VIX Sound+Light+Motion

Voice Over Mind Festival Performance

by on May.09, 2010, under Concerts, Events, Photography

korean translation

Vocals have always been a large part of my performance practice and I have been working on developing even more techniques in vocal improvisation. Every Saturday at 10am, I am now practicing with the Voxy Choir, directed by Kate Hammett-Vaughn and Carol Sawyer. This ensemble offers workshops every week to stretch our performance preconceptions by introducing us to teachers outside of the mainstream of music.

Kate and I have known each other since I used to write reviews and the Women In Music column for Nite Moves magazine in the late 1980’s. More recently, I recorded, mastered and co-produced her CD, So Lucky To Be Me. Kate is a great vocal teacher and very well connected in the Vancouver and Canadian jazz community. This enables her to bring in a variety of talent to lead workshops with Voxy Choir such as her long time musical collaborator, Ron Samworth.

I only met Carol Sawyer recently, but she impresses me with her diversity in artistic practice that encompasses video, photography and other fine arts as well as her imaginative performance art.

Workshop leaders outside of music have included Jay Hirabayashi, best known for his work with Kokoro Dance and  a young man from the theatre, who I was introduced to as Paul. This Saturday, May 8th;  the workshop was at The Western Front with NY performance artist/composer Shelley Hirsch.

Shelley Hirsch was in Vancouver to perform on the Friday evening as part of the Voice Over Mind Festival. Some members of the Voxy Choir, including me, had also participated in part of the festival at the Chan Centre on Wednesday evening under the direction of DB Boyco and Christine Duncan. Shelley will be continuing to perform locally in Seattle, WA and Victoria, BC.

The mixed choir was drawn from Voxy and DB’s students, including members of the Roundhouse Senior’s choir. We sang an adaptation of Songbird, written by Vancouver performer/composer Takeo Yamashiro for the Songbird Oratorio, a homage to the plight of birds surviving the encroachment of urban development. This composition was followed by a conducted improvisation led by both choir directors. I sang in the low section, as most of the choir could only sing in the upper range and I have worked hard to expand my range in the low part of my voice.

Stall ProjectionChristine and DB sang Stall, a newly commissioned work for voice and ambient sounds by one of Canada’s preeminent composers, Christopher Butterfield, explores soundscapes and narratives of the public washroom and is intended to cajole and disturb. The location of the performance might disturb some, as it was in the ladies washroom at the Chan Centre. I found it engaging and amusing. There were snippets of text that were not vocalized, projected on the wall, example at left, and the composer provided some ambient sounds to enhance the performance.

I took some other photos during the rehearsal, but it is difficult to document a performance when you are in it.

This was a cool effect as there was a glass shelf and I was able to use it for an effect in the above photo.  The fast 50mm is great in low light, but I miss being able to change the zoom to frame the image exactly. I would have liked to get Christopher completely reflected while the two singers floated. It is a nice study of the idea though. Below is a better photo of the composer.

It was interesting to sing at The Chan Centre and to attend the rehearsals. I learned more about DB Boyco’s conducting language and her vocal teaching style. I am a great fan of DB and Christine, both individually and as a duo; they have worked together a lot and they compliment each other beautifully. A reprise of the performance will be staged in the city of  Victoria at Open Space Victoria on Sunday, May 9 at 8 p.m.

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