Singers! Let it all out for John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux: Sounds from Smoky Bay in 2017
Curated Place, the arts-led production company working alongside John Grant on North Atlantic Flux: Sounds from Smoky Bay, is on the hunt for 16 singers, four from each range (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) to get involved in an exciting new work from composer Jobina Tinnemans and Kammerkór Suðurlands (AKA The South Iceland Chamber Choir).
Dutch-British composer Jobina Tinnemans creates enigmatic music that sits somewhere between electronics, contemporary art and classical music, while Kammerkór Suðurlands is an eclectic rabble of musicians from the south of Iceland, whose work takes them to major music festivals around the world.
Their piece, Reflections Over Verisimilitude, will be performed in April 2017 as part of John Grant’s four-day music festival in Hull. This celebration of the best in Nordic creativity will take over Hull city centre with the sounds of the Nordic countries and highlight Hull’s deep ties to our neighbours in Iceland and beyond.
But what actually is Reflections Over Verisimilitude? Not just a composition, and not just a performance, it is (in a word) stunning. The piece combines a live concert by Kammerkór Suðurlands with transparently composed echoes set in a visual landscape, filmed on location in the beautifully scenic Snaefellsness, Iceland. The performance consists of a choir who stand in the middle of a stage, in front of screens showing projected footage of breakwaters. Each singer wears a microphone that picks up their voice by physical contact.
The work is performed as a selection of six songs – varying from minimalist and improvised to the more traditionally choral. With wild textures that navigate over images of the ocean surface, the piece is intended to be an expression of verisimilitude – also known as truthlikeness, or the resemblance of fiction to a real event.
The opening piece Á, which translates from Icelandic as ‘river’, is sung as if from before the dawn of language – where the choir belts out a powerful ÁÁÁÁ to match the force of a waterfall with epic visuals. The second piece Djúpalónsdóttir and Hellnarson is based around the sons and daughters of verisimilitude speaking out to each other in mother tongue, whilst the third Eru Ur enables each singer to freely choose the notes within their own range.
The fourth piece Sjórinn Shanty, is a dissected sea shanty, incorporating a work rhythm which was historically used to ease tasks on ships, with the fifth Vera being a drone song, focusing on the bass singers. The final song, Gloria Omnia starting with a rolling ‘r’ – a common sound in Icelandic – brings together traditional choral performance with space age disco triggered by live, electronically processed voices of the singers.
If you’re interested in taking part, and you’re aged 16 +, you’ll need to be available for up to four rehearsals in March 2017 (dates TBC) and a performance as part of the festival (28 April – 1 May 2017). You don’t need to be a pro at reading music and applicants are welcome from all over (although if you’re from Hull that’s a bonus).
You’ll also be provided with scores and a recording of the piece before you roll up for the first rehearsal. Don’t worry though, the pieces aren’t tricky to master. For more information, or to apply, contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org who will give you the lowdown.
Header image by Andy Brydon