Remote Livestream #8:
Want to read more about the technology involved in these performances?
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Check out our new resources page!
A note: Since standard choral conducting does not work for live remote performance (in fact, it could be detrimental, due to the latency!), we have dubbed the artistic leaders of each piece "semiconductors." While not conducting in the traditional sense, our semiconductors give important cues to help the ensemble stay together, a task made more complicated in this medium. The term "semiconductor" is also a referential nod to the electronic nature of this performance. Thanks to our semiconductors for learning how best to lead an ensemble in this new world!
by David See
Semiconductor: Melissa Wozniak
Austrian Suite is based on a personal experience when my wife and I were in Graz, Austria a number of years ago, teaching and playing piano for the AIMS summer institute.
The institute is conducted mostly in English, though they had classes in German which I took. When out on the town, of course, you might need to fall back on what German you had mastered. Anyone who learns a language and then starts to try it with native speakers knows that it is easy to overestimate your abilities at first. There is a threshold, though, at which you can just begin to have simple unscripted conversations that hit paydirt, despite the suspense of inevitable mistakes and misunderstandings. It's an exciting and gratifying place to be, and I’m happy to give it a dramatic treatment of sorts! Unfortunately that is about as far as I got in German.
The six extremely brief movements, which appropriate several iconic stock-in-trade musical styles, are:
- Waltz (Ensemble)
- Recitativo (Soprano)
- Up-tempo Country Swing (Alto and Tenor)
- Marche Solenelle (Ensemble)
- Interlude (Ensemble)
- Chorale (Ensemble)
--- David See
We once spent a summer, Lynn and I,
At a music program in Austria
Playing piano for a soprano,
Or with whatever voice was being served.
Our actual work was in Graz,
Though we hit several other cool spots. (Budapest!)
I had studied German in college
So that part wasn't totally strange.
I could make change, read some of the signs,
Order the wines, color within the lines.
I felt at ease to shoot the breeze
and spar with the local burghers.
But one day when I went to a drug store
I said "Grüss Gott”, which you have to do,
And then I knew I was on the spot…
There was in this store a sizable tub of psyllium fiber of interest,
and I, hoping to display an emerging eloquence in the indigenous tongue,
formed a question for the pharmacist,
which I proffered while forgetting all the right suffixes:
Up-tempo Country Swing
"Excusing me pleases, excusing me pleases,
I wants knowing, knowing, yeah, I needs knowing,
Whether if, might you hast this thingy,
If you hast, maybes, have this thingy, sell this thingy,
but smallier, make it smally, a smallier thingy,
I gotta has a smallier size, if it possibles.”
My effort hadn't been too swift.
I'd tossed a verbal Caesar salad.
I looked in his eyes for a sign that he'd gotten my drift
(Makeshift though you could call it).
Well, the pharmacist did not laugh. (Ha, ha!)
He did not offer correction. (Das sind keine worte!)
He didn't even answer me in English,
Which many Europeans will do. (To one-up you!)
He emitted a long-winded answer.
I did feel outwitted, but made out crucial words in his reply...
“YES", “SMALLER", "CAN BUY”, "NOT HERE"
So I said "Thank you!" (Vielen Dank),
Then, on the way out, I sang to myself this little song:
Chorale of Gratitude
The store didn't have what brought me in
So I'll have to keep on looking,
And despite all the skills that I learned, I know
That my German's not quite cooking,
But I have just made my intention clear
And gotten the gist of the words I hear.
We both did have our wits in gear
So I'll call it a win and raise a cheer!
by Anna Heflin
Semiconductor: David See
“My Voice” for choir asks how we as individuals can listen to ourselves within large groups and in our personal relationships. Throughout the majority of the work, the tempo for each singer is determined by their pulse. What is heard is the coming together of each individual listening to their own body as they are here and now. The piece is section based with slight time variations for each section determined by the conductor in the moment. Each performance is a unique expression of individuals coming together as their bodies are in this space and time, noticing and seeing each other with the presence of the audience. The text is adapted from Oscar Wilde’s poem “My Voice”.
- Anna Heflin
My Voice, by Oscar Wilde
Within the restless, hurried, modern world
We took our hearts’ full pleasure—You and I,
And now the white sails of our ships are furled,
And spent the lading of our argosy.
Wherefore my cheeks before their time are wan,
For very weeping is my gladness fled,
Sorrow hath paled my lip’s vermilion
And Ruin draws the curtains of my bed.
But all this crowded life has been to thee
No more than lyre, or lute, or subtle spell
Of viols, or the music of the sea
That sleeps, a mimic echo, in the shell.
by Mario Gullo
Semiconductor: Olivia Cheesman
Over the past year, we have been presenting music online as if we were singing in person. But what if we were ok with it not sounding together and pristine? What if we played with the tools we have at our disposal and see what will happen. Nemesis is the end result. We are trying a thing, just to try it.
- Mario Gullo
This piece has no text.
by Karen Siegel
live remote premiere
Semiconductor: Joshua Chai
I wrote this poem in the spring of 2020, during a time of prolonged sheltering at home amidst the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was suddenly homeschooling two young children with no childcare except for electronics and the limited time my husband could get away from his own work. We debated how long this would last, and we tried not to talk about death in front of the kids as we reeled from the losses in our community and our region. I found comfort in hearing my fellow singers’ voices through headphones as I looked at them on a screen, phone calls with friends and relatives, and late night conversations with my husband; as alluded to in the poem. I channeled my anxiety into poetry and music. Particularly, I dove into what I like to call live remote choral music, designed to connect singers online while circumstances require physical distancing.
“Isolation” was commissioned by the Northern Illinois University Concert Choir, with director Eric Johnson, and developed over the course of a virtual residency with the choir. The original plan was for a live remote performance, with the musicians connected via the internet with the use of audio and video software. As we workshopped early drafts, it became clear that an in-person performance with masks and social distancing would be possible and preferable for the choir; I revised the work accordingly. This version premiered by C4: the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective reverts to the original live remote conception. Due to latency and balance concerns, this version uses solos and a quartet while the in-person version uses some homophony and a semi-chorus. Both versions incorporate the latency inherent in online platforms as an artistic element, with the major use of an aleatoric technique where singers repeat specific phrases purposely out of synch with the others on their voice parts.
-- Karen Siegel
Trying. Each day, trying.
Tune it in or block it out,
Focus while I hear them shout.
Snapping. Insides breaking.
Read the news, forget to blink.
Lie awake too tired to think.
Waiting. Guessing, waiting.
Days are months and months are years.
Grief and loss and loss and tears.
Breathing. Still breathing.
Breath and air and lungs are strong.
Air and sound and sound and song.
Singing. And singing.|
Sing and sigh and sigh and shout.
Let it in and let it out.
Loving. Always loving.
You and me and me and you.
Two then four but always two.
Healing. There’s healing.
Time alone, alone is rare.
Quiet here or quiet there.
Laughing. Still there’s laughing.
Call and laugh and laugh and chat.
You are here is where we’re at.
C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective Members & Guests Performing:
Maureen Broy Papovich
Maureen Broy Papovich
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