Under the Honorary Chairmanship of Her Majesty Queen Paola
Chapelle Musicale Reine ElisabethChapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth

Collaborations with La Monnaie

La Monnaie, November 2016
Capriccio – R. Strauss
direction : Lothar Koenigs
mise en scène : David Marton
ein Diener : Bertrand Duby, bass

Workshop for female singers on performing vocal music by Morton Feldman with Joan La Barbara

21 September – 03 October 2015

Female singers with some experience in performing contemporary vocal music are invited to join the workshop led by the American vocalist and composer Joan La Barbara.

Considered a vocal virtuoso in the field of contemporary music, Joan La Barbara advanced the vocabulary of extended vocal techniques including trills, whispers, cries, sighs, inhaled tones, and multiphonics. She performed and recorded works by prophetic composers including John Cage, Philip Glass and Morton Feldman. Many iconic vocal works by the 20th and 21st music masters were composed especially for her voice. One of those works is Morton Feldman’s Three Voices for Joan La Barbara (1989) for soprano and tape.

Masterclass and public presentation

This workshop will provide the participants with the in-depth practical insights regarding performing contemporary vocal music, with a special focus on the vocal compositions by Morton Feldman and his work Three Voices for Joan La Barbara. Participants are expected to study this composition in advance and arrive to the workshop prepared.  Each of the participants will receive intense coaching sessions followed by the individual feedback by Joan La Barbara. At the end of the masterclass, three participants will be invited to perform the piece on October 3, as a part of the one-night urban festival Nuit Blanche in Brussels.

>> More info on the Nuit Blanche

The final presentation will be staged on location in the city by the enoa artist Sjaron Minailo, specialized in creating music theater projects bringing together contemporary music, performance and visual arts.

>> Watch a short video of Minailo’s staging of Björk’s opera Medúlla for la Monnaie

Three Voices for Joan La Barbara

The poet Frank O’Hara wrote a poem called Wind, which he dedicated to composer Morton Feldman. Feldman in turn wrote Three Voices, based on the text of Wind, which he dedicated to vocalist and composer Joan La Barbara. The end result is a trio for one, a large concert work for a solo voice; probably the longest work in the Western concert tradition for unaccompanied solo voice (duration of the piece: app. 50 min). The three voices in question perform a cappella, beginning with a wordless vocal pattern that gradually articulates itself into fragments of the O’Hara poem. In its original performance, soprano Joan La Barbara sings one of the work’s musical lines, while accompanied by the work’s remaining two musical lines, which are played back by two synchronized tapes of her voice through two loudspeakers that are placed visibly onstage on either side of the live performer. This vocal composition is a very long and rigorous work, requiring exquisite tuning, pacing and delicacy. Its text consists mainly of vocalize, open vowels without semantic content that are sung in an extensive variety of small rhythmical and melodic cells. Like most of Morton Feldman’s mature work, Three Voices for Joan La Barbara rewards the attentive listener with an astonishing range of rhythms, textures, and emotions.

Listen to the original recording on the piece by Joan La Barbara here

September 20: participant’s arrival to Waterloo
September 21-23:  work on Three Voices with the musical director & recording of the tapes
September 24-27: masterclass by Joan La Barbara (group & individual sessions)
September 27: public presentation (all participants) – vocal work-in-progress
September 28-October 2: staging works on location (stage director: Sjaron Minailo)
October 3: public presentation (3 participants chosen during the workshop) during Nuit Blanche in Brussels

photo credit © 2009, Mark Hahaney

Cast open to:
Piano coach: Polina Bogdanova