- Alistair Smith
Club Vocale Launch
Club Vocale Launch - Earl Haig Hall
25th September 2016
Snaking a path through the hall, furnished with audience members, the scenery of this walk of chance. Of chance encounters and chance ensembles,
meetings and greetings of voice and style. Until the disparity dissolved into a ceremony in the round. The now united chorus created its own institution, as each voice slotted into place and the edifice was founded and sounded into being. Thus the scene was set and the audience prepared for this latest exhibition of The Improvisors Choir. The first half was to display newly devised-improvised works by members of the choir. This opening piece by Uran Apak was inspired by a dream that became a walk of micro and macro improvisation.
Veronique Chacon's Haiku: Tous les possibles. Eventail ouvert au bleu - Joie - All possible, Fan open to the Blue, Joy - saw her take the stage alone with a Tibetan bowl and only her own unique solo voice. Head down, held tight in a bud, she pulsated and broke into the light. Valiantly, she ascended and bent forwards, outwards. She unfolded, opened out, towards us. The soul, gently and tentatively at first, revealed herself with a bare and vital honesty; a touching and richly expressive validation of a deeply personal joie de vivre.
The Heart Opens Like a Lotus Flower: shedding layers, arriving/departing, spiralling up towards heaven
Dilara Aydin-Corbett's first performer opened the piece. To his right the next followed, taking the essence of what he was given and making it his own. They passed their gifts on round the choral crescent, each building upon the last, reinforcing it, giving what each thought best, making each entry more than the last. They found different ways of fusing themselves into a growing form, of opening and expanding. A heartfelt fellowship of sounds, ushered into easy agreement. A communal commonality of creative rotation.
Impassioned personalities slid fluidly across the screen of Sarah Jenkin's performance. Vital, unrestrained, spiritual, nostalgic and joyous, all in one virtuosic cadenza. Then, after a sudden hiatus, an emotive refrain began, in stark contrast to the freedom and vivacity of the beginning. The choir joined in imitation as pillars holding up the solitary voice, enfolding it, giving it body, purpose and companionship, all the while amplifying the sense of yearning. As the emotional intensity blossomed through the entwining polyphony of the choirs staggered entries, the solo voice rose again, given a new impetus and meaning through new circumstance. Then the choir subsided to a solo voice of its own and our heroine returned to conjure a fervent and dramatic duet to finish the piece.
Martins Baumanis' themes of control and humanity were explored with words delivered over a recorded drone.
Contorted voices in the dark, emerged above the single, simple tone. Outbursts and repetitions, modern mantras that seem to define these times. All were orated above a ceaseless monotone - monotony personified. The voices whispered as if in our minds, over and over, invading our consciousness, trying to define us. And then, suddenly they all exited, leaving a lone voice standing alone, bemused and empty, calling out, solitary in the darkness of silent meaninglessness.
Second Half - Full Ensemble
Listening to a composite chord generated from the minds and musical sensibilities of each member, I wonder if it is possible to capture every nuance of human emotion through the slightest incremental changes in harmony. As the ensemble feels its way through this language beyond word and reason; as one note slides into a new relationship, it puts all others into a new light and modifies the colour and appeal. And the meaning, unique for each of us, is evoked from within, as the sound resonates hidden depths that have sunk and settled into the bedrock of our personal histories. At times vivid, then strangely vague and curious, the progression suggests myriad variation and vast potentials for revelation. This guided self discovery is steered through the intuitive reactions of the performers, via our inherent subjective responses. It propels us, wheeling down a channel that has many branches, that a simple, single change of note may impel us to slide into, gliding towards a new sensation.
I love hearing them play with tension, a divined tension of different musical dimensions - of frequency and time, texture and character. It holds the suspension in a stratum that feels like it has no resolution, no apparent release, as it has no obvious conventionality. The parts revolve around each other, glaring at each other across the musical space, in good humour and never needing to agree. The tensile strength of the space asserts itself to the extent that it seems to gain a stability in of itself, on its own terms. This induces a playfulness that is as appealing as it is provocative, a wonderful and perhaps inevitable result of truly free improvisation. And for us, the listeners, the potential emancipation of our own musical sensibilities as we are cajoled into accepting this initially uneasy union of sounds.
The ensemble plays around with all manner of things. There are no rules, nothing they may not touch upon, and nothing they could not use to possibly touch or provoke us. There is nothing to constrain them, they have the delightful permission just to play and steer us into new waters. And Jenni, biding her time, waiting for the right array of motifs, or simply working with whatever is there, pulls their ideas together into an inventive invention. It may define its own purpose or leave it to the imagination of us, the witnesses to decide, if we need to, what it is all about. But do we need to? Can we take the step towards open acceptance? A state of being completely receptive to what is being created, bypassing our usual inherited and learned listening filters of understanding and appreciation. Can we listen to new music on its own terms, not listening what is not there, but to the new relationships that are being defined by the musical language itself. I revel in the ride of uncertainty and possibility, not knowing what new vistas lie round the next turn of musical phrase. For me, a single piece by the choir may pass through innumerable landscapes and identities, sometimes invoking familiar reactions within me, other times new and stimulating phenomena. Until, as all sound must, it ebbs away and melts back into silence; the silence that, as the composer John Cage described, is perpetually pregnant with sound. The silence is indeed more potent when you don't know what's going to emerge from within it. The moment is more magical when uncertainty is in its air. And the mood is more intense when the music is made mercurial.