Avant-Garde: Adventure in Affinities

Adventure in Affinities

Splotches of color danced and melted into each other on the walls. From the silhouetted forms of musicians onstage, archaic strains of medieval chansons overlapped with the thumps and twangs of contemporary rock. At the side, electronic sounds erupted from a glittering electronic synthesizer that resembled a far-out version of the Radio City Music Hall's mighty Wurlitzer. Not surprisingly, the program notes listed a consulting psychologist.

It was last week's "Electric Christmas" concert in Carnegie Hall, an experimental, 80-minute program that had no breaks—except with tradition. The participants:...

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