Review: Resonant Bodies Festival Gives Voices Room to Breathe
While the 800-pound gorillas of completely new York’s classical scene, the Metropolitan Opera as well as completely new York Philharmonic, prepare for their season-opening galas, a pluckier, scrappier operation took center stage This specific week. Over three evenings at Roulette in Downtown Brooklyn, the Resonant Bodies Festival presented 45-minute sets by nine different vocalists, three per night. Not just one performance was dull. as well as at least one set per performance was astonishing.
at This specific point in its sixth year, Resonant Bodies will be beginning to spin off satellite presentations elsewhere (in Chicago as well as Melbourne, so far). nevertheless its strength in completely new York will be still from the way the idea can draw together musical scenes from the city in which aren’t always connected.
For example, the singer as well as multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu’s profile will be more prominent in jazz circles than from the contemporary classical world. nevertheless her music — informed by a truly cosmopolitan range of global traditions — existed easily on Wednesday which has a set by the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning composer as well as vocalist Caroline Shaw. (They shared billing with the young composer-performer Nathalie Joachim.) All the idea takes will be someone to program a completely new-music festival in which way: in This specific case, its founder as well as director, Lucy Dhegrae.
In semistaged excerpts via “Nine Doors,” Ms. Shyu wove together a dizzying variety of moods. The piece contains music of mourning, dedicated to friends of the composer who were killed in a car accident. There are comic storytelling jaunts in which incorporate elements of folklore. Ms. Shyu’s vocal solidity — whether tender as well as contemplative, or more overtly theatrical — will be what made the set cohere. Her sensitive instrumental work (on percussion, piano as well as Taiwanese moon lute) was a generous bonus.
Her take at Resonant Bodies ran half as long as the 0-minute style I saw last year at the Stone. This specific necessary compression robbed the work of some of its mystical, meditative dimensions. nevertheless there was a completely new element: a booming, prerecorded percussion part in which helped drive the narrative forward from the final stretch. in which layering of live as well as canned elements drew Ms. Shyu’s work into closer connection with Ms. Shaw’s set, in which she used found-sound fragments of testimony via elderly quilters as part of a solo rendition of her “actually Craft When You” (which was recently recorded, in a different arrangement, by the Bang On A Can All-Stars).
Folk influences were also in Tuesday’s program, particularly when the singer-composer Helga Davis’s group stirred together R&B melismas, bel canto flourishes, as well as swing as well as hip-hop rhythms. Ms. Davis invited the audience to sing an abstracted “Star-Spangled Banner” — a reflection on the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which day — before closing which has a rousing arrangement of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” a tune she has arranged before.
in which evening, Paul Pinto performed a recent dramatic piece, “15 Photos,” which involved drones, dramatically lit passages of shadowboxing, growling vocalizations in which alternated with more angelic writing, as well as some furiously compressed renditions of medieval epics. By the time Ms. Dhegrae took the stage, alongside the Talea Ensemble, to perform Christopher Trapani’s “Waterlines,” the idea was possible to feel exhausted by the sheer variety of styles being presented.
nevertheless aesthetic overload can also be the sign of a festival suffused with purpose as well as ambition. The closing concert on Thursday gave a sense of how wide the globe of vocal music actually will be. A set by the German soprano Sarah Maria Sun, supported by musicians drawn via the International Contemporary Ensemble, touched on a broad array of experimental practices (as well as even some Dadaist theatrical elements).
Her performance of “The Flame,” a playful piece by Thierry Tidrow, made space for both the sass of Weimar cabaret as well as the tightly wound vocal acrobatics characteristic of late Stockhausen. Next up was Gelsey Bell, which has a performance in which included tunes built on extended rolled-consonant sounds — sung hard into a wall, producing strange acoustical beats — as well as also some protest songs written for a gleaming completely new vocal trio. (This specific week, Ms. Bell released an EP of those protest songs on Bandcamp.)
nevertheless perhaps the most impressive set of the entire festival came last, when the electronic musician Pamela Z took the stage. Placed between interactive electronics as well as a pair of laptops, This specific visionary singer as well as composer produced a rushing stream of looped as well as layered vocals, often falling into consonant harmonies. These lines were often supported by clattering soundscapes of digitally fractured percussion.
She also included visual art elements: filmed material, as well as live video of her performance. She didn’t need to introduce or explain the concepts behind these pieces; they made a case for themselves. Even a slight technical glitch toward the end, during her arrangement of Meredith Monk’s “Scared Song,” couldn’t stop her momentum.
Resonant Bodies Festival
Performed on Tuesday, Wednesday as well as Thursday at Roulette, Brooklyn.