LIVERMORE FALLS — The 15th annual Frantasia Festival of Far Out Music & Arts was held Thursday, Friday and Saturday Aug. 23-25 at Fitness Stylz.
“There were years before that we had it in the woods. Sometimes 14 people would show up; sometime more; and sometimes less,” Founder and organizer Fran Szostek said.
A significantly larger audience gathered Friday to experience a showcase of unconventional sound, music, movement and visual art. The festival featured 15 acts, ranging from seasoned artist to beginning performer. Szostek said all players were helpful toward new performers and audience members.
“The festival is great because you get to see artists doing what they love the most and you never know what is going to happen next. It’s all very unexpected,” said Szostek.
The music shared by performers was full of mesmerizing sounds, surprising modulations and eccentric instrumentation. The sounds did not fit neatly into a standard genre but hints of jazz, blues and classical influences could be distinguished.
“What interests me about this type of music is the interesting sounds and textures that can be created for an evocative performance,” Brady Welch of Architecture explained.
Welch shared an ambient psychedelic meditative analog synthesizer performance at the festival. He started making music when he was 12 but it was in college that he began playing around on a modular synthesizer, he said. By manipulating filters, oscillators, and mixers on the synthesizer, Welch discovered sounds could create feeling.
Welch referred often to avant-garde composer John Cage, a pioneer in the field of innovative music. Welch said a favorite Cage work was “Water Walk”, a composed piece with seemingly accidental sounds made by pouring water, releasing steam and clinking ice cubes. The sounds, Welch said, were actually precision timed.
“I love it here because it is so interesting to see what people are doing to make music on their own terms,” said Ben Hines of Peru.
Hines said he has always been interested in noise music and often collaborates with other artists. He has performed at the festival in the past but attended this year as an audience member.
Skot Spear of Id m theft able said his interest in experimental music goes back as far as he can remember. “As soon as I heard it, it was automatic. Once I learned strange sounds could be music, it was a no brainer for me,” Spear explained.
Among the other featured festival performers were dance improviser Asimina Chremos, clarinetist Diane Randlett, and bassist Damon Smith.
Kathleen Szostek, Fran’s wife, said, “It is great to be a part of this to see people do the things they are passionate about. Even if I don’t get what they are going, I do get their passion,” she noted.
According to organizers, plans are already in the works for next year’s festival. For more information, visit www.frantasiafestival.com