Joan La Barbara in Messa di Voce

A New York Times review of Messa di Voce:

New York Times Review

An ARTonAIR interview with Joan La Barbara, Jaap Blonk and Zachary Lieberman:

ARTonAIR

A WFMU interview with Trevor Wishart:

WFMU with Trevor Wishart

The Human Voice
in a New World

In February 2009, Electronic Music Foundation presented a series of three concerts exploring new levels of meaning and expressivity for the human voice through technology.

Concert 1

Joan La Barbara
Jaap Blonk
Messa di Voce
Monday, February 23. 8pm
Frederick Loewe Theater

Messa di Voce, a state-of-the-art multimedia performance produced in collaboration with the NYU Interactive Arts Series, featured extreme vocal techniques by master composer-improvisers Joan La Barbara and Jaap Blonk and dynamically-generated visualizations of vocal sound and audio processing by Tmema (Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman).

Concert 2

Trevor Wishart
Joel Chadabe
Richard Kostelanetz

Friday, February 27. 7:30pm
Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South

The program included two NY premieres by British electronic music pioneer and vocal performer Trevor Wishart in his first performance in New York City in 30 years, and the world premiere of a collaborative performance between composer Joel Chadabe and writer Richard Kostelanetz.

Concert 3

Bora Yoon
David Moss

Saturday, February 28, 7:30pm
Judson Church, 55 Washington Square South

The dynamic Bora Yoon performed her sumliminal exploration ( (( PHONATION )) ). David Moss, acclaimed for his intense, humor-filled idiosyncratic vocal acrobatics, followed with a dazzling performance of Voice Box Spectra.

· · ·

Generous support for these concerts was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support was provided by Meet The Composer's JPMorganChase Regrant Program for Small Ensembles, Amphion Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund, and Alice M. Ditson Fund. This event was made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

 

↓ Concert program

PROGRAM


Monday, February 23, 8pm

Messa di Voce....................................................................... Tmema (Golan Levin and Zachary Lieberman)
Composed and performed by Joan La Barbara and Jaap Blonk

Friday, February 27, 7:30pm

Micro Fictions ..................................................................................................................... Joel Chadabe
    Words by Richard Kostelanetz

Vocalise ............................................................................................ Vocal improvisation by Trevor Wishart

Globalalia........................................................................................................................... Trevor Wishart
    Fixed media

Saturday, February 28, 7:30pm

( (( PHONATION )) )................................................................................................................. Bora Yoon

Voice Box Spectra.................................................................................................................. David Moss

ABOUT THE ARTISTS


Golan Levin

Golan Levin creates artifacts and events which explore supple new modes of reactive expression. His work focuses on the design of systems for the creation, manipulation and performance of simultaneous image and sound, as part of a more general inquiry into the formal language of interactivity, and of nonverbal communications protocols in cybernetic systems. Levin is Associate Professor of Electronic Art at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.


Zach Lieberman
Zach Lieberman is an artist, engineer, and educator whose work is focused on exploring the creative and human uses of technology. He produces installations, on-line works and concerts concerned with the themes of kinetic and gestural performance, interactive imaging and sound synthesis. Lieberman lives and works in New York City, where he teaches courses in audio-visual synthesis and creative image processing at Parsons School of Design.

Jaap Blonk

Jaap Blonk is a composer, voice performer and sound poet. In reciting poetry, he discovered the directness and flexibility of vocal utterance, whether using meaningful words or not. At present, he has developed into a prolific writer/composer, and a specialist in the performance of sound poetry, supported by a powerful stage presence and an almost childlike freedom in improvisation.

Joan La Barbara

Joan La Barbara has been called one of the great vocal virtuosos of our time. A pioneer in sound art, she has developed a unique vocabulary of extended vocal techniques, including multiphonics, circular singing, ululation, and glottal clicks. In addition to her own work, she has premiered landmark compositions written for her by Robert Ashley, John Cage, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Morton Subotnick, and James Tenney.

Joel Chadabe

Joel Chadabe, composer, author, is a pioneer in the development of interactive music systems. His music has been performed worldwide and recorded on EMF Media, Deep Listening, and other labels. He is the author of 'Electric Sound', a history of electronic music. He has received grants from NEA, NYSCA, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and he is the recipient of the SEAMUS 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Richard Kostelanetz

Richard Kostelanetz, writer, artist, has contributed poems, stories, articles, and experimental prose to magazines internationally; and written and edited more than fifty books of criticism, cultural history, creative work, and anthologies. He has created and exhibited language-based audiotapes, videotapes, films, and holograms. His audiovideotapes have been presented at Anthology Film Archives (New York) and Bumbershoot (Seattle).

Trevor Wishart

Trevor Wishart's works have won prizes at the Gaudeamus Festival and Ars Electronica. He has held residencies in Australia, Canada, Holland, Berlin and the USA. His is the author of On Sonic Art (1985) and Audible Design (1994) and many software tools for musical composition. He is Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of York and a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham.

David Moss

David Moss is one of the most innovative singers and percussionists in contemporary music. He has appeared at the Salzburg Festival as featured soloist in the premiere of Luciano Berio's Cronaca del Luogo and performed the part of Prinz Orlovsky, in Hans Neuenfels production of Die Fledermaus. He is the co-founder and artistic director of the Institute for Living Voice (ILV).

Bora Yoon

Bora Yoon is an experimental multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer. She has toured internationally and performed at Lincoln Center, Bang on a Can Marathon, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Nam June Paik Museum in Seoul. She has been commissioned by the Young People's Chorus of NYC and the SAYAKA Ladies' Consort of Tokyo to create the surround-sound choral performance works.

ABOUT THE MUSIC

Concert 1

Messa di Voce (Ital., "Showplace for the Voice") is an audiovisual performance in which extreme vocal techniques produced by two abstract vocalists are radically augmented in real-time by custom interactive visualization software. The performance touches on themes of abstract communication, synaesthetic relationships, cartoon language, and writing and scoring systems, within the context of a sophisticated, playful, and virtuoso audiovisual narrative.

Tmema's software transforms every vocal nuance into correspondingly complex, subtly differentiated and highly expressive graphics. These visuals not only depict the singers' voices, but also serve as controls for their acoustic playback. While the voice-generated graphics thus become an instrument which the singers can perform, body-based manipulations of these graphics additionally replay the sounds of the singers' voices — thus creating a cycle of interaction that fully integrates the performers into an ambience consisting of sound, virtual objects and real-time processing.



Messa di Voce lies at an intersection of human and technological performance extremes, melding the unpredictable spontaneity and extended vocal techniques of two master composer-improvisers with the latest in computer vision and speech analysis technologies. Utterly wordless, yet profoundly verbal, Messa di Voce is designed to provoke questions about the meaning and effects of speech sounds, speech acts, and the immersive environment of language.

Here is a preview of what is to come:

Messa di Voce Video

And, an interview with Joan La Barbara and Jaap Blonk, the performers of Messa di Voce:

Joan La Barbara and Jaap Blonk at Arts Electric


Concert 2

About Micro Fictions, composer Joel Chadabe states, "The Micro Fictions project began a few years ago when Richard Kostelanetz called me to ask if I'd be interested in working on a composition with him. Richard, who I've known for some time, has been called the world's most experimental writer. His interests during the past many years have included a great variety of literary forms, including extreme minimalism, one example of it being stories and narratives told as or within single words, each of which suggests a narrative. The specific project he had in mind for me to compose a series of settings for his Micro Fictions. I thought of it as an interesting idea. In fact, as an opportunity. I understood my task to be that of composing musical settings that would complement the words, enhance the narrative, and expand the experience of each word with the sounds that I composed."

Vocalise, for amplified voice, is about the potential of the human voice, inspired by a confluence of events. Wishart explains: "In the 1970s, around the time that Stockhausen's Stimmung appeared, I was a student at York Uni (UK). I found that I could produce Stockhausen’s harmonics quite easily, and began to explore what else might be possible with the voice. Simultaneously, I met Warren Burt, who passed through York, and we exchanged vocal noises (!), a timely encounter. During this time, I was morphing sounds in the studio for the tape piece Red Bird. I learned that in an analogue studio this was almost impossible, except with the voice. The voice is so malleable I found I could imitate almost any sound at all, and hence make a transformation from the recognizable vocal to something else. I was also involved in the Musicians Collective free improvisation scene in the UK, and performed both vocally and with found objects. I soon began to systematically catalogue everything I could do with my own voice, and extend the possibilities by systematic research. However, my improvisations are entirely spontaneous, based on many years experience of what my own voice can do when in a tight corner."

Globalalia is a fixed media piece. As Wishart tells it, "It was made with over-syllable samples, taken from radio and TV broadcasts from around the world, then assembled on a desktop computer using the Composers Desktop Project software. Globalalia was performed as part of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's IRCAM concert, on a program of works by Jonathan Harvey and Karlheinz Stockhausen, at City Hall, Glasgow, on Saturday April 12th, 2008."


Excerpt from Trevor Wishart

      Read an interview with Trevor Wishart here:

Trevor Wishart at Arts Electric


Concert 3

According to Bora Yoon, ( (( PHONATION )) ) explores where sound connects to the subliminal through the timbre languages of the voice, found sounds, new and antiquated instruments, and electronic devices. Using a sound designer’s approach to performance composition that is steered by a penchant for a song, ( (( PHONATION )) ) engages with music as music, and not as part of a genre, taking the means to one end, and using it for another, to form new utterances of sound and the beginnings of a new sonic language, within its spatial and architectural context. In every case, a particular sonic geography is evoked that might be inspired by a simple, found-sound in the world, or an expression of a sonic paradox bouncing around only in the mind.

Voice Box Spectra, David Moss states, "explores moments of faster-than-logic (FTL) communication through new songs, scrambled texts, tangled stories and odd electronics and objects. Moss exposes a world full of information, mumbling, codes, languages, noise and knowledge, with people and black boxes connecting or mixing them all. With this piece, I question the existence of an UR-knowledge, or a proto-language. Somewhere in our data-streamed meta-morphing in/out world, there must be a rhythm that drives the human genetic package. Is it a pulse, a beat, a chant buried somewhere in the depths of our memories, neuron chains and chemical hieroglyphics? Does it give a hint of itself through the sounds and singing of the human voice? Could be, as we have always experienced moments of species transcendence which, when we are least aware of it, are expressed through our voices. Sometimes what is being communicated can’t be expressed in any grammar or speech system, only in music and song: modified, mediated and manipulated by technology’s babbling boxes, and the muscles, blood, and air that fuel the voice."


Excerpt from David Moss