Astoria music festival has real teeth
by Cynthia Via
Jul 20, 2011 | 7186 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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The 9th Annual NYC Musical Saw Festival featured soloists and group performers each twisting and bending the haunting melodies of the musical saw to express their own individual sound.

The festival was held on Saturday, July 16, at the Astoria Hellenic Cultural Center.

The variety was endless, ranging from orchestra performances accompanying Astoria's own Natalia “Saw Lady” Paruz, like “In Bend,” composed by Scott Munson and “In Air” composed by J.S. Bach. Paruz performed her solos after, which were combined with ethereal, light bells.

Soloists came from around the world, including Dr. Haris Gershom from India, who made his own instrument in order to play the saw, the harmonica and the violin at the same time. Lili Marleen from Berlin, Germany, was one of the few to sing while playing the saw.

Saw players also traveled from different parts of the United States for the festival, like The Roe Family Singers from Minnesota, while some came from right around the corner. Christine Suter, a Long Island resident played the quirky “Pure Imagination” from the Willy Wonka movie in her first solo performance.

Kale McConathy, 21, from Washington, also performed at the festival for the first time, but has eight years of experience under his belt. In middle school, he was lucky enough to find a saw teacher for one-on-one lessons, giving him a chance to see the musical saw in a different light.



“It’s not a novelty item, but an actual instrument,” he said. McConathy wants to see more saw festivals take place. “It's pretty awesome to get so many saw players together in one small place.”

Willa France, who was first captivated by watching Paruz play in the Union Square subway station, read her saw-inspired poetry.

The older, more experienced players also got a chance to show off. Maestro Moses Josiah, 82, often seen playing in the subway, came to give his version of “Imagine” on stage.

Doc George Hiller, heavily influenced by bluesy sounds, first heard the saw on the radio in the 70’s. He decided to start exploring and later added the amplifier.

The festival was closed out by an ensemble of 37 saw players performing “Ave Maria” and “Over the Rainbow.”
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