Posts Tagged: Zosha di Castri


8
May 17

Why bother?

As part of our 2016-2017 season we’re giving each of our core singers a turn at the helm of the blog. The below post below comes from our soprano, Charlotte Mundy.


Why bother with microtonal music?

I ask myself this question often, especially when I should be practicing microtonal music. I complain, ‘it takes soooo much work to learn, the myriad obscure symbols people use to notate it are confusing, and the human voice, prone as it is to pitch inconsistency, cannot possibly be the best tool for rendering infinitesimally precise systems of tuning. So why am I sitting inside on a beautiful spring afternoon singing along to a midi rendering?!?!’

But then Ekmeles gets together for rehearsal, somehow we manage to produce some precise, just-tuned chords, and suddenly I remember:

Because it’s literal magic, that’s why.

A couple weeks ago we got our first chance to sing with the electronic part for Christopher Trapani’s brand new piece, End Words, and we kept breaking down in fits of giggles. OK, partly that was because we were hearing each others’ voices unexpectedly coming out of speakers mounted on the walls around us – talking, humming, singing – as if our invisible dopplegangers were popping in and out of the room at will. But also, the harmonies we were immersed in, based on the harmonic series and rendered perfectly via digitally-tuned recordings, are utterly disarming. I can’t help but feel a little off-balance and giddy when I’m immersed in them.

Come to our show next Saturday, May 20, at the DiMenna Center to hear (and feel!) what I mean. Along with the world premiere of End Words, we’ll perform two other works that have awesome electronic tracks and gorgeous vocal writing – Zosha Di Castri’s The Animal After Whom Others are Named and Joanna Bailie’s Harmonizing – and Courtney Bryan’s kinetic, exciting A Time For Everything. Hope to see you there!


6
Apr 17

End Words

Ekmeles performs the World Premiere of Christopher Trapani’s End Words, a Chamber Music America commission. It will be paired with the U.S. premiere of a work by Joanna Bailie, as well as Ekmeles commissions by Courtney Bryan and Zosha di Castri

  • Christopher Trapani – End Words (2017) World Premiere
  • Joanna Bailie – Harmonizing (2012) U.S. Premiere
  • Courtney Bryan – A Time for Everything (2013)
  • Zosha di Castri – The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2013)

Ekmeles personnel for concert

End Words has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

Ekmeles in Manhattan, Spring 2017 is made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. LMCC.net


26
Nov 16

The Chaos and Insanity of Nature

As part of our 2016-2017 season we’re giving each of our core singers a turn at the helm of the blog. The below post below comes from our tenor, Steven Bradshaw.


I begin my tenure with Ekmeles on December 1st, diving into Zosha Di Castri’s bold work The Animal After Whom Other Animals are Named for 6 voices and electronics. The first thing that struck me about the score was the space it left for each musician to make decisions. It’s a certain type of composer that writes this way and her technique is conducive to the kind of music-making I’m interested in. The piece jumps back and forth quite sporadically between rhythmic speech and complex harmonies, interspersed with vocal figures of a more approximate nature. Studying the piece and shaping the performance of my part has been an unusual process. While the artistic choices available to us in the harmonic sections are more-or-less familiar, the sections of speech and approximate vocal phrasings — wailing, screeching, growling, glissandos, whistling, and white noise — are very enveloping. It’s an expansive sound world beyond traditional vocal repertoire, made even more-so by the amplification which unlocks another layer of possibility. No longer bound by the acoustics of Miller Theatre, the sounds of a mysterious forest teeming with life emerge from a landscape of electronic drones and glitches. Blood-curdling howls and whispered hissing can be heard equally in this thick atmosphere. My part alone calls for shrieking high Es followed shortly by a long drone waving microtonally and drifting into white noise before eventually choking out and gasping desperately for air in the span of less than a minute.

The text, it seems to me, gives voice to a consciousness that cannot express itself in this way. It reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke’s wonderful writing in the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which the author tells the story through MoonWatcher: the hominid. Healey’s poem reflected through the prism of Zosha’s menacing score seems to speak to the chaos and insanity of nature. Music and the written word have a unique ability to unlock a point-of-view that is truly… other.


22
Nov 16

The snake who mistakes its own tail

As part of our 2016-2017 season we’re giving each of our core singers a turn at the helm of the blog. The below post below comes from our bass, Steven Hrycelak.


Ekmeles first had the opportunity to perform Zosha Di Castri’s The Animal after Whom Other Animals are Named three years ago. We loved it then, and performed it again soon after. What a rare treat to revisit a piece for a third time in as many years, and for such an exciting series as Miller Theatre’s Composer Portraits on December 1st.

The work utilizes electronics, which create a widely varied aural backdrop for the six vocalists. And Di Castri asks the singers to use an enormous array of techniques, from booming oration and the use of a megaphone in the bass part, to whispering, muttering, gasping, sobbing, shuddering, humming, growling, whispering, gulping, and the use of vocal fry in all the voice parts. Extremes of range and dynamics, microtonal tuning, and vibrato usage also create a really dramatic, constantly evolving palette of colors. What I love about both the challenge and extreme variety of this, however, is that it all feels purposeful and so well suited to Nicole Sealey’s text. There are moments of fairly traditional singing in the score, but they are always amped up by Di Castri’s layering of other vocal techniques. Moments of homophonic writing are very rare, and are usually reserved for moments of dramatic outburst, when it is clear that the composer wanted the text to be boldly stated by the voices together.

There is one notable exception, and it is one of my favorite moments in the score. Here, at letter I, 4-6 of the voices at any moment (though the personnel are constantly shifting), are homophonically singing the text “the snake who mistakes its own tail, but maintains an orderly suffering.” And the text setting is truly remarkable! Even visually, and certainly through the chromaticism, the slithering of the snake is apparent. The highest sung pitch ascends by half step over the first three measures, from C# to C to B and passing from mezzo soprano to soprano, as the snake slithers. This pattern repeats starting on beat 2 of the fourth measure, but down an octave, and is passed from tenor to mezzo soprano. The countertenor has quite literally dropped an octave on this second iteration, moving fully into baritone range, and changing the color of the sound entirely. The vertical sonorities are quite dissonant throughout, but are most consonant in each phrase on the word “orderly,” employing a straightforward minor seventh chord, the first time in third inversion, the second time in an incredibly low root position. The first setting of the word “suffering” maintains the same chord as was heard on “orderly,” though with the voicing all shifted around. When “suffering” appears a second time, however, the chord is very low, dark, and dissonant.

Di Castri - The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named

Click for a larger image

Di Castri continues to employ some other vocal sounds in this section – most notably, the laugh/shudder of the mezzo soprano, disrupting the orderliness of the first iteration of “orderly” – and these effects do enhance and comment on the more “traditional” homophonic vocal writing, as they do throughout the piece. But for me, the harmonies and the movement between them, in addition to the plummeting register of the section over all, create masterful text setting and a truly special musical moment.


1
Oct 16

Composer Portrait: Zosha Di Castri

The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are NamedEkmeles performs both solo, and with piano percussion quartet Yarn/Wire as part of Zosha Di Castri’s Composer Portrait at Miller Theatre.

  • Zosha Di Castri – The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2013)
  • Zosha Di Castri – Near Mute Force (2016)

Ekmeles personnel for concert


21
Nov 13

Columbia Composers

Ekmeles rejoins Columbia Composers to present 5 new works

  • Courtney Bryan – A Time For Everything (2013) World Premiere
  • Courtney Bryan – Faith, Hope, and Love (2013) World Premiere
  • Zosha Di Castri – The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2013)
  • Matthew Ricketts – Women Well Met (2013) World Premiere
  • Ryan Pratt – DeafeningSilence (2013) World Premiere

Personnel for concert


25
Sep 13

21st Century Americans

Ekmeles kicks off the 2013-2014 season with a program of 21st century American music.

  • Taylor Brook – Motorman Sextet (2013) World Premiere
  • Aaron Cassidy – A Painter of Figures in Rooms (2012) US Premiere
  • Elliott Carter – Mad Regales (2007)
  • Zosha Di Castri – The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2013) World Premiere
  • Adam Mirza – Safe Words (2011, rev. 2013)

Personnel for concert

Supported by New Music USA’s Cary Fund For New Music Performance Fund and the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University


29
Jan 12

Columbia Composers

Ekmeles sings new works written for them & instruments by Columbia University composition students Taylor Brook, Courtney Bryan, Natacha Diels, Bryan Jacobs, and Alec Hall

personnel for concert