Saturday, February 24, 2018

Voice++ 2015 Festival highlights the power of human voice

March 18, 2015 by Sera Down, contributing writer

It isn’t uncommon in Victoria: a dozen flannel-clad buskers perched along Government Street, amusing shiny cedar acoustic guitars, singing folk renditions of Billboard Top 100 pop singles. Elderly gentlemen romance nostalgic tunes on trumpets and trombones alongside overly formal pre-teens mastering their violins. Indeed, Victoria is fond of its eclectic music community.

A selection of experienced vocal and audio artists are coming together to demonstrate the diversity of vocal expression through non-traditional styles such as overtone singing and multi-phonics at the Open Space Gallery’s Voice++ 2015 festival.

An exhibition of non-traditional vocal performances is rare in any place; one featuring experienced vocalists of international provenance rarer still.

The Voice++ 2015 festival exhibits non-traditional vocal performances by international performers (photo provided).

The Voice++ 2015 festival exhibits non-traditional vocal performances by international performers (photo provided).

“These concerts will appeal to many different concert-goers, from classical music to modern to avant-guard jazz,” explains Janice Jackson, whose own performance contains five works. Jackson’s offerings include Arabic and Bulgarian ornamentation, Peking opera and overtone in Han No. 3, and a solo (composed by Marie Pelletier) to a mini opera titled Echoes of Time Weeping in traditional Bel Canto style, which draws from the South American myth of a forlorn woman searching for the lost souls of her children.

A particularly intriguing piece to be performed by Jackson, titled Angst by Alice Ho (Toronto), combines both visual performance and extremes in dynamic, tempo, and pitch to convey nervous anxiety.

“There are also scissors and newspaper involved,” says Jackson enthusiastically, leaving the rest to the imagination.

Other performances include a lecture from Swedish composer Erik Bunger titled The Third Man, which explores the complexities and evolution of technology in relation to music, language, and personal experiences.

Japanese artist and instrument creator Tomomi Adachi will be presenting a workshop and concert, unveiling fantastical inventions such as an infrared shirt that converts body movements and energy into sound, and inspiring audiences of all ages and experience levels to explore their body as a tool of musicality.

Jackson says that while neither auditory nor visual mediums are superior, concerts capture their audiences much differently than a traditional art exhibit.

“Music is immediate and reaches the brain through the ears, through vibration, through the body… With visual art there is more time to ponder and allow the non-emotional part of the brain to process,” says Jackson. “Time is different in music, whereas the visual is immediate and can easily be ignored, music in concert is more difficult to censor or move away from unless one leaves the concert.”

With Victoria’s rich musical culture and its embrace of traditional arts such as ballet and theatre, Jackson hopes to see an enthusiastic turnout for the event.

“Opera lovers will love Echoes of Time Weeping because it’s highly dramatic and emotional, as well as great theatre,” says Jackson, noting the unique nature of the event. “Festivals that centre around the voice are rare, as are experienced singers who focus much of their work on non-traditional singing. It’s something everyone should have the experience of hearing.”

Voice++ 2015
March 19-22
Open Space Gallery

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