RTV: Shelley Hirsch

Release Date: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In this RTV episode, we talk with Shelley Hirsch about her piece States in which she evokes a mysterious soundworld, combined with comic take-offs and electronic samples.

Her remarkably pliant voice in States modulates through instant evocations of a nightclub singer, shamanistic chanter, passionate Arabic poet/singer, iconoclastic and obsessed chanteuse (sounds of applause, “Is that for me?”), and other personae. Mixing together charmingly comic take-offs on standards such as Blue Skies, Tenderly (“The body is the biggest recorder possible!”), and Blue Moon with a rich underscoring of electronic modifications and samples from popular and concert music of the world, the audience may float through a mysteriously evocative “sonic travelogue. Hirsch speaks about her early influences and performances, her attempt to be a Kabuki dancer, and her creative discoveries with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, as well as her unique “organic” method of composing “in the most real … committed way that you can.”

Aired on rTV: 2000
Performance date: 03/20/1999
Episode release date: 04/28/2010
Host: Phoebe Legere
Produced by Jim Staley


Shelley Hirsch is “an unorthodox, extraordinary fusion of vocalist, composer, and performance artist” (Anne LeBaron) whose work encompasses story telling pieces, staged performances, compositions, improvisations, collaborations, installations, and radioplays, which have been presented on 5 continents. Hirsch has performed in hundreds of concerts by collaborating with musicians including Anthony Coleman, Christian Marclay, Ikue Mori, Toshio Kajiwara, Hans Reichel, Min Xiao Fen, Tony Buck, David Simons, Johannes, Connie, and Matthias Bauer, Paul Lovens, David Watson, Marina Rosenfeld, Jim Staley, DJ Olive, Denman Maroney, Joey Baron, Mark Dresser, Ned Rothenberg, Marc Ribot, Cyro Baptista, Butch Morris, Elliot Sharp, Uchihashi Kasuhisa, and Joe Williamson. An award-winning vocalist, composer, and performance artist, Shelley Hirsch draw upon experiences from her own real (eg. her splendid autobiographical radio play “The Vidzer Family”) and imagined life (eg. “Now I Am Yours” and the dynamic “War of Dreams”) to create song-stories filled with compelling characters, extended vocal techniques, actual and hypothetical languages, brilliant improvisation, and richly imaginative electronic effects.