Robb Quinn

Translator Lab
March 22, 2012 – 7:00 PM

Composer Mark Mantel continues his evolving interdisciplinary series The Machine Gun Concerto, with the performance of the fourth installation, The Machine Gun Etudes  (running out of ammo…). Socially conscious poets/spoken word artists Elvis Thao and Victor DeLorenzo, and filmmaker/videographer Scott Johnson will contribute words and visual images while a quartet of musicians (soprano sax, violin, cello, and vibraphone) perform six works in alternation with the other artists.

Continuing the spirit of the interdisciplinary and improvisational nature of this work, the composer has provided the poets and filmmaker with only the the titles to the sections of the work they will realize, fused with an understanding of the work’s overtly antiwar/pro-peace themes.  A few musical directions from previous performances have also been suggested.  Additionally the regional recollections of the anti war and civil rights movements in the late 1960’s, as referenced by the great Jimi Hendrix in his Machine Gun, provide a larger context to the current and continuing saga in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This work also pays tribute to the  Daniel Pearl Foundation’s World Music Days.  For many years, the composer has organized a number of concerts and events that mirror the legacy of Daniel Pearl and support the work of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

Join performers Janet Schiff, Albert Abena, Cindy Covelli, and Mark Mantel at The Translator Lab on Thursday, March 22, 2012.  The room will activate at 7:00 P.M., with conversation and a special ambient version of The Machine Gun Concerto.  The performance will begin at 8:00 P.M. Donations will be accepted.  The Translator Lab is located at 415 E. Menomonee Street.

For more information contact: B61 MOD11 Records/dieforArt Productions, at 414.744.7125, and visit for periodic updates.

Mission Accomplished – Still 1
Scott Johnson, Video Artist

Mission Accomplished – Still 2
Scott Johnson, Video Artist

Mission Accomplished – Still 3
Scott Johnson, Video Artist
July 23, 2011 – 7:00 PM 

Sketches from the Machine Gun Concerto is the first of a number of ‘views’ of a double concerto for harpsichord, contrabass and chamber orchestra. These ‘views’ will utilize various media and performance scenaria in order to uncover hidden musical and metaphorical angles.  The work takes as it’s point of departure the melodic line of the inimitable Machine Gun, by Jimi Hendrix. 

Join performers Rachel Icenogle, Alex Stewart, Cindy Covelli, Victor De Lorenzo, Jason Wietlispach, Janet Schiff, and Steven White (with more to come) as well as video artists Scott Johnson and Melissa Musante, and art activist Valerie J. Christell at The Translator Lab, on July 23rd, 2011.  The room will activate at 7:00 P.M. The performance will begin at 8:00 P.M.  The Translator Lab is located at 415 E. Menomonee Street. 

    The Machine Gun Concerto, for harpsichord, contrabass, and a chamber orchestra is a work that takes the inimitable simplicity of the Jimi Hendrix tune, ‘Machine Gun’ – essentially D blues played for a long time – combined with a complex musical and social narrative; specifically, the Vietnam war, civil rights, and the violent protests in the streets across America, and uses it as a vehicle to chronicle this generation’s entry into Afghanistan, Iraq, and the nightmare that is this trillion dollar a year war on terror.  It is a musical offering of a social statement – a collective experience of consciousness addressing a current predicament that touches all of our lives.  The sections of the work, 11 in all, follow their own internal narrative, and then, I place them squarely (some pun intended) in the concert hall.

   In my usual way of working on large scale pieces, I will be taking a look at sketches of the work through a miniature lens, as well as through additional interdisciplinary filters.  Structural improvisation, visual representations of the unspoken narrative, audio sculptures, and a more intimate relationship with the audience will serve to unearth other components of the work that I might overlook when I compose a work for the concert hall.

It is a great pleasure to be joined by art activist Valerie J. Christell, who will hang a special selection of works relevant to the ongoing Pro Peace/Anti War effort.  Her artwork expresses the energy inherent in and between everything and everyone and explores the results of humans interacting with each other and their environment.  Her social statement pieces are currently created in photo collage where figures interact with and reflect what they uneasily exist with.  I am also joined by filmmakers and musicians Melissa Musante and Scott Johnson.  In the true spirit of improvisation, both Scott and Melissa have been presented audio “loops” and have improvised film/video pieces that are thematically related, yet operate tangentially during the performance.

Most importantly, the spiritual connection with The Translator Lab , from the people and the unique and dynamic physical space, to the energy and aesthetic, will provide the perfect vehicle to complete the realization of this interpretation.  Mark Fairbanks, a partner, and Chief Aesthetic Officer at Translator says, ‘…Translator is an experience design firm located in the Third Ward focused on helping brands build relationships with their consumers both online and offline. Translator uses a refreshing co-creation approach with their clients, helping them connect the dots to develop better brand stories. The Experience Series was created to celebrate and promote creativity and innovation in all genres.”

He’s right!

Sugar Maple: Summer 2010441 E. Lincoln; Milwaukee WI  53207

   Join me this summer as I present a 3 concert, improvised music series at Sugar Maple, in Bay View – Wednesday, June 16th; Wednesday, July 21st; and August 25th.  I will revisit my newest interdisciplinary work 3 Trios: A Piece/One Peace; in Five Acts, in its original improvised form.  The work is scheduled to be on my next CD/DVD release, and will have a Fall premiere with the full video component.  You can find out more about the piece under Current Projects –New CD/DVD Project

I will be joined by a host of fine musicians, including Janet Schiff on ‘cello, Steve Nelson Raney on saxes, Vic DeLorenzo on percussion and percussives, Mike Kulik on guitar and feedback, and John Lydon on trumpets.  I will be responsible for vibraphone, text, and percussives.  As the series progresses, new instrumentalists will join us and new textures will be explored.  I will post new thoughts and information regularly.

I am very excited.  I enjoy twisting and turning my own music – re-looking at it from different angles, seeing what I might have missed, almost like an archaeological dig.  3 trios, 5 acts, 3 days, 5 weeks apart…all part of a larger architectural structure that fascinates me endlessly….

July 25, 2010


To hear excerpts of the pieces from the June 16th show, click on the MP3s below:


 441 E. Lincoln Avenue

Milwaukee, WI  53207
(414) 481-2393

From 6:30 to 8:00 PM I will performRetro/Intro/Spective, a site-specific work composed/assembled for Milwaukee Artbeat. It is scored for video, ambient electronics, and improvised percussion.

reflects my current obsession with the perceived and imperceptible movement of stasis…

The HIDE HOUSE is located at:
2625 S. Greeley Street
Milwaukee, WI  53207

For more information visit:

Here are three brief video clips from  Retro/Intro/Spective, performed at Milwaukee Art Beat.  The entire performance was 90 minutes.  Visit the link above to Milwaukee Art Beat and see all of the filmmakers, artists, musicians and poets who dedicated their time to bring the arts to Milwaukee youth.