Sudden Swan Soars Saturday

Susan WilliamsSoprano Susan Williams will premiere Sudden Swan for voice and live electronics at the Birmingham New Music Festival on Saturday August 23 at 7:30pm. The concert is at UAB’s Hulsey Recital Hall, 950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL. Admission is free.

Susan and I have known each other since our college days at Birmingham-Southern.  Since then she’s landed leading opera roles and appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, Akron Symphony, Duke Symphony Orchestra and many others. This is the first time Susan and I have worked on a piece together, and we’re so excited to present it on Saturday.

The performer in Sudden Swan improvises a melody to a drone using a small set of just-tuned pitches. Each pitch is associated with one or more words which are strung together to create an ever-evolving poetry. The computer responds to variations in the vocal performance with subtle shifts of timbre, pulsating rhythms, and sometimes unpredictable flourishes.

Here’s a snippet of our working score:

sudden swan score snippet

Where I’d Like to Be Tonight (and Tomorrow and…)

La MaMa e.t.c and Interpretations are presenting three recent Robert Ashley operas: Dust (1998), Celestial Excursions (2003) and Made Out of Concrete (2007/2009) beginning tonight and running through January 25. It may confound traditional opera-goers to call these operas, but there’s really no other suitable name. So go and be confounded.

Performers include Robert Ashley, Sam Ashley, Thomas Buckner, Tom Hamilton, Jacqueline Humbert, Joan La Barbara, Joan Jonas and “Blue” Gene Tyranny.