University of Rochester

Performance Poets Win University's 1995 Fairchild Award

June 13, 1996

MurMur, a three-man poetry performance group, has received the 1995 Lillian Fairchild Award, administered by the University of Rochester.

Michael Ives, Robert Kulik, and Richard Scott formed MurMur in March 1995 and started performing last summer. They perform "streams of observations," using poetry, comedy, mouth percussion, sound effects, and dance, Ives said.

"What we do is very elusive," he said. "The pieces we do tend to be obsessions on ideas."

Selections include "Just for a Few Minutes," a network of sentences and fragments; "Om Chi Chi" and "Taki Dom," polyrhythmic percussion pieces using nonsense words; and "Wet Cobra," which combines classical Greek with the sounds of radio static and ads to make observations about the world of love and sex.

The trio voices all the sound effects using no props, and improvisational choreography often accompanies the audio.

"It's hard to describe, but the appeal is tremendous," Ives said. "We need a quiet venue so we can hear each other. We're talking at the same time, and it's meticulously timed."

The Fairchild Award is customarily given to a Rochester area resident who has produced during the past year the best visual, literary, or musical work of art. It was established by Herman L. Fairchild of the University's Department of Geology in memory of his daughter Lillian, an accomplished designer who died of tuberculosis at age 32.

The first award was given in 1924. Previous winners include Garth Fagan, director of Garth Fagan Dance; artists Joe and Colleen Hendrick; sculptor William Stewart; and novelist Thomas Gavin.