Alarm Will Sound, a cutting-edge contemporary music ensemble, emits a jolt of energy in their performance of composer and string player Caleb Burhans’ Escape Wisconsin (Alarm Remix). The piece, whose title is a play on the “Escape to Wisconsin” bumper sticker, is a feverish exploration of fiery emotion. Melodies stack on top of each other with pulsating vigor, creating an urgency that flows all the way to the music’s end. The Road to Sound is thrilled to be premiering a new music video for the vibrant work, which you can watch and read about in more detail below.
Burhans originally wrote Escape Wisconsin as a solo work in college, channeling his dream of leaving his hometown in Wisconsin. Like many young people, he felt stuck and angry there. The small town was failing and claustrophobic — its central economic stream, the local General Motors, shut down, leaving it in shambles. While he tries to remain positive about the town, it’s difficult to bring light to a place that’s gone dark.
The theme of escape is a running current in Burhans’ work — he’s also composed a violin duet called Escape New York. But unlike many of his other pieces, when Escape Wisconsin was initially written, its main emotional state was anger. Upon returning to the piece nearly 15 years later for his new orchestration for Alarm Will Sound, Burhans chose to illuminate an ecstatic energy that would highlight the strengths of the ensemble rather than focus solely on anger. In this version of the piece, he plays with a duality of frenzy and contemplation, bringing together the concepts of loss and healing with what he describes as a frenetic atmosphere.
Alarm Will Sound, a 20-member ensemble, is known for their devotion to performing innovative new works and their wide variety of recordings of contemporary music. They’re also the resident ensemble with Mizzou International Composers Festival, held each year at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Escape Wisconsin (Alarm Remix) was first performed at Mizzou, and has been performed live since. This new music video, recorded by Four/Ten Media, presents a staging of Escape Wisconsin (Alarm Remix) in which the artists act out its underlying story. The result is a thrilling performance of zealous sound.