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trickpony is a research and creation project of singer/actor/performer, Sarah Albu. Working with 8 composers on 8 new pieces for solo voice, Sarah has committed herself to a year of exploring her voice, the rehearsal and the development process.

Sarah has generously included me in this project. I had a wonderful time during our first meeting here in Toronto this past weekend. We went over some initial sketches and discussed possibilities, timelines and due-dates.  Work is satisfying in the setting of workshop. Exchange ideas. Ask questions. Listen. I feel ready, armed with new information regarding Sarah’s voice, to complete a first draft of my piece this month.

When first considering this project, I was struck by Sarah’s comfort in the theatrical. I wanted to include this strength in my writing and find inroads into narrative style. Feeling that a 10 minute solo voice piece could benefit formally, from characterization and a beginning-middle-end arc, I set to work writing a text that satisfied these conditions. A new approach for me. I am waiting on results of experiment.

Here is the rough text (for comment/suggestion):

(narrator) And then emerging from what had come before, the young girl sat, on this beautiful sun covered day in the cool green grass – pondering the strange and sudden predicament she found herself within. Trying to figure how one thing can seemingly so suddenly lead to another – she mused:

(girl) The crime build the jail that is the system that names the crime. What fool’s trick is this? Oh! The secret lives of eggs and chickens.

(narrator) And there she still sat. Excited but patient. Propelled into her stationary predicament by her commitments to her current state – she questioned: 

(girl) If the devil is a coward he is fire hiding in the smoke. Hidden in plain sight God is everywhere, the feeding breath for devils hiding.

We are two, or three, or four. Perhaps more in balanced form.

Am I bound in this world. Bound to be this form.

(warning/threat) You may be fearless in this world, but there are other worlds.

(narrator) And with that the girl willed herself turn into a glistening pool of water. Cool and refreshing. And the witch – thirsty from the heat of the sun took a large glass and drank the girl up.

For me, text is the learning curve for my involvement with this project. How do I write it? It imbues meaning effortlessly. Can I be careful with it? Stop it from breaking. Or exploding. I am attempting to use it as a compliment to formal and harmonic rhythm. Place clarity on the sliding scale of consonance and dissonance. So it too, supports the construct. This is new to me.

Stay tuned for news of performances of the new works of myself and 7 other composers and Sarah’s forthcoming studio album. For a complete run-down of trickpony visit Sarah’s project blog.

We took a break to hunt for wool. There are so many ways in which new people find to cross.

Thank you Sarah. Lovely to meet you.

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The joyous occasion to bring together musicians.

Toward the end of August 2012, the glass tables (Tomas Bouda, myself), composer Chris Reiche of Victoria BC and vocalist Larissa Mason of Ottawa ON gathered at the Reiche Family Lodge to write and record four new tracks.

The Lodge is situated on 750 acres of wooded area surrounding Little Swawell Lake just outside Pembroke ON . It is a perfect place for quiet morning swims, nightly marshmallow roasts, venison and fish dinners, and music making day and night.

Run on solar power and making use of compostable toilets, the lodge is a window into another world.

I love it there.

pianos, keyboards, accordions, flutes, percussion instruments, guitars and voices guide our exploration of the space, the isolation, the season (and how it turns). We created four pieces. Here are the titles:

Ascension

Summer

Descension

Winter

a cabin

We have arrived. And there are cabins to sleep in.

Dock

Dock days of summer. Chris Reiche (L), Tomas Bouda (R)

Solar Power

The sun is strong here

Recording Room

Prepared and ready. The recording space.

Room space

Tall ceilings for sound travel. And friends.

A Room with a View

A room with a view. Sometimes we look out

Sally Norris

Sally Norris

Larissa Mason

Larissa Mason

The Piano

The piano.

The Lake

Calm on this evening.

the house

And there is this light.

the lake 2

A last look.

With the generous support of FACTOR, the four tracks will be released as an EP soon.

Factor

I look forward to sharing that with you.

Back in the city. Chris Reiche joined the glass tables at Somewhere There, Toronto ON August 31st, 2012 to perform as part of the Leftover Daylight series. You can view the video of the performance here.

Special thank you to Pam Lambert and Ron Reiche for the use of the Reiche Lodge.

Back to living in the city.

Deep breath.

In the spring of 2007, I attended Quatuor Bozzini’s Composer’s Kitchen. Combination workshop, laboratory, playground and masterclass, Composer’s Kitchen is a unique opportunity to explore writing for the sound of a professional string quartet with the gentle guidance of professional composers.

There exists an intensity in collaboration, where nowhere else you find. (write/rewrite, play/listen, discuss/learn, decide/accept).

Exchange ideas.

We gave them back. Took more. In a short week then we made work. And with grace the quartet played for us. Generous their time, understanding. We search/learn/grow/repeat.

From then,

Prairie Sky

 

 

 

And now,

I am grateful of the opportunity to once again collaborate with the Quatuor Bozzini. This year their recording À chacun sa miniature is released. It celebrates the quartet’s dedication to, and inspiration for, emerging composers. A celebration made with the notes written by 31 young alumni of the Composer’s Kitchen (2005-2010). Each new piece written, played, recorded here celebrates the quartet’s studio-lab for the next generation. You will hear the results of our exchange, the debate of technical expertise and aesthetic values.

Quatuor Bozzini, Thank you.

Please listen, enjoy, debate.

À chacun sa miniature