oyster is a new opera (in progress) about a surprising precursor to last.fm and Pandora. In the 1960’s, renowned American folklorist Alan Lomax developed a wildly ambitious system called cantometrics for coding and analyzing folk songs from every corner of the world. The opera is structured as a public lecture of Alan Lomax’s folk song analysis as demonstrated by four singers, who embody the IBM360 mainframe computer used to correlate his vast amounts of data. Working with the BOTCH vocal ensemble, I am reconstructing the folksong styles from regions as disparate as Bali, West Africa, and Central America using only the data from Lomax’s study. Things like melodic complexity, vocal blend, and nasality, are adjusted by the singers as they circumnavigate the globe. This data vocalization is further mediated by the ensemble’s distinctive extended vocal techniques, and is accompanied by a film narrative that unravels connections between cybernetics, surrealism and ethnography. The film also features a wide range of material drawn from the Alan Lomax archive at The Library of Congress.
oyster will be performed on February 20 and 21 at 8pm (doors open at 7pm) at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn. Tickets will be available to purchase shortly, at roulette.org.
Music, video, and libretto by Joe Diebes
Featuring: John Rose, Christina Campanella, Michael Chinworth, and Saori Tsukada
Live Staging: Phil Soltanoff
Lighting Design: Poe Saegusa
Cinematography for video: Damian Calvo
Make-Up/Costumes for video: Naomi Raddatz
The AquaSonic underwater concert by Between Music, takes the audience on a unique and fascinating voyage into uncharted territory. Equipped with custom-made underwater instruments four musicians and singers submerge themselves completely in water in each their man-sized water tank. From the watery depths they deliver visual performance, art installation and concert in one; from silent warm waves of euphony to ocean-like deep rumbling, and roaring soundscapes of another world.
The groundbreaking work of getting a four piece band to play and perform under water highlights the deeply passionate and slightly mad inventor mindset that drives Between Music. The creation of the work has required years of experimentation and countless test-runs in close collaboration with everything from dedicated deep-sea divers to imaginative instrument makers and brilliant scientists -people driven by the same urge to break new ground and challenge existing worldviews. This has led to the development of a number of highly peculiar underwater instruments such as hydraulophone, violin, electromagnetic harp, chimes and percussion, as well as a distinctive vocal technique for underwater singing. The result is a concert experience out of the ordinary; a deep dive into a compelling visual universe and a new world of sound. It is organic, raw, aesthetic – and deeply original. AquaSonic is brimming with curiosity and fascination with the unknown that permeates the water tanks and waves in over the audience.
composition & play: Laila Skovmand
performance: Robert Karlsson, Morten Poulsen, Dea Maria Kjeldsen, Nanna Bech
light design: Adalsteinn Stefansson
sound design: Anders Boll
production: Between Music, FuturePerfect Productions
May 27th-29th, 2016, Opera Days Rotterdam
Imagine getting in a car without knowing the destination. Sharing the car are singers, actors, and instrumentalists who draw you into a story. The car stops at an incredible site, where another chapter of the story commences – until another car pulls up, with different artists, depicting another chapter of the story.
And so on, and so on, in a 90-minute journey throughout the unsuspecting city.
Robot Opera (2015), is a robotic opera for eight semi-autonomous robot performers. The work has been realised by Wade Marynowsky (robotic artist) in collaboration with Julian Knowles (music/sound) and Branch Nebula (lighting, dramaturgy). Informed by the underlying fields of creative robotics, mediatised performance, music, and interactive media art, the project merges artist driven algorithmic / choreographic concepts with audience driven agency within a large scale performance interaction space 42 x 25m. The project brings together core areas of investigation within these disciplines by establishing a performative context to explore the concept of robotic performance agency.
The project fast forwards the Wagnerian concept of (Gesamtkunstwerk) ‘The Total Art Work’ (1895) into the present, through combinations of movement, sound, light and interaction. Whilst futuristic, Robot Opera draws on a multitude of historic reference points, visually the work embraces minimalist sculpture and the machine aesthetic. Julian Knowles’ musical score interrogates the notion of opera with reference to the history of science fiction film soundtrack, the sonic language of robots in popular culture and the aesthetics of digital sound. Whilst in the context of performance art we acknowledge the tradition of breaking the fourth wall: Alan Kaprow; La Fura Del Baus etc. Importantly, the work also draws on the traditions of electronic music, sound art, media art and performance art cultures experienced personally from the 1990’s.
Robot Opera seeks to rethink what opera and performance is, or can be. By placing non-anthropomorphic robots in place of human performers we question, at what stage or within which contexts can a robot be perceived to ‘perform’ convincing agency?
An opera-requiem, IYOV is a story of the biblical character Job’s life, pride and disbelief. Named for the Hebrew word for Job, IYOV centers on the man’s search for life’s meaning through a synthesis of musical and theatrical techniques ranging from ancient Greek drama to baroque opera and more. Combining minimalism and the avant-garde, neoclassicism and rock, the music of IYOVfeatures polyphonic choral episodes and instrumental interludes that alternate with a full range of the human voice: everything from classical, jazz and folk singing to breathing, screaming, whispering and overtone singing. At the center of IYOV’s musical landscape is an exceptional piano that sonically transforms into a self-contained orchestra, echoing a harpsichord, drums, and even a synthesizer and other electronic instruments. An extraordinary Ukrainian opera, IYOV blends an emotional journey, the birth of a new sound, and the endless possibilities of the human voice.
Director Vladyslav Troitskyi
Conductor & Composer Roman Grygoriv
Composer Illia Razumeiko
Live Video Mixer Mariia Volkova
Lighting Designer Nataliya Perchyshena
Sound Engineer Caley Monahon-Ward
Actor Tetiana Troitska
Singer Mariana Holovko
Singer Ruslan Kirsh
Singer Andrii Koshman
Singer Hanna Marych
Singer Yevhen Rakhmanin
Singer Oleksandra Turyanska
Instrumentalist Zhanna Marchinska
Instrumentalist Andrii Nadolskyi
Instrumentalist Illia Razumeiko
IYOV was created in 2015 at the order of the festival of contemporary art, GogolFest. IYOV is made possible by the Trust for Mutual Understanding.
Show Run Time: 70 Minutes
Photo by Vasyl Osadchyi
Premiere: September 21, 2015, GogolFest
VIOLA is a short opera installation in public space. The audience is sitting inside a pharmacy and looks through the shop windows, watching the train station square. There sings in monologue Viola, a confused and sad woman, disillusioned, lost. The voice of singer Martina Koppelstetter is transmitted through a wireless microphone onto transducers: devices which convert the big glass panes of the shop windows into loudspeakers, creating a sounding membrane between the inside and the outside. She sings mostly for herself, then she refers from time to time to (real or virtual) pedestrians, later also to the audience. Finally she disappears in anonymity again. Only loneliness remains.
Cally Spooner developed And You Were Wonderful, On Stage, a peripatetic musical (music composition: Peter Joslyn), over the course of two years. The piece was delivered by a chorus line of women, gossiping about celebrities, athletes and politicians who have outsourced their performances to a technology, with examples including Beyoncé’s lip-syncing scandal during the presidential inauguration, Lance Armstrong’s Oprah-mediated apology for his use of doping, and speechwriter Jon Favreau’s departure from the White House in pursuit of a career as a Hollywood scriptwriter. The chorus’ libretto was based on meeting notes from an advertising agency, on how to extract personally disclosed stories and aspirations from employees and repackage them to better reflect the voice of their corporation as a tv-commercials.
Distinct groups of performers seem oblivious to one another: an opera singer announces five scenes in the guise of television hosts, a chorus line generate soundtrack at static microphones, dancers -governed by in-ear sound systems produce a repetitive image of movement while technical crew follow shot-lists, which most often privilege empty space and apparatus. As floor managers assemble, dis-assemble then re-assemble uninhabited stage-sets, the production team call cuts to pre-recorded commercial breaks, from a distant control room.
In the installation at the Stedelijk Museum, filmic composition becomes a by-product of a process; where these several well-rehearsed units of performers produce a forty-six minute non-stop motion, which sometimes creates coherency, and at other times does not. The six camera feeds are presented on five screens, with their chronology and technical mishaps left untouched, in an installation that has more in common with a live choreographic event, than cinema.