Caballito Negro pushes flute and percussion to new heights

Flute and percussion duo Tessa Brinckman and Terry Longshore are Caballito Negro. Inspired by Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca's 1860 poem, "Cancion de Jinete," the duo collaborates with a range of innovative artists to create a blend of modern and traditional aesthetics that push the flute and percussion repertoire to new heights — and always in the spirit of "duende," or heart and soul.

Britt Music & Arts Festival will present Caballito Negro in concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at the Schneider Museum of Art, near the intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Indiana Street, on the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland. The show is part of Britt's efforts to bring musicians into Jackson and Josephine county schools.

Tickets are $10, free to students and kids 12 and younger, and can be reserved by calling 541-690-3852 or by emailing Those who attend should bring cushions for seating among the museum's art installations.

Caballito Negro's program, "Songlines," will be a multimedia presentation of works by Brinckman and Longshore, along with composers Howard Hersh, William Kraft, David P. Jones, Mark Applebaum, Ivan Trevino and Caballito Negro. Its diverse instrumentation includes six flutes, western and non-western percussion and spoken word. Much like the physical and spiritual journeys of Australian Aboriginal people, "Songlines" describes a few of the inner and outer landscapes humans must travel. The compositions are tied together with images and narratives collected and written by Brinckman and Longshore.

Hersh's "Braided River Nights" is a sensual entwinement of alto flute with marimba, enhanced by fleeting words from American songs and hymns, such as Robert Lowry's "Shall We Gather at the River."

Kraft's "Encounters XVI" blends the sexiness of Los Angeles studio jazz with the impressionistic colors of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Written for flute, marimba, vibraphone and percussion, it was premiered in 2012 by Caballito Negro and recorded for Kraft in 2014.

Described as music of hope, Jones' "Music for South Africa" was inspired by the struggle against apartheid. The three movements in the work — "Amandla," "Ububele" and "Hamba Kahle" — draw from traditional South African music and the sounds of Johannesburg's nightclub jazz.

Composer, sound sculptor and Stanford professor Mark Applebaum refuses to be fenced in, proving it impossible with his "The Metaphysics of Notation." This wildly elaborate, pictorial score — which will be projected for the audience — comes with no instructions. Caballito Negro will interpret the piece with baroque flute, piccolo and electronic percussion.

"This is Like Jazz!" by Trevino is a groove-heavy piece that mirrors the rhythmic and metric complexity of the music in Turkmenistan. It features percussive contrabass flute (think bass riffs and amplification) in conversation with marimba and spoken word. Trevine created this musical narrative of his time in the Central Asian country.

"That Which Colors the Soul," a new piece by Brinckman and Longshore, draws from the duo's collective experience with Hindustani music and is written for flute, tabla, bottles and electronics. It melds Hindustani traditions with Western tones in a search for contemporary language for flute and tabla.

Brinckman and Longshore's new digital-download EP will be available at the Schneider show. The EP includes Kraft's "Encounters," Jones' "Music for South Africa" and Trevino's "This is Like Jazz!" Download cards are $5.

Brinckman and Longshore returned home to Ashland on March 1 from a two-week regional tour. The duo performed "Songlines" at Western Oregon University in Monmouth; Oregon State University in Corvallis; Portland State University; Cafe Artichoke in southeast Portland; Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Wash.; Lincoln City Cultural Center; and for the Umpqua Symphony Association in Roseburg.

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