for all their hard work and enthusiasm. The show is free, Londoners!

     

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    October 9th, 2015adminUncategorized

    FO fans and acquaintances and spambots whose programs have programmed them to come here:

    I’ve relocated to London for 2015-2016 for a graduate programme (a MMus in Creative Practice at Goldsmiths, University of London), which means new tracks, new performances, and fish-and-chip-inspired nightmares. I do plan at some point to officially release the two tunes for high school choir premiered last spring, but in the meantime, I want to remind you of some anniversaries:

    The Ringtone Album is two years old now, solidly walking around and mouthing off like all two-year-olds. I’ve been told by several humans that their own two-year-old humans really like this record: catchy and weird and each song just a minute long, perfect for toddler attention spans. Originally intended as a series of songs for your cellphone to ring with, people no longer care about ringtones, and the tunes are taking on a new life as podcast/TV bumper music. If you’re a person looking for 10 seconds of exactly this for your podcast or TV show or commercial, please shoot me an email (felixobelix [at] gmail).

    The Tick of the Clock, the Beat in the Chest – The first Felix Obelix album, now five years old, has started kindergarten and has its own fully-fledged personality. My emotions towards this album are very complex, as my personal life exploded shortly after its release. In freefall from that, I didn’t have much heart to push it in the way it deserved, but listening now after all this time, I am still very proud of this record (and appreciative of the small army of musicians it took to pull it off). This is a “pop” record, or perhaps more precisely, an “unpop” record. For fans of those who explore the relationship of time and death to memory.

    Both can be listened to here: https://felixobelix.bandcamp.com/music or via all the regular channels of almighty internet.

    xoxo,

    Wendy

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    April 13th, 2015adminUncategorized

    I’ve been working with Ethan Chessin and the good young people of Camas High School in Camas, Washington, long-distance from Prague via Skype. Two of Camas High School’s choirs will be premiering two commissioned pieces I wrote specifically for them, this Saturday at the First Congregational Church in downtown Portland, Oregon (USA). If you’d like to attend, the address is 1126 SW Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205 and the concert starts at 7pm. The concert is part of a project called Joined Forces, in which composers were commissioned to write unusual pieces for high school choir. I wrote one piece about teenage female aggression called “Braid Your Hair Tight” specifically for the Treble Ensemble (women’s choir), and another SATB piece about the Sedlec Ossuary outside of Kutna Hora, Czech Republic called “Church of Bones”. Listen to an NPR story about the project here:

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    December 8th, 2014adminUncategorized

    So awhile back, Felix Obelix was commissioned to write some music for high school choir. I am lucky to be working with Camas High School (Camas, Oregon), and their great director, Ethan Chessin. I Skyped from Prague with the choirs there in November and had a blast talking with them. I’m currently working on a piece for mixed choir and another for women’s choir and first readings are slated to happen in January 2015. This is another new adventure for Felix Obelix, but the process of writing songs for these voices and these ages is proving to be really exciting and challenging. I can’t wait to hear what it sounds like! Lots of work for me this December, but absolutely worth it. What will Felix Obelix lyrics sound like coming out of the mouths of talented Oregonian teenagers? Stay tuned – if all goes according to plan, the pieces will be premiered in April of next year!

    xoxo, Wendy

     

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    May 24th, 2014adminUncategorized

    Diehard Felix Obelix enthusiasts may remember that I traveled to northern Michigan in January 2013 to write a score to the 1911 stop-motion animated classic, The Cameraman’s RevengePolish-Russian animator Ladislas Starewicz created this genius piece of short film in 1911, in which insects (real insects) find themselves involved in extramarital affairs. It stands the test of time for its craftsmanship and humor, and I thank the Institute for Sustainable Living and Natural Design (ISLAND)’s Hill House residency program for the opportunity to write this score in the splendor of the Michigan wilds.

    Now, after a few revisions, it is finally time to debut the score live. I’ll be playing the piano, and will be joined by Felix Obelix stalwarts Josh Starmer (cello) and Missy Thangs (organ). The two performances are:

    • at the Strange Beauty Film Festival, on the afternoon matinee block, 2pm on Saturday, June 14, 2014. This festival sells out every year, and is beautifully curated by Jim Haverkamp and Joyce Ventimiglia. This is not the first time Felix Obelix has presented a film/music offering at Strange Beauty, and I’m delighted to be part of it again. Buy tickets here.
    • at the farewell Billy Sugarfix/Wendy show at the Cat’s Cradle Backroom, 8pm on Saturday, June 21, 2014. This really will start early, so get there early! Billy will be telling stories and playing songs with his new band, along with some other storytelling-songwriters of local repute. Going to be fun! And yes, this is a farewell show, as Billy and I are moving to the Czech Republic at the end of June.

    That’s right: Felix Obelix is relocating to the Czech Republic until at least June 2015. I fully plan to continue writing music, and even have a commission to write a piece for high school chorus (!) later this year. But as far as local-to-North-Carolina performances, those will end on the 21rst of June.

     

     

     

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    March 3rd, 2014adminUncategorized

    Deep Dish Theater Company in Chapel Hill, NC presents the Tom Stoppard play Arcadia, playing now through March 22, 2014. I was approached to do the score to the play, which is all piano-based, and wrote and recorded it within the span of just a week. The play is fascinating in that it switches between 1809 and the present, and I was tasked with writing music for both periods, and at the end, when the two time periods collide onstage, with music that fit in both. The play is loosely about time, memory, history, science, big data, patterns, chaos theory, love, and waltzing (a lot of waltzing), and was therefore right up my alley. I have not seen the production yet, but I will do so, and participate in a panel discussion (the designer’s talkback session) after the show on Thursday, March 13. Tickets for the performances that are not yet sold out, are available for purchase online.

    I had to write 1) music for a girl “playing piano badly” which is surprisingly difficult for someone who actually plays piano; 2) a modern improvisation that would suggest motifs from the early 19th century waltz; 3) an early 19th century waltz; 3) an almost-waltz; and 4) a time-traveling waltz that closes out the show. I read the entire play (and many parts of it twice) because it is very heady, though still a comedic piece. There were many ways in which the music can provide a bit of foreshadowing, and I used that almost like motifs are used in opera. I cannot wait to hear this live and I hope to see you there, at any of the performances or the talkback session on March 13. Deep Dish Theatre Company is located inside University Mall. Thanks to Douglas Vuncannon for passing my name along to Marc Maximov (sound designer for the production), and to Sara Zaleta, for letting me practice on her Yamaha grand.

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    November 13th, 2013adminUncategorized

    The Ringtone Album is officially out (and currently charting at the #4 spot on WXDU!) and you can get a physical CD or digital copy at the Felix Obelix bandcamp page. The solo exhibit of visual art is up at The Carrack Modern Art until Nov. 16 and an artist reception is scheduled for November 15 from 7-10pm. The three release shows on Nov. 8, 9 and 10 were amazing and well-attended! Thanks to the small army of volunteers it took to put on such a large-scale project. Here’s a bit of the artwork up at the space!

    Also, listen to one of the interviews done in preparation for the album’s release, on WKNC 88.1’s Carolina Grown show, Oct. 25, 2014. Thanks for listening!

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    September 19th, 2013adminUncategorized

    Yes, finally! A project almost three years in the making is finally coming to fruition. Felix Obelix’s album of ringtones, cleverly titled The Ringtone Album, will be premiered live, in its entirety in three consecutive shows in November 2013, in conjunction with an exhibit of my visual art. The performances and exhibit all happen at the Carrack Modern Art space in downtown Durham.  What are these pertinent dates? I’m glad you asked. They are:

    November 5-16: art exhibit entitled, The Sound That Means Someone Wants You of my mixed media works

    Friday, Nov. 8: Doors at 8pm, show at 9pm. The first of the live premiere performances, featuring me on bass/vocals; Missy Thangs on keyboard; Ardyn Flynt on mallet percussion; and Josh Starmer on cello. Beer/wine available on a donation basis.

    Saturday, Nov. 9: Doors at 7pm, artist talk (in which I explain and answer questions about the art on the walls) at 7:30pm; show at 9pm

    Sunday, Nov. 10: Doors at 2pm, show at 3pm. A family-friendly performance for babies, toddlers, older kids, their parents, and anyone else who prefers mid-day shows to late rock-n-roll nights.

    Limited seating, and no advance tickets will be sold, so come early! $7 per person, which includes a copy of the CD. Kids 12 and under come for FREE.

    Here’s the facebook show invite.

    The album, put out by the Potluck Foundation, will be available for purchase at the shows, and in local record stores starting in November. More details coming soon.

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