Drawing from a wide array of inspirations, techniques, and genres, four acclaimed vocalist-composers—Gelsey Bell, Amirtha Kidambi, Anaïs Maviel, and Megan Schubert—come together to write new pieces for each other. Each world premiere reflects the individual style of the composer while capitalizing on the collaborators’ flexible voices and improvisational intelligence. Invoking on her characteristic blend of extended vocal techniques and vocal harmony, Gelsey Bell‘s Within attempts to untangle the ineffable from the political in a look at disease and misogyny. Amirtha Kidambi combines notated materials, graphic score, conduction and free improvisation to explore vocal textures from polyphony and harmony, to microtonality and harsh noise, encapsulating a microcosm of vocal practice from ancient to modern. Anaïs Maviel approaches liminal spaces between so-called “artificial” and “natural” environments. Megan Schubert’s Late Duck, examines her personal experience with performing gender through a theatrical blend of live and pre-recorded sound, samples, stop-motion animation, and video. With a sense of ubiquity, four unique vocal instruments will invoke divine feminine metamorphosis in the face of apocalyptic times.
Gelsey Bell is a New York City-based singer, songwriter, and scholar, described by The New York Times as an “imaginative” “winning soprano” whose performance of her own music is “virtuosic” and “glorious noise.” She has released multiple albums, including most recently This is Not a Land of Kings, and Ciphony with John King. She received a 2017 Music/Sound Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, has had work included in PS1’s Greater New York exhibit, and has had both a residency and a commission from Roulette. Her works include Bathroom Songs, Scaling, Our Defensive Measurements, This Takes Place Close By (with thingNY), Prisoner’s Song (with Erik Ruin), Wealth from the Salt Seas (with Anna Sperber), and the acclaimed adaptation of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (with Varispeed). She is a core member of thingNY, Varispeed, and the Chutneys. Other performance highlights include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (on Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley’s Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s River of Fundament, John King’s Micro-Operas, Yasuko Yokoshi’s BELL, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens, and Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen. www.gelseybell.com
Amirtha Kidambi is invested in the creation and performance of subversive music, from free improvisation and avant-jazz, to experimental bands and new music. As a bandleader, she is the creative force behind Elder Ones, featuring rising New York artists Matt Nelson, Nick Dunston and Max Jaffe. Elder Ones’ Holy Science released on Northern Spy in 2016, received critical praise from the New York Times, Pitchfork and WIRE magazine, with a follow-up release in March 2019. In 2018, Kidambi premiered a solo improvisatory work Yajna and Lines of Light for improvising vocal quintet, with Emilie Lesbros Jean-Carla Rodea, Anais Maviel and Charmaine Lee, as the Artist-in-Residence at Roulette. She is active in an improvising duo with electronic musician Lea Bertucci, in a kinetic interaction with analog tape machine. Kidambi is a key collaborator in Mary Halvorson’s latest quintet Code Girl, multiple projects with Darius Jones, a regular collaborator of William Parker and longtime member of Charlie Looker’s band Seaven Teares. As an improviser, she has played with New York luminaries including Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey, Maria Grand, Brandon Lopez, Ingrid Laubrock, Ava Mendoza, Fay Victor, Trevor Dunn, Ben Vida, Tyondai Braxton and Shahzad Ismaily. Kidambi worked closely with composer Robert Ashley until the end of his life, premiering his final opera CRASH and had the honor of working with the late composer/pianist Muhal Richard Abrams for the premiere of Dialogue Social. Kidambi has performed and presented her music in the U.S. and internationally at Carnegie Hall, The Kitchen, Whitney Museum, EMPAC, Wexner Center, Andy Warhol Museum, Berlin Jazzfest, Bimhuis in Amsterdam, Borderline Festival in Athens and various DIY/punk spaces. Kidambi has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Asian Cultural Council and artist residencies at EMPAC and Roulette.
Anaïs Maviel is a vocalist, percussionist, composer, writer and community facilitator. Her work focuses on the function of music as essential to settling common grounds, addressing Relation, and creating utopian future. Involved at the crossroads of mediums – music, visual art, dance, theater and performance art – she has been an in-demand creative force for artists such as William Parker, Steffani Jemison, César Alvarez, Daria Faïn, to name a few. As a leader she is dedicated to substantial creations from solo to music direction of large ensembles, and to expanding the power of music as a healing & transformative act. She performs extensively in New York, throughout North, South & Central America, and Europe. Her solo debut hOULe, out on NY based Gold Bolus Recordings, received international acclaim and she recently released an eponymous album with carnivalesque duo DIASPORA.
Megan Schubert has performed music by Stockhausen for an audience under umbrellas in a torrential downpour for Make Music New York; world premieres at Carnegie Hall; with robots while locked inside a Van de Graaff Generator at Boston’s Museum of Science; on a bike flying by the audience in an installation piece at McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn; in a giant potato sack while video was projected onto her frontside at Webster Hall; for inmates at a maximum security prison in Ossining, NY; with puppets at E 4th Street Fab! Fest; for Elliot Carter at a celebration of his 100th birthday; from behind the bushes in Dijon, France for entre cours et jardins; opening Jazztopad; and shared the stage on multiple occasions with such luminaries as Meredith Monk, Bang On a Can, and with many ensembles championing art music and experimental jazz of today. In recent years, Schubert sang in the premieres of large works by Sasha Zamler-Carhart, Robert Ashley, Luigi Nono, Georges Aperghis, Bernard Rands, James Ilgenfritz, Sonia Megías, Jenny O. Johnson, Nick Hallett, Kitty Brazelton, Inhyun Kim, Charlie Looker, David Friend, Nate Wooley (Psalms from Hell, and for Anna Sperber’s The Superseded Third), Jonathan Bepler (with Matthew Barney for opera film River of Fundament and newest film REDOUBT, for John Jasperse’s Within Between, for Wally Cardona & Jennifer Lacey’s The Set Up 2013-2017, Wally Cadona’s Given In the Blackbox 2018), Cally Spooner, Kristen Volness, Marinella Senatore, Guy Barash, Christian Frederickson, Tino Sehgal (Public Art Fund production of This You), and in new productions of operas by Denman Maroney and Jason Cady. Schubert gave the Canadian premiere of David Lang’s death speaks in addition to her own compositions as part of the Honens Festival in Calgary, AB. She stars as Jane Jacobs opposite Dashon Burton as Robert Moses in Judd Greenstein, Tracy K. Smith, Will Rawls and Joshua Frankel’s opera, A Marvelous Order. Schubert is also a professional chorister with the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church chamber choir, and is a long time assistant of composer, Moog synthesizer pioneer, conductor and pianist Gershon Kingsley, and opera director Rhoda Levine.