A good time was had last night at EXAUDI’s concert at the Only Connect theatre. I’m writing now because I particularly enjoyed Cassandra Miller‘s new one, Guide, for eight voices.
Guide is based on a 1968 recording by the American folk singer Maria Muldaur of the well-known hymn ‘Guide me, O thou great Jehovah’. In advance of receiving the score, the players were asked to familiarise themselves with the recording, and in particular with Muldaur’s distinctive vocal style. The piece itself then ran through (?apparently) a sort of quasi-canonic process that meant each singer working through the hymn’s first verse – in awareness of how Muldaur sang it – with various repetitions and other procedural things along the way. The way it was built out of layers and loops meant that something of the music’s origins, in a recorded artefact, was carried through into the form of the piece; this was an echo of a recording given the post-production treatment.
In a way. That description makes it sound sort of Reich-y, which it wasn’t at all. It was way less digital than that. And it was more than the aura of vinyl or tape, but of a tape that was loosely wound, or even unspooling. Hesitantly, I might even say it was organic.
But still with that sense of intermedia translation about it, the sense of something artificial, brought into a dialogue.
Like I say, a really, really good piece.
I also enjoyed catching up with Cassandra after the show, all of which preamble gives me an excuse to post this piece of hers for piano, played by Philip Thomas: