“60 works by 60 artists, 60 x 60 (2012) offers something different every minute.” Dr. Rodney Waschka, director of the Arts Studies Program at NC State University, pointed out that the program directed by Robert Voisey is a mix sure to delight; or at least some of the pieces will tickle your fancy. Space does not allow me to describe each and every compact miniature. But they all passed the scrupulous test of a selection panel that follows the “Radio Request Extravaganza.” The hour of music was presented in the Kennedy-McIlwee Theater in Thompson Theater on the campus of NC State University at precisely 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Beginning with Lynn Job’s moving “Bones Release” each of the evening’s selections represent a unique piece of the contemporary electronic music world. Some were edgy (“Ubiquity” by Melissa Grey) some mysterious (“Ghost Whispers” by Adam Sovkoplas) and others humorous (“Teleplay” by John Link). In one way or another, all of them tweaked my imagination (keeping alert the sleep-deprived student on my right). And like capturing a dream, I attempted to jot down a few descriptions before the memory faded.

There were composers I immediately recognized; ‘pros’ who have been churning out fascinating compositions for quite some time. Elainie Lillios’ “Last Night I Dreamt That My House Was Clean” was funny and relevant. Her synthesized clinks and clanks, playfully, yet expertly spun together made me laugh out loud. Douglas Geers’ “Polk Pond” sent chills down my spine as rhythmically complex, ominous sounds whizzed by in stereo. And “Lo Siento” by Brad Decker summonsed anxiety as I attempted to grasp the text. Like Paul Lansky’s chatter music, phonemes seem to bypass the language center of the brain traveling directly to the amygdala.

There was a number of excellent compositions by students and Ph.D. candidates from the Lone-Star State. Aaron Word’s “Untitled” was interesting and well put together. The whoosh of “Runaway” by Chris Flores made me think of Doctor Who and his sidekick, Amy Pond. And I loved “Manswatter 3” by Moises Linares. Was he inspired by NASA’s wonderful Mars rover, Curiosity, or did he picture a wild looking robotic insect? I look forward to hearing more from these young composers and technology wizards from Texas A & M.    

International in scope, there were beautifully crafted pieces from artists around the globe. Ricardo Arias, Assistant Professor in the Art Department at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, penned the stunning “Mirando hacia abajo durante 60 segundos.” And Nivedita ShivRaj’s elegant submission “Himalaya Queen,” is based on a carnatic raga, Hemavathi. These and others represent a snapshot of a rich contemporary artistic life on the planet, all skillfully ordered into this year’s mix coordinated by Robert Ratcliffe.   

Finally, none surpassed the richness of Allen Strange’s “Shadow Boxer.” A composer who left behind a vast collection of work, he will be remembered as a pioneer of the American avant-garde and electronic music. And I would be remiss to omit North Carolina State’s own, Rodney Waschka II. His “Wall Street 2008” combines historical drama with the wit of Mark Twain and the musical acumen of a very fine composer.

This was the first program of the 2012-2013 Arts Now Series and was presented by the Arts Studies Program, the Music Department and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.