Ludlow Massacre remembered through Peak FreQuency 'Collage'

By: DAVID SCKOLNIK Special to The Gazette
January 28, 2014 Updated: January 28, 2014 at 9:21 am
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It was a horrifying moment.

One hundred years ago this April, as many as 25 people, many children, were killed outside of Trinidad. They call it the Ludlow Massacre. The ensuing conflict between striking coal miners and company-controlled militia went on to take the lives of perhaps 200 people.

To commemorate this dark era in our state's history, the entire University of Colorado system is employing academic and artistic resources to bring new light to a not so distant time. On Friday, the Gallery of Contemporary Art on the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus opens an art exhibit, "Protest!" Later that evening, the Peak FreQuency series explores the themes surrounding Ludlow with a multidiscipline presentation, "Resistance and Rebellion: Remember the Past to Carve the Future."

"This is what I call a collage performance," said Glen Whitehead, an assistant professor in the department of visual and performing arts and director of the music program at UCCS. Whitehead is the curator of the performance - which, like all Peak FreQuency performances, is contemporary in its approach.

"I like the challenge of bringing in disparate musical genres and artists to collaborate and create a product larger than itself."

The components of "Resistance and Rebellion" include the Ormao Dance Co., faculty and student musicians from UCCS, and Whitehead's Psychoangelo, an avant-garde electro-acoustic group he founded with Michael Theodore. The cornerstone of the concert is an appearance by Tim Eriksen, who calls his approach to music-making "hard-core Americana."

"Tim is a very deep folk artist," said Whitehead. "He's done a huge amount of research. He's a great vocalist in old traditions. You can feel this historical underpinning in what he does."

The performance begins with a short solo set by Eriksen. "Tim has a tune called 'O Death,'" said Whitehead, referring to the tune Ralph Stanley made mainstream in the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" "These tunes come from people who lived a lot different kind of lives than ours - lots of death, lots more insecurity, lawlessness and an experience of unfairness that we can hardly conceive of."

From there, the performance moves onto what to Whitehead says is like an "overture. "We'll bridge into the first dance number with an interlude that will be basically a Psychoangelo set and involves all 20 dancers.

"The end result is a folk music concert that includes a whole range of other sounds and orchestrations all enwrapped in Ormao's choreography," said Whitehead.

"I'm from the East Coast. It's a real different feel out here. Many people are the ancestors of pioneers and it's not really that long ago. It's amazing to think back about 100 years ago, reading an account of the Ludlow Massacre and where we were as a culture back then. It's amazing that something like that could happen."

"resistance and rebellion"

Who: Peak FreQuency, UCCS faculty and students musicians, Ormao Dance Co., Psychoangelo and Tim Eriksen

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31

Where: GOCA 1420, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway

Admission: Free, but audience space is limited: 255-5134;

Something else: At 5 p.m. Friday, GOCA opens its related "Protest" art exhibit in the same space.

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