Theresa Wong calls Berkeley home, but she forged her artistic identity via a long and winding journey abroad, soaking up creative currents in Salzburg, Vienna, Venice and beyond. A cellist, vocalist, composer, and graphic artist who can often be found enmeshed in gripping multi-media productions, Wong joins forces with guitarist/vocalist Fred Frith at the Berkeley Art Festival space 8 p.m. Saturday for a set of duo improvisation (a double bill with the electronics, piano and percussion trio Dapplegrey benefiting Doctors Without Borders).
In many ways, Frith has played a central role in Wong’s unlikely transformation from Stanford University-trained product designer to performance artist responsible for riveting works like The Unlearning, a multi-media collaboration with violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt inspired by Goya’s disquieting Disasters of War etchings (the album was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label).
A long-time member of the music faculty at Mills College, Frith first gained renown as a pioneering experimentalist when he co-founded the avant-garde British rock band Henry Cow in 1968. He’s dauntingly prolific artist who works on multiple fronts as a composer, educator, and globe-trotting musical explorer, and his path first crossed with Wong’s when she attended the Venice Biennale in 2003.
“It was the first time I heard Pamela Z, Julia Wolfe, and Fred Frith,” Wong recalls. “I still have my book of notes, trying to make sense of what makes this or that performance work. Everyone was so friendly. I’d go to talks and lectures. I heard Fred playing solo, and saw that he teaches at Mills, near where my parents live.” … Continue reading »