Fracture Society reunites for piano, theremin performance in Wilkes-Barre
WILKES-BARRE — Two pianos with three hands and a theremin.
Without context, the phrase sounds more like the activity at a music store rummage sale than the instrumental lineup of an improvisational trio, but behind the phrase is the impromptu experiment of three experienced local musicians and the unfortunate way they came up with a name.
The Fracture Society performs at 4 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Wyoming Valley Art League’s Circle Center for the Arts, and the three-piece ensemble of Wayne Smith, Jason Smeltzer and Ron Stabinsky has a variety of works to showcase including celebrated jazz and classical pieces and original compositions.
The Fracture Society’s only previous performance came in February 2012, Smith said, after a duo performance by him and Smeltzer was almost scratched due to an accident.
Smith, a Scott Township pianist, was hiking in Lackawanna State Park when he slipped on a patch of ice and broke his right arm above the shoulder.
“Initially, I cancelled it,” Smith said of the 2012 performance. “Then it occurred to me: I have a left hand.”
Smith said he was able to recruit Stabinsky, an accomplished pianist from Plains Township, to join him and Smeltzer, a theremin player from Scranton, and provide added dexterity.
“We both knew Ron, and he was scheduled to be at the same venue that night,” Smeltzer said. “It was very impromptu.”
During the Fracture Society’s first performance, the show was billed as “music for two pianos on three hands, and the theremin.”
“This time around, we’re going to start the beginning of the program with two pianos, three hands and a theremin, and the rest of it will be for two pianos, four hands and a theremin,” Smith said.
Smith said Stabinsky, who plays in such noted groups as the Charles Evans Quartet, Peter Evans Quintet and avant-garde ensemble Mostly Other People Do the Killing, is a world class and versatile pianist.
“I cannot possibly lavish enough praise on Ron,” Smith said.
The Jan. 29 performance will include arrangements of pieces by Franz Schubert, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter in addition to improvisational musings by all three Fracture Society members and original pieces by Smith and Smeltzer.
Smeltzer’s original work was originally composed to accompany poetry from “The Book of the Snow,” a collection of Belgian works translated into English by local scholar Philip Mosley.
Also a trained classical guitarist, Smeltzer wrote the music on strings but in a non-traditional way.
“Usually classical guitar is pretty busy,” Smeltzer said. “This is aggressively sparse. I had Philip read three pieces, and I transcribed his voice into notes, very literally.”
Although the piece was composed on a guitar, Smeltzer will perform the sections written for poem’s text on theremin.
“With the more abstract parts, Ron and Wayne will do whatever they feel,” Smeltzer said.
Smith said a common willingness to rely on instinct and a collective sense of intuition among members brings out a relaxed performance, one that, he hopes will connect with the audience.
“I think what I like most is the unpredictability,” Smith said. “It adds interest.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO:
What: The Fracture Society
Where: Circle Center for the Arts, 130 Rear S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre
When: 4 p.m. Jan. 29
Admission information: The event is free and open to the public, although a suggested donation of $5 will be appreciated. Food and drink will be provided. For more information, call 570-288-1020.