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The Icarus Ensemble performs together after their first Faculty Artist Concert ten years ago

Posted on 02.08.2017
Icarus member Mark Ortwein performs one of Icarus’s original pieces “Oopsey Daisy” from the top of the list. Photo by Cassie Reverman

Icarus member Mark Ortwein performs one of Icarus’s original pieces “Oopsey Daisy” from the top of the list. Photo by Morgan Ellis

Performing together for 10 years since their first performance at the University of Indianapolis, The Icarus Ensemble performed Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. The jazz ensemble consists of five instrumentalists, with Dean Franke on the violin, Gary Walters on piano, Peter Hansen on bass, Mark Ortwein on reeds and Jon Crabiel on percussion. According to a UIndy critic, the Icarus Ensemble is “the innovative classical-jazz-pop quintet.”

The Icarus Ensemble plays a broad mix of music, including classically inspired jazz, jazz and pop standards and original compositions from group members.

The set list encompassed a combination of originals with unique titles, pieces with no names or other covers. In order, the quintet played originals “Oopsey Daisy,” “Widow’s Walk,” “Is That Your Toaster?,” “Shelly Intermezzo,” “Country,” “Lunar Love,” a piece without a title that was rearranged by the group from the Ronen Ensemble, Tears for Fears’ “Mad World,” an original titled “Air” and the closing piece for the evening, “Pepperoni Grande con queso mas.”

Senior music performance major and percussionist Logan Fox was able to attend the concert for the evening to enjoy a group that he has seen times before.

“[I attended because] I needed three more ‘other’ concert credits, such as jazz, before I graduate. We [jazz ensemble members] also have to attend four jazz concerts every semester, and we have to write a concert review. So I wanted to attend this and get it out of the way,” Fox said. “I’ve actually really enjoyed anytime I’ve ever seen this ensemble’s concerts. I’ve only been to their concerts two other times, but I always enjoy it.”

According to the biography from the ensemble’s Facebook page, they “first came together for a Faculty Artist Concert at the University of Indianapolis in February of 2007.

Their innovative style of music does not go unnoticed, however, and Fox was one who appreciated it in performance.

“I liked the fact that they aren’t afraid to blend so many things together. I like collaboration and ensembles that aren’t afraid to do and to combine new things, but at the same time, maintain accessibility,” Fox said. “For the most part, I don’t know too many people who wouldn’t be able to enjoy that kind of concert, but at the same time, they were doing artistic things.”

Freshman music performance major and percussionist of eight years Garret Crow accompanied Fox during the performance to pick up details of Crabiel’s percussionist skills.

“I was interested in the Icarus Ensemble because I’m always trying to improve my playing and knowledge of jazz,” Crow said, “which requires heavily listening to it [the music] and watching it be performed just as frequently.”

For Fox, although there was not a printed program for the evening, there were moments he enjoyed throughout.

“The reason there wasn’t a program was because they’re a really spontaneous group. They performed arrangements and stuff like ‘Mad World’ and on stage, if you saw them talking to each other, they were deciding in the moment, ‘Hey, let’s do this one.’ It [the chosen song] might be the one that, say, Dean Franke wrote,” Fox said. “They’ll ask, ‘Hey, can we do this on stage?’ and then they’ll do it. It’s just a really spontaneous environment, and that’s kind of refreshing.”

Crow, sitting with Fox, had a difficult time putting his finger on his favorite piece of the evening.

“I couldn’t tell you what my favorite piece was live, but I purchased a copy of their CD ‘Icarus Ensemble’ for sale after the show and there was a song called ‘Schizoid’ because of its complexity and combination of several different styles,” Crow said.

Although Fox said he does not recommend this kind of concert to his grandparents, specifically, he encourages anyone who seems even somewhat interested to attend a concert like this.

Almost like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and Prize Fighter Inferno, the Icarus Ensemble had song titles that are not typical of jazz artists, according to Fox.

“That [the song titles] kind of drove me crazy, but I imagine that’s kind of the point. Maybe they care more about the music and no so much as having an elaborate title.  I like a good title,” Fox said. “They’re just such talented guys.”

Photo by Cassie Reverman

Photo by Cassie Reverman

Crow was enthusiastic about what is provided by the music department provides through performance and academics.

“I think that the music department has a lot to offer all students, including those outside of the department,” he said. “There are lots of concerts offered that even the ‘common joe’ would likely find enjoyable.”

Fox appreciates The Icarus Ensemble’s demonstration of professional musicianship during the performance from night and in the past.

“I liked the entire spontaneous factor to their playing throughout the performance. I really enjoyed that during their solo, they weren’t afraid do ‘extended’ technique,” Fox said. “Dean played harmonics on the violin, and I believe that’s really difficult to be able to do on the fly.”

Echoing Air, an upcoming performance will take place on Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.  This concert will feature countertenors Steven Rickards and Nathan Medley; tenor Jeffrey Collier also on recorder; Keith Collins on recorder and bassoon; Thomas Gerber on harpsichord and organ and Christine Kyprianides on viola da gamba.

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