The Vigil at MICA

This is why I love Baltimore. You never know when you’ll find outlandish performers in full costume, decked to the nines, wandering the streets outside an oddly shaped glass building where you just heard an array of sounds you never thought was possible – all for an event most people in Baltimore will miss because it’s an all night ordeal, starting with a drum circle at 9pm and wrapping up at sunrise. Now that’s a mouthful.

Meandering outside of MICA’s Brown Center after the world premier of Erik Spangler’s ‘Mandala of the Four Directions,’ we happened upon Jenna McAuliffe and Kate Guntermann dressed for a different kind of party.  In the big picture above is Jenna McAuliffe sporting decadent Victorian garb. Absolutely stunning.

Kate Guntermann, known as ‘Sensoriel’ if she’s dancing with or eating fire, is a performance artist living in Baltimore. She performs independently as well as with the fabulous Cheeky Monkey Sideshow. If the name piques your curiosity, then check out the Cheeky Monkey video below and go see a show.

We found Kate and Jenna at the site of The Vigil, an all night music festival being held in front of MICA’s Brown Center. The Vigil combined orchestral and electronic musical performances on four stages at different points surrounding Cohen Plaza. Also featured were poets, dancers and projected imagery that carried on the theme for the evening, which was an examination of our relationship with the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water.

Earlier that night, we were fortunate enough to have experienced Erik Spangler’s ‘Mandala of the Four Directions’ performed as a part of the Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern series.  Spangler composed this piece as his dissertation while at Harvard University. On this night the piece served as the opening for The Vigil.

‘Mandala of the Four Directions’ was an example of the bold sensibility and depth of imagination of the Mobtown Modern movement and was a triumphant premier for Erik Spangler.

Spangler earned his Ph.D. in music composition, but this was the first time his dissertation had ever been performed. There were four separate ensembles and four vocalists in this aural exploration of the four elements.

I’m not entirely sure what else is involved with these four directions, but I’m guessing they might include the four seasons, the four horsemen, The Four Tops, four square and The Fantastic Four, but don’t quote me on that.