Most artists wait until they reach their peak to begin making work in a new medium, but Andrew Eastman is hitting the ground running in his next creative endeavor. Eastman, who performs electronic music under the name Echavox, has been plugging away at rehearsals for his first musical opus, COR. After months of teasers released through the Instagram account @discovercor, COR's First Encounter will be realized this Friday at Whittier College Memorial Chapel.
COR is an experimental musical written and directed by Echavox, and it revolves around a world plagued by drought and its inhabitants are born into slavery to dig for oil. But possibilities for change happen when a group of children are visited by 'a celestial being' who grants them the key to restore and reinvigorate the planet's natural resources. The performance will feature live music by Echavox, as well as actors, dancers and an immersive theater experience brought by art installations and visual projections to make the viewer feel as though they're in the world of COR.
The Whittier-based Eastman began learning musical instruments in his middle school years but later felt restricted, citing a preference for choir and theater. "Once I began recording my own music on my computer I realized that writing a song using a computer fulfilled me much more than playing a traditional instrument and it allowed me to be more articulate by including very strange sounds," Eastman says. "My music began to feel much more natural, as if the computer allowed me to practice speaking in my own language."
Echavox's music is fittingly characterized as experimental, with lyrics, sounds and ambient noises captured from Eastman's cell phone. He describes it best as "an abandoned house that's been overgrown by nature" with "echoes of instruments and sounds that have been trapped in these rooms and have evolved through my manipulation." Echavox has been able to play around Los Angeles, Orange County, and in places like Portland, Austin and Seattle.
The idea for COR first came about when Eastman and friends Sara Mawcinnit and Jessica Carlile brainstormed ideas for a cabaret-style theater production with contemporary themes and commentary. The idea dissipated until after Eastman shot his short film It Was Only Then That I Realized I Was Driving Myself Into the Gates of Hell, he wanted to plan a way to incorporate the films with future Echavox shows. So he reconnected with Sara and met with Christopher Lopez, the head of a high school theater program at Abraham Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights. The more friends, volunteers and interested parties that it brought in, the more it shaped what COR would eventually be; it's an ongoing collaboration.
"We realize that COR is an opportunity to work together in order to create something bigger than all of us. An opportunity to create an environment/ experience where we have the ability and freedom to create, exemplify and dissect without abiding by the rules of reality or time," Eastman says. "In retrospect, that's why theater felt like the best medium to share our ideas."
COR: First Encounter is a special preview for the community, with its live debut happening later this summer. Besides the featured presentation, viewers will be treated to performances by producers Cave Space, Dirty Merlin, FLOODS, Memory Den and Desert Woman; while art vendors and local organizations will be present to offer info and opportunities for involvement. This will be a free event, open to all ages, with the added aims to educate, entertain and spread positivity and connections to the community.
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COR: First Encounterat Whittier College Memorial Chapel, 13406 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier. 7 p.m. Free. All ages.