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Disc review: Christopher Bono, ‘Bardo’

Here, for sure, is a composer with as odd a pedigree as you’re likely to find.

He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners baseball team in 1999 but kept from playing because of an injury.

So he started playing the guitar at 21 and performed in a roots rock band. Then he studied classical composition and, according to publicity information, lived “seven years in near-hermetic isolation” teaching “himself to read and write music” and later studying “Harmony, Analysis and Counterpoint in the Nadia Boulanger tradition independently with Juilliard professor Kendall Briggs and at La Sola Cantorum in Paris.”

With that kind of C.V., what resulted? A “reflection and prayer for the transition from Chaos and Decay to Transformation and Rebirth” through the narrative “journey” of The Fool from the Tarot Deck.

It was premiered at the Ann Hamilton Tower in Geyserville, Calif., in June 2012. It is, says the composer, “sonic cinema.” If you can imagine the classical music equivalent of grandiose, wildly imaginative “outsider” cinematic fantasy a la “The Matrix,” that’s what this is, full of fiercely dramatic tonal music from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra mixed with all manner of sounds and sound effects, some of them a good deal ruder than anything Richard Strauss ever brought to a tone poem.

Sample movement titles: “Endless Doors to Endless Wombs” and “Clouds Blooming at the Thought of Union.” Think of it, then, as a kind of outsider 21st century neo-Richard Strauss with more than a dash of Scriabin at his maddest.

Fascinating, boring and almost everything in between from an entirely unexpected source.


Christopher Bono

“Bardo” [Silent Canvas]

3.5 stars

BARDO (Digital, CD, Vinyl) by Christopher Bono

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