The Oblivion Project, formed in 2003, is a Midwest based group that is dedicated to the exploration and performance of the music of Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla. Piazzolla was a prolific composer, with over 3000 works of Nuevo Tango; a powerful form of Tango that takes a visceral and direct approach in its feeling and intent.
The group is made up of Ken Johnston on the violin, Derek Snyder on the cello, guitarist Erin Vaughn, Pianist Mau Quiros, bassist Gerald Torres and percussionist Pepe Espinosa. The band is stacked with talent, as the individual musicians have played in a wide variety of orchestras and collaborated with the likes of Dave and Chris Brubeck.
The stirring voice at the front of the band is Migguel Anggelo, who reached musical stardom at age 13, when he auditioned to be one of the chorus boys in a Broadway touring production of the musical Pinocchio that came to his home country of Venezuela. To his surprise, he was cast as Pinocchio himself. He subsequently cultivated a love of theater, which matches well with the dramatic spirit of Piazzolla’s brand of Nuevo Tango. The band is blazing trails in carrying the sound-world of Piazzolla with them on their eighth Midwest tour, and the whole band feels a burning passion for the music.
“Of all the music that we perform as professional musicians, Piazzolla's has by far the strongest reactions,” Derek Snyder said. “His music really takes listeners on journeys.”
Current: What does the spirit of Tango mean to you and the embodiment of it in the music of Astor Piazzolla?
Snyder: “Astor Piazzolla was interested in a new Tango. He wanted to break Tango music out of the strict box of tradition and explore more progressive harmonies and musical forms. He was interested in Tango more as music to be felt and listened to than danced to. He called his music Tango Nuevo. It was once written that Piazzolla's music has 'all the emotions that exist'. I believe that this is why his music connects so well with listeners.”
Current: With so many Piazzolla scores to choose from, how do you decide what you want to play?
Snyder: “The simple answer is that we pick the music that connects mostly with us. He was also so extremely prolific that much of his compositions, even 20 years after his passing, is still difficult to find in published form. Getting printed music to play from takes a good amount of searching and transcribing and arranging for our particular instrumentation. We also pick music to highlight certain players. We have wanted to explore his vocal music and after meeting Migguel Anggelo we started including vocal selections in our playlist.”
Current: How does Tango capture the dramatic, theatrical side of side of life?
Anggelo: “The tango dance has been referred to as the “dance of sorrow,” representing frustrated love and human fatality. The dances were essentially duals between two men who were fighting over a woman’s attention and they resulted in the symbolic death of one man and the triumph of the other, winning the woman as his prize. There is a lot of melodramatic passion built into this interaction which makes for a theatrical experience. The music obviously stirs the pot!”
Current: What does Anggelo bring to Piazzolla’s music that stands out in your performances (what does he do to captivate an audience)?
Snyder: “Migguel is a very captivating and communicative performer. Piazzolla's music tells stories and Migguel is a wonderful story teller. He is very inclusive of the audience in his stories.”
The band has two free Ann Arbor shows coming up in the next couple of days, so don’t miss this band’s timeless sound.
July 18th & 19th- Hands on Museum 220 E Ann St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 @ 7 & 8:30PM