'Finding Meaningful Connections': Tetractys New Music Presents 'Net Work'
“When the pandemic started, we had a whole season planned of live concerts that of course we had to totally re-arrange,” says James Parker, one of the co-directors of Tetractys New Music. Faced, like artists worldwide, with a reality that didn’t include live performances for the foreseeable future, Parker and his colleagues posed an interesting question to themselves. “If this organization had never existed and if we didn’t have any history,” Parker says, “what would do with the money that we had?”
Looking forward to an unusual and challenging artistic season, Parker and the rest of Tetractys got to work. “We wanted to pay artists. [That] was kind of our number one thing. So we had an open call for composers, performers, and video artists. And we got, I think, over 400 applications from 50 countries. We somehow narrowed it down to nine folks, and we teamed them up. So now there’s three teams of one composer, one performer, and one video artist. And we gave them some money… and we gave them four months. And we said, ‘hey, create something that can only be experienced online.’”
That project became Net Work, the new streaming show that Tetractys is debuting on May 15. The assignment was extremely open-ended; artists were encouraged to create anything they wanted, as long as it gave more-or-less equal importance to all members of the team and embraced the spirit of being created as an exclusively online experience.
“You know, we’ve had Zoom technology, we’ve had video chat for a long time,” Parker says. “But it’s never been so a part of peoples’ lives until now. And so we saw this… as an opportunity for people that are now very comfortable with Zoom and working over Zoom to collaborate with people that they never would have met before.
“So none of the teams have people that live in the same place,” Parker says. “There’s one team [where] the composer is in Mexico City, the performers are in Austin and Kentucky, and the video artist is in Thailand. People and places all over the world, which is kind of nice.”
Parker says that building community became central to the mission of Net Work. “Part of what we wanted to do with this whole thing is… build a community not just within each three-person team… but kind of between the teams [as well],” he says. “And [the artists] all say… that it’s great that they are able to work with these people that they’ve never met before and they wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise. And that, especially in this pandemic when finding meaningful connections is more difficult than ever, they’re able to make these connections and create some special art.”