The incredible thing about the human voice—singing, speaking, or otherwise—is its natural ability and urgency to communicate. A single inflection can alter the course of an entire thought. The voice, negotiator between culture and nature, pushes boundaries of expression through its ability to speak beyond words. Ancient musical traditions used the melisma, groundbreaking jubilation which “expresses what cannot be expressed by words…singers are so overwhelmed with joy that they abandon words and give way to their heart.” (Saint Augustine) The voice expresses through dimensions (accent, intonation, timbre), presence (sound within silence), manifestation (coughing, laughter), and representation (voice of God, reason, or rhetoric). The voice is a bold and constant vehicle of change – a cry in the wilderness, a call to arms, a quiet inhalation. “What singles out the voice against the vast ocean of sounds and noises… is its inner relationship with meaning.” (Mladen Dolar)
A Voice Beyond Words brides the genres of contemporary classical and avant-garde and features various vocal techniques, creative forms of linguistics, and interdisciplinary performance to address communication head-on. The first half features works for voice and piano. Sky Macklay sets the poetry of Gregory Mahrer to deconstructive melodic stretching, approaching glossolalia (speaking in tongues). Tania León sets Margaret Atwood, whose dualistic nature portrays the inability of characters to communicate and their resulting isolation. George Crumb sets a heart-wrenching cycle of grief, combining poetry of Walt Whitman with vocalises and bird calls. The second half features unaccompanied works with electronics, movement and incoherent language. Natacha Diels combines vocal sounds with electronics choreographed by the vocalist wearing triggered gloves, creating an atmosphere of cyborg sounds and lyricism. Rebecca Saunders‘s sets a brilliant and sensual monologue from the final chapter of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, in which words flow with inhales and exhales of breath, weaving a collage of thoughts between absence and presence. Georges Aperghis breaks traditions of music and theater through atonality, puzzles and repetition. Jason Eckardt unravels “Dithyramb”, an “ecstatic outburst of unintelligible vocal sounds… possession that is said to hold the human vessels through which the divine or supernatural passes.” (Eckardt) Finally, abandoning language altogether, the program ends with a wordless improvisation for voice and drums.
Sky Macklay: Glossolalia (2016), for soprano and piano
Tania Leon: Atwood Songs (2007), for soprano and piano
George Crumb: Apparition (1979), for soprano and piano
Natacha Diels: Bahnhof (2012), for soprano and electronics
Rebecca Saunders: O (2017), for solo soprano
George Aperghis: Selections from 14 Recitations (1978) for soprano and dancer
Jason Eckardt: Dithyramb (2001) for solo soprano
Improvisation for voice and drums
Stephanie Lamprea: soprano
Jeremiah Cossa: piano
Anne Goldberg-Baldwin: dance artist
Lesley Mok: drums
Colombian-American soprano Stephanie Lamprea is an architect of new sounds and expressions as a performer, recitalist, curator, and improviser, specializing in contemporary classical repertoire. Trained as an operatic coloratura, Stephanie uses her voice as a mechanism of avant-garde performance art, creating “maniacal shifts of vocal production and character… like an icepick through the skull” (composer Jason Eckardt). Her work has been described as “mercurial” by I Care If You Listen, and she “sings so expressively and slowly with ever louder and higher-pitched voice, that the inclined listener [has] shivers down their back and tension flows into the last row.” (Halberstadt.de) She has received awards from St. Botolph Club Foundation, John Cage Orgel Stiftung and Puffin Foundation. Stephanie devours mammoth works of virtuosity and extended techniques with ease and creative insight, singing with an entire spectrum of vocal colors (including operatic style, straight tone, sputters and throat noises). Works which Stephanie has performed include Kate Soper’s Ipsa Dixit, Georges Aperghis’ 14 Recitations, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. She has performed as a soloist at Roulette Intermedium, National Sawdust, Miller Theater at Columbia University, the Slipper Room, Park Avenue Armory, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Re:Sound Festival. She has worked with Wavefield Ensemble, Ekmeles, Guerrilla Opera, Boston Art Song Society and the Original Gravity Concert Series. Stephanie was a featured TEDx Speaker in TEDxWaltham: Going Places. As an interdisciplinary artist, Stephanie performed recitations and vocal improvisations in Dora Garcia’s exhibition Love With Obstacles at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, MA, and she lent her recorded voice and improvisations to Diemut Strebe’s The Prayer, a multimedia machine on display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. Her passion for social advocacy through interdisciplinary art led her to create Recitations in Movement, a vocal and choreographed performance in collaboration with dance artist Laila J. Franklin to raise funds for Rosie’s Place, a shelter for homeless and battered women. For more information please visit stephanielamprea.com.
Boston-based pianist Jeremiah Cossa is a versatile musician active on both American coasts as both soloist and collaborator. Jeremiah made his debut as concerto soloist with the Claremont Symphony Orchestra with whom he has had repeat engagements. Some of his recent competition achievements include 2nd place in the MTNA Stecher and Horowitz Two Piano Competition with his duo partner, Kevin Madison, and an honorable mention in the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition. Jeremiah – a California native raised in eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Africa for 10 years – earned his BM in Piano Performance from Azusa Pacific University, where he studied with Dr. Robert Sage, and his MM from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, studying with Max Levinson. His broad repertoire reflects a substantial palette of interests, particularly in Contemporary and avant-garde music for solo piano, and in chamber music for two piano and two piano/two percussion groups. Jeremiah is currently the Music Director at Church of Our Saviour in Milton, MA and plays keyboards in the 5-piece Art Rock group Cordis.
Anne H. Goldberg blurs the definitions of music and dance as a composer, choreographer, and performer. Co-founder the new music ensemble, Tempus Continuum Ensemble, Anne makes a career of premiering and performing both her own music and that of other 20th and 21st Century composers. She is a recent recipient of the Jerome Foundation Commission for her work that finds the cross sections of music, breath, and movement. Anne explores the relationships that exist within the composer-performer, and how her work as a movement artist impacts and intersects her life as a musician. Her artistry has been featured in venues such as Symphony Space, the National Opera Center, the Kitchen, the Cell, the Flea Theater, in Darmstadt, and others nationally and internationally. Anne graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College with extensive course work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received her D.M.A. candidate at the Manhattan School of Music under Dr. Reiko Füting, and M.M. of Classical Composition at MSM under Dr. Marjorie Merryman, and influences of Nils Vigeland, and Mark Stambaugh. She served on faculty at Cornish College of the Arts, and will begin as Assistant Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music in the fall.
Lesley Mok is a drummer, composer, and improviser who continually finds herself among Brooklyn’s most respected musicians and experimentalists. Interested in the ways social conditions shape our being, Lesley’s work focuses on transposing, augmenting, and overacting humanness to explore ideas about normalcy, alienness, and privilege. Performing with artists such as Jen Shyu, Cory Smythe, and Tomeka Reid, Lesley has honed a unique voice as a drummer and percussionist by employing a dynamic range of timbres and orchestrations. Her most recent work, Not One Or The Other, is a transmedia work for film, music, and circus arts that tells stories of the dispossessed and the way wild and manic dreams unfold when we compromise our identities. Lesley received her undergraduate and master’s degree at Berklee College of Music in Contemporary Performance. She is an alumni of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute and the Banff Workshop for Jazz & Creative Music. She has been mentored by Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Henry Threadgill, Billy Hart, Danilo Perez, and Terri Lyne Carrington.
Photos: Gaya Feldheim Schorr