Varispeed commences Part I of their 12-hour arrangement of John Cage’s Empty Words, a landmark text-based work from the mid-70s that transforms speech into music and brings to light the beauty and power of the human voice. In Part I, Cage’s text establishes a distinctly non-syntactical speech rhythm with words and phrases arranged through chance operations from Thoreau’s journals. The vocalist-performer-arrangers of Varispeed (Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Paul Pinto, Brian McCorkle, & Gelsey Bell) and special guests augment their voices with a bevvy of electronics, while spatializing sound and action into a Cagean feast for the senses.
Empty Words will continue in three more installments. Parts II & III will be performed at nearby Exapno (33 Flatbush Ave, 5th floor) at 11 PM and 2 AM, respectively. Part IV will be a sound walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at 5 AM. All parts are free and open to the public.
Varispeed is a collective of composer-performers from experimental theatre group Panoply Performance Laboratory, ensemble thingNY, and Cough Button that creates site-specific, sometimes-participatory, oftentimes-durational, forevermore-experimental events. Founded by Aliza Simons, Dave Ruder, Paul Pinto, Brian McCorkle, and Gelsey Bell, Varispeed came together in June 2011 to perform a twelve-hour celebration of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives in Brooklyn before they were invited to perform the critically-acclaimed version in November as part of Performa ’11. Their new arrangements in Perfect Lives Manhattan was praised by the New York Times and made Time Out New York and the Los Angeles Times’ “Best of 2011” list for opera.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Paula Court and Performa