2nd IENE Workshop with St Patrick School – Collaboration!

IENE & St Patricks - Collaboration!

IENE & St Patricks – Collaboration!

Our second day of the St Patricks at PMAC Workshop was an adventure in collaboration!  We paired all the students, cut the number of paintings in half, while doubling the size of each painting and each pair of students was asked to collaborate on a single painting.

Our guest was Jonny Peiffer; drummer, pianist, dancer, band leader and composer…among other things. Jonny spent a few minutes talking about his background and his connections to in Ears n’ Eyes but the students were most eager to paint. We decided to start the students collaboration with Jonny playing solo on the drum set.

Jonny began and the action on paper was immediate. Some students felt the pulse of the drums and reacted in rhythm, others moved to their own groove while clearly being influenced by the sounds they were hearing. Rog and I moved around the room assisting wherever needed and encouraging collaboration between the artists. Some students took to the idea of collaborating instantly, sharing paints, brushes, space in the artwork, even chairs! Others were clearly NOT into the idea of collaborating and marked off their own space in no uncertain terms. Some eventually gave in and worked with their partners while some needed extra encouragement.

When Jonny ended his piece, some artists kept working, others had finished already and were watching the action or talking to their painting partners. We let the action settle down a bit and, as we prepared to launch into another piece, we paused to talk about the drums. What did they hear? What resonated in the painters’ mind and what was impossible to capture? What sounds elicited the most visual reactions? What sounds were ignored or omitted from the painting? We took some notes and made mental notes to listen and watch for some of the things we discussed.

Matt took a moment to mention that the interaction between Jonny and the painters was quite different than our IENE performances with roger and any number of musicians. In our case, we can all see Roger when we play and the compositions sometimes use Roger’s actions as visual cues for sections of the music or motifs or solos or whatever else the composers have dreamed up. In a class this large, with a group of painters collaborating in twos, the musicians  cannot see much of the student’s work. This day’s workshop is a different approach. As an aside, IENE  could explore this approach in a future IENE performance; deliberately blocking the musicians’ view of Roger to see what transpires in his artwork. Hmmmm.

The next piece was another collaboration between the pairs of painters and Jonny and Matt did a duet improv on the tenor sax and drums. Some students couldn’t wait to paint which was totally fine but we tried to start the process together as an ensemble. Once the ‘conversation’ began, Roger worked with pairs of students to succinctly discuss and encourage their process. Matt and Jonny started rhythmically with bursts of sounds. Matt walked up and down the rows of tables interacting with the painters and tried to see what they were doing. Sometimes he played to prod the painters. Sometimes he interpreted the painting by responding to the painters while trying to develop the conversation. At one point Roger offered the students mat board scrapers to carve away thick accumulations of paints to expose the under layers of color. Simultaneously Matt relayed the action to Jonny who is tied down by the drum set and cannot  move among the painters and their paintings. As with our first class, the second painting is more thoughtful of the in Ears ‘n Eyes concept. One student, awestruck by the colors revealed by scraping, exclaimed to Roger, why to the colors emerge, how are they still there?” Roger explained that some of the initial colors laid down had dried while others had been absorbed into the paper. In that moment, while exploring process, led by his curiosity, the student had discovered and understood a new valuable technique. Students were clearly aware of all the input they received from the musicians and and many realized that the musicians were responding to their actions and artwork they were producing.  How wonderful to be inspired by the possibilities of this type of collaboration!


IENE Residency at PMAC with Saint Patrick School

St Patrick School students get in the IENE groove

St Patrick School students get in the IENE groove in Haas Hall at PMAC

Roger Goldenberg and Matt Langley have started a 6 week in Ears ‘n’ Eyes Visual Jazz residency at PMAC with students from Saint Patrick School in Portsmouth, NH. On Wednesday, September 4th, 30 students arrived in Haas Hall at the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center for their first taste of visual jazz. Chris Klaxton joined Roger and Matt for the first session during which he played piano and trumpet and gave many insights to the students on his approach to communicating through music and art.

After an explanation of the Visual Jazz concept and a demonstration by Roger, Chris and Matt, the students were very eager to put some paint in motion. Chris and Matt began an improvisation with Tenor Saxophone and Piano. Starting slowly, they gave each student artist a chance to listen closely to the sound of the instruments and to the sounds and shapes of the lines Chris and Matt were playing back and forth. Matt walked around the room to interact with each artist and to get a direct look at the artwork, responding to the artists as well as Chris’ piano.  While this creative conversation unfolded Roger offered encouragement to any tentative students and offered all the students insights into creating their visual conversation on their paper.  The piece concluded with some of the students completing their work immediately and some still painting and trying to capture what they had just heard.


In Ears ‘n’ Eyes vocabulary of characteristics of Music and Painting generated by the St. Patrick’s Middle School students. They did a great job!

While a few finished their work, Roger, Chris and Matt started a discussion about some characteristics of Music and Painting. There was a lot of interaction with the students and they provided a wealth of ideas. The next step? Try to find shared characteristics between the art forms. This set many minds in motion and also helped add to the lists of characteristics.

Ready and waiting!

Ready and waiting! Rog catches a snack before the students arrive.

With this in mind, students started a new work on a clean sheet of paper. The results of the discussions were immediately apparent as many students chose a particular characteristic or two to explore more deeply. Chris and Matt talked briefly before beginning another improvisation and agreed to provide some starker contrasts between sections of the improv, experimenting with different grooves and styles. Chris also played some trumpet in this improv, drawing the attention of the young artists to the new sounds and causing them to react quickly with new visual ideas.

The second round of paintings were very different in many cases. Students experimented with density of paint a lot more, using their painted hands to print rhythms and shapes, trying out drips to express motion and a myriad of invented shape to express their impressions of the music. Roger traversed the room to encourage the students, offering technical suggestions based on the style of each student’s painting. For students whose work was dense, perhaps overworked, Roger provided improvised tools made of mat board for scraping and drawing into the paint to reveal the colors that were hidden, yet preserved underneath. Many students seemed to mix colors more to try and achieve some of the characteristics that were discussed in between the two paintings. The results were exciting. Roger and Matt are excited to explore more possibilities when the class meets again. Our guest in the second of the six sessions will be Jonny Peiffer and we’re looking forward to digging into the sounds and rhythms of Jonny’s drumming as well as his piano playing.

In Ears ‘n Eyes at TEDx Piscataqua River 2014

Roger Goldenberg and Matt Langley were invited to open up the afternoon at this year’s TEDx Piscataqua River. Just after lunch, Rog and Matt took the stage before an energized and inspired audience. The duo debuted Matt’s tune, “Cliff Hanger” inspired by and dedicated to the great Clifford Jordan.

in Ears ‘n Eyes performs regularly before audiences and offer creativity workshops in schools and in the corporate workplace.

IENE at Portsmouth Middle School

IENE at Portsmouth Middle School

IENE in the classroom at Portsmouth Middle School. Photo: Lysa Burns

in Ears ‘n Eyes spent four days in the art classrooms at Portsmouth Middle School in March 2014 as part of art teacher Anna Nuttall’s NHSCA’s grant funded project, Voice, Vision and Verve: The Harlem Renaissance. Our contribution to the project would get the students collaborating with the IENE ensemble; Chris Klaxton, Taylor O’Donnell, Jonny Peiffer, Scott Keifner, Matt Langley and artist/musician Roger Goldenberg. The goal was to experience and explore the possibilities of collaboration between audio and visual art. (>>checkout the Portsmouth Herald article on IENE<<)

Jonny Peiffer and a Portsmouth Middle School Student create some visual jazz

Jonny Peiffer works with a student from Portsmouth Middle School on a visual jazz collaboration. Photo:Lysa Burns

We planned two days of workshops for approximately eighty eighth graders. The goals of the first day included playing/painting for the students. Introductions of each member of in Ears n’ Eyes to give the students some ideas about different approaches to life as an artist. A brief discussion about some possible opposites to explore as they apply to music and visual art. A brief demonstration of ONE of the sets of opposites; loud/soft, as interpreted by the musicians while Roger painted. Then a collaboration of each member of the IENE ensemble with a group of student artists using a single canvas for the group and a single musician communicating with the artists.

iene_pms2014_workshop2_webThe results of the first day were exhilarating to say the least. Students were very interested in the performance of the ensemble and offered a lot of ideas for opposites to explore musically and visually. When they got a chance to paint, the room came to life in a blur of sound and color. Each “line” of artists collaborated directly with their musician. Scott Keifner’s artists produced a work that reflected his use of arco technique on the bass with flowing lines and luxurious curves. Taylor O’Donnell’s artists produced a similarly flowing work which more closely represented the sound of her voice. Jonny Peiffer’s artists responded to his drumming with short, often jagged, bursts of color that gave an incredible feel of rhythm and pulse. Trumpeter Chris Klaxton communicated with his artists using the entire range of his instrument’s pitch and sonic possibilities producing a work that flowed, hopped, bopped and splattered and Chris paused to paint his contribution to work as well.

Students at Portsmouth Middle School collaborate with the IENE ensemble and their fellow students creating visual jazz in collaboration with the music being played

Students at Portsmouth Middle School collaborate with the IENE ensemble and their fellow students creating visual jazz in collaboration with the music being played. Photo: Lysa Burns

On day two of the workshop students got a chance to try their hand at joining the band as well as working on their own canvas as an artist. The day started with revisiting the “opposites” to see if any new ideas had cropped up based on day one’s experiences. We then created a “composition” based on a selection of opposites. The class was split into artists and band members. Color pallets were prepared for each artist while the IENE musicians worked with students to prepare them for communicating and collaborating with artists. Listen, listen, listen  and when in doubt, stop and listen! Artists took their places, musicians silenced and then, BAM!, notes and colors came to life on a composition that was created by all, on the fly, in REAL TIME!

The results of the IENE workshop were fantastic. Students commented that working with live musicians was totally unique to anything they had experience artistically to this point and that they felt the music and art were definitely linked and a result of the collaboration. Teachers Anna Nuttall and Diedre Shea worked closely with the IENE artists to produce a very thoughtful and tactile experience for their students and this workshop could not have happened without their hard work and dedication.

In Ears ‘n’ Eyes 2013 – Event Synopsis

In Ears ‘n’ Eyes (IENE) is a performing ensemble that treats ones ears and eyes to new conversations in jazz idioms, both visual and auditory. This season’s In Ears ‘n’ Eyes fused painting, song, poetry, modal, tonal, bebop and classically inspired compositions into an astoundingly original cultural event. IENE presented 5 original compositions plus one original arrangement based on a poem by Czelaw Milosz.

Painting by Roger Goldenberg to Rob Gerry’s score Broad Strokes

Painting by Roger Goldenberg to Rob Gerry’s score Broad Strokes

Past IENE performances have included jazz tap and video, but this iteration offered something new. In Ears ‘n’ Eyes 2013 enjoyed the addition of vocalist Taylor O’Donnell. She presented her arrangement for ‘voices,’ of Milosz’ poem Love, set to the music of Sam Sadigursky. Composer/musician Jonny Peiffer arranged his composition ‘Starlings,’ which is based on the intuitive, mesmerizing movement that starlings display when they migrate in flocks. New compositions will be debuted by Rob Gerry, Eric Klaxton, Zach Lange, Chris Klaxton and Matt Langley. Matt offered this about his piece. “It’s taking shape, Matt stated.” Chuckling, he continued, “No really, my piece is called Taking Shape. It explores the link between lines, spaces and shapes as they relate to art and music and shows how the two genres effect each other using written and improvised musical material.”

Goldenberg painting to Chris Klaxton’s composition You Gotta Start Somewhere. Chris is conducting and performing in foreground

Goldenberg painting to Chris Klaxton’s composition You Gotta Start Somewhere. Chris is conducting and performing in foreground.

Each piece in the performance is designed to develop conversations with each performer: the instrumentalists, painter and vocalist. Rob Gerry’s piece has classical roots uses voicings and contrapuntal melodies with a straight eighth approach while Chris Klaxton’s song builds from a single tone into a full-blown discussion as Goldenberg’s painting develops similarly. Because the production intended to engage the audience as Participant, each composer said a few words about their compositions and in some performances the audience has been invited to participate.

Matt Langley conducting the 12 piece ensemble’s performance of his composition Taking Shape at the 2013 presentation of In Ears ‘n’ Eyes at the Dance Hall, Kittery, ME.

Matt Langley conducting the 12 piece ensemble’s performance of his composition Taking Shape at the 2013 presentation of In Ears ‘n’ Eyes at the Dance Hall, Kittery, ME.

The concept for In Ears ‘n’ Eyes germinated about 4 years ago after Roger Goldenberg performed his first improvisational painting with pianist Mike Melvoin at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center during the Class of 59 reunion. Goldenberg was already thinking of his artwork as visual jazz, however, and it was the inventive mind of Goldenberg’s friend Matt Langley that suggested the alchemy resulting in In Ears ‘n’ Eyes. In fact, it was Matt who came up with its moniker. Matt proposed a robust collaboration that would combine Roger’s visual jazz with performing jazz musicians. Goldenberg hesitated to make this leap because he had yet to work out the logistical details of mixing colors on stage during a performance. The idea percolated in Goldenberg for about a year. Roger commented on his hesitancy, “The painting process is so much slower than music-making. I worry that watching me mix paint for a couple of hours would be only slightly more interesting than watching the paint dry.” In 2012 Goldenberg’s logistical dilemma was solved and his performer chops began to be honed during his onstage performance in the West End Theatre’s production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris. And now that a number of performances of In Ears ‘n’ Eyes are under their belts, these adventurous performers are working to deepen the level of murmuration and conversation between their instruments and genres; always thinking of new ways to present their material, how to include yet untapped genres for future performances and how they will integrate these into upcoming educational creativity and performance workshops.

Trumpeter Zach Lange exchanging some licks with Goldenberg during the performance of Taking Shape, a composition by Saxophonist/Composer Matt Langley

Trumpeter Zach Lange exchanging some licks with Goldenberg during the performance of Taking Shape, a composition by Saxophonist/Composer Matt Langley.

The performance at the Dance Hall on March 9th marked another landmark for In Eyes ‘n’ Ears. This performance was recorded. The documentation was done by videographer Amanda Kowalski (Amanda Kowalski Photo) and sound engineer Chris Chase (1130ft Creative Media). The reason for the recording was to document the performance as an educational resource, to register IENE on NHSCA Artist/Teacher’s Roster and to promote In Ears ‘n’ Eyes workshops and performances to schools and universities in NH and beyond.

Taylor O’Donnell vocalizing on a In Ears ‘n’ Eyes jazz tune with Chris Klaxton on trumpe

Taylor O’Donnell vocalizing on a In Ears ‘n’ Eyes jazz tune with Chris Klaxton on trumpet

In fact, Roger Goldenberg received the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts’ prestigious Artist Entrepreneurial Grant Award to partially fund the creation of this video. At the end of March, Goldenberg will file the video with The Council when he registers In Eyes ‘n’ Ears on NHSCA Artist/Teacher’s Roster. The Artist/Teacher’s Roster is a tool used by New Hampshire schools as a resource for finding quality, visiting artists for their schools and for artists to promote the sale of their workshops to schools. One of the musicians commented “We are all experienced and devoted educators, so it’s a no-brainer that we present educational workshops in our schools.”

A group of energized IENE workshop participants ranging in age from 12 to 70 years of age.

A group of energized IENE workshop participants ranging in age from 12 to 70 years of age.

To date, a condensed version of an In Eyes ‘n’ Ears educational workshop was presented at the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center to an all-ages contingent of students numbering eleven. The ages ranged from 12 to 70 something. “It was a blast!” exclaimed Skylar, a 12-year-old drummer. In March 2014, In Ears ‘n’ Eyes has been hired to present a workshop and performance at the Portsmouth Middle School during the art department’s Harlem Renaissance project. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts awarded the middle school art department its Artist Residencies in Schools for Art Learning Grant to fund the project.

Action shot of saxophonist Jim Swisher painting during an In Ears ‘n’ Eyes Creativity Workshop.

Action shot of saxophonist Jim Swisher painting during an In Ears ‘n’ Eyes Creativity Workshop.

The In Eyes ‘n’ Ears performance on March 9th was held The Dance Hall in Kittery. The Dance Hall is the recently restored historic Kittery Grange Hall and has been charmingly transformed into the long-dreamed of venue for dance and community building by Drika Overton, the hall’s founder and director. The Dance Hall of Kittery, Maine is a not-for-profit 501C3 and was the perfect venue for IENE’s night of improvisation. It is an intimate, unobstructed open space with a stage, tastefully restored by local craftsman John Boley reusing its original architectural elements.

The night’s performance underscored Overton’s vision of providing a community based performance and cultural venue that is affordable to local musicians so they can offer daring inventive performances of their craft.

A raffle and silent auction was held. The paintings created at the event were for sale by silent auction throughout the performance and was concluded at the end of the evening. One painting was sold by raffle and the proceeds helped cover costs of production, hall rental, and provided a modest stipend for the musicians.

The paintings created at In Ears ‘n Eyes 3/9/2013:
(click image for larger view & description)


What: In Ears ‘n’ Eyes

Where: The Dance Hall, 7 Walker Ave, Kittery, ME

When: Saturday, March 9th, 2013, 7 – 9:30 pm

Who: Roger Goldenberg, visual jazz; Matt Langley, Nick Mainella, Eric Klaxton, saxes; Zach Lange and Chris Klaxton, trumpets; Brandon Newbould, trombone; Mike Effenberger, keys; Jonny Peiffer, dms, keys; Eric Von Oeyen, dms; Taylor O’Donnell, vocals; RobGerry, bass.

Thank you,

Please contact us for further information: roger@rgpaints.com or mattlangley@comcast.net



in ears ‘n eyes at buoy 7/20!

What: In Ears ‘n’ Eyes Performance and Exhibition @ Buoy

Where: The Buoy Gallery, 2 Government Street, Kittery, ME

When: Saturday, July 20th, 7 pm

Who: The Econo Combo: Roger Goldenberg, visual jazz; Matt Langley, saxes; Chris Klaxton, trumpet/keys; Jonny Peiffer, drums/keys; Taylor O’Donnell, vocals/keys, cameo appearance, Zach Lange, trumpet.


In Ears ‘n’ Eyes is a visual and auditory sensation that will treat ones ears and eyes to new conversations in jazz idioms. This season’s In Ears ‘n’ Eyes fuses painting, song, poetry, modal, tonal, bebop and classically inspired compositions into an astoundingly original not-to-be-missed cultural event.


This performance at the Buoy Gallery trumpets the opening of the First Exhibition of paintings created at In Ears ‘n’ Eyes performances included those painted this very night. The ambience for evening will powered by a backdrop of Goldenberg’s improvised visual jazz performance paintings while the In Eyes ‘n’ Ears econo–combo creates new artwork before your eyes and within arms reach. The musicians will surprise the audience with inverted standards, something new and off the wall, and some original compositions arranged for this nimble ensemble.


Tickets are a very affordable $5 to encourage everyone to join in the fun, though supplemental donations are accepted. Ticket sales, supplemental donations and a portion of the night’s proceeds will go to The Buoy Gallery to help support their continued operation and community service. Thank you Buoy!

In keeping with the tradition of In Eyes ‘n’ Ears, the paintings created that night will be offered by silent auction. One pre-selected painting will be offered by raffle. All paintings in the exhibition are for sale.

Please contribute to the Seacoast’s unique, vibrant cultural scene by coming to join in the fun on Saturday, July 20th, 7pm at Buoy. All ages are welcome.