Not a Christmas Concert

December 19, 2020

Jim and I went to our second concert in three days. It’s the season for music, right? This one featured our cousin Monica, one of sixteen singers in Volti…a San Francisco ensemble of professional singers who “are dedicated to the discovery, creation and performance of new vocal music.”

In tonight’s concert, “Singing Puzzles,” the virtuoso musicians, “

screamed, cursed, imitated crude
sound effects, impersonated turtles, brutally
butchered IPA symbols, sang beautifully, and
conjured up just about every sound the human
voice is capable of into their recorders. Elements
of the choral experience — such as group
rehearsals, coordinated singing in time, visual
cues — remained, but deconstructed in bizarre
ways that only a year like 2020 could deliver.

The director was careful to point out: it was not Christmas music.

Here are a couple pics:

Jim and I assuming the now very familiar position (this is where we sit for all our Zoom events):

I liked this particular number…I won’t go into detail describing it, but just know that each singer, alone at home, sang their part without hearing the others. The director had them close their eyes, turned them into black/white, edited each individual’s recording, added graphics to represent the sounds and then put it all together. The singers heard the composition as a whole for the first time tonight.

There were 7 “puzzles,” in all — some more random than others — all an interesting blend of sounds, graphics and direction.


I think what went on here was each singer gave his/her sound impression of one of the images and the director mixed those in an artistic way.

I’m not exactly sure what was going on with this one….

… but they put those symbols to sound, as only Volti professional singers can.

All the numbers were interesting. The entire 25-minute performance was worth observing… because, number one, it’s our cousin who’s a major musical talent (all of the singers are) and, number two, it’s a style of music that is 100% foreign to me (save that one experimental music class I took at UCSD nearly a half century ago in which we did crazy things with our voices, embellished by skits, costumes, found objects and weird sound effects.. well outside my comfort zone, but a worthwhile class because it broke the ice on my uptight, self-conscious, late-teen self) and there’s always something to gain through that exposure.

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