A Bug's Tale 

"Metamorphosis" comes to life at the Cellar Door.

click to enlarge For the first installment in a series called "Programme/Program," guitarist Frank Rourk, left, will be rearranging Philip Glass' interpretation of a timeless Franz Kafka novel. The event also will feature the work of artists Eliza Childress and Tyler Thomas. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • For the first installment in a series called "Programme/Program," guitarist Frank Rourk, left, will be rearranging Philip Glass' interpretation of a timeless Franz Kafka novel. The event also will feature the work of artists Eliza Childress and Tyler Thomas.

Guitarist Frank Rourk believes that there's a seducible moment when Richmonders remain too excited from their First Fridays Art Walks to head home and might be tempted with just one more artistic morsel. He envisions "Programme/Program," a series that will feature monthly combinations of thematically complementary music and exclusive prints and other art pieces available only on the night of the performance.

What could be more enticing for the first part of this series than a multimedia reimagining of Kafka's tale of Gregor Samsa, a man who wakes up one fine morning as an insect. "The story is bizarre, but so, so human," Rourk says. "It's something to ponder, to start a conversation over. That's what I want, something to start a discussion."

The sonic portion of the inaugural event will be an adaptation of Philip Glass' "Metamorphosis." Originally written for solo piano, Rourk has arranged it for bass, percussion and guitar, with visual collaboration from artists Tyler Thomas and doodling virtuoso Eliza Childress.

Rourk is a recent classical music graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University whose Andalusian chops, honed during long study from the masters in Spain, have been a mainstay of the university's annual Flamenco Festival. With a canny instinct for the unlikely, under the nom de strum Frankzig, he reached new audiences for his flamenco fluency by sharing the bill with heavy metal bands. "Metamorphosis" also draws on the Iberian musical vocabulary. "We interpret things that are new by things we understand," Rourk says. "I invariably bring out nuances that sound like flamenco."

The intent is to explore music as a representational narrative form rather than interpret it as a series of abstract ideas; not unlike Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," for which the score was structured as a series of tone poems composed and ordered to evoke a specific set of paintings at a show at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. The scale will be far more intimate at the Cellar Door, the basement restaurant on Stuart Circle. But that may be part of the charm.

"We are limited by space," Rourk acknowledges. "Think of it as an experiment to see how the brain works after you have overloaded senses. Come in, sit down, and enjoy a little less of a hustle-bustle scenario. Enjoy a program like you would see at a nice theater in a really dressed-down atmosphere." He promises live music, purpose-created art, and the chance to take part in a unique cultural moment. "You have to be there," the guitarist says. "And if you weren't, you weren't." S

"Metamorphosis," the first installment of "Programme/Program," takes place Aug. 5 at 9 p.m. at the Cellar Door, 1500 Monument Ave. 716-0346. Free. All ages.

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