Jack Sheen: Croon Harvest. Workshop and Broadcast Programme, 15 Mar—30 Apr 2022
15 Mar — 30 Apr 2022
School of Art, Architecture and Design, LondonMet
Saturday 30 Apr 2022, 11am—5pm
Curated and led by composer and conductor Jack Sheen, Musarc’s third workshop programme this season created a constellation of recent and new works by three composers – Olivia Block (US), Cassandra Miller (CA/UK) and Andrew Hamilton (IE/UK) – with Sheen’s eponymous Croon harvest (2021–ongoing) as a central starting point.
Together, these works explore music in a situated and embodied state, floating on noise and quiet sounds, peeling off from the brink of silence towards a good old sing-along. They represent different topics, preoccupations, and predicaments of music-making in the present, its tentacular and interdisciplinary nature, and its discursive and essayistic drive. In each work, the voice occupies a different space in relation to other sounds, the body, technology, or notions of memory and tradition.
Croon harvest is part of Musarc’s work with contemporary composers and the choir’s commitment to new music – brittle and radical, in need of projection as well as protection and advocacy. For the project, Musarc was joined by some of Neil Luck’s MA students at the Royal College of Music and musicians from the Guildhall School of Music. The four works were recorded at ResonanceExtra at an old Mormon Chapel which the station now runs as an event, rehearsal and performance space. ResonanceExtra will broadcast the programme and Musarc will publish the recordings on a Bandcamp album during summer 2022.
Cara Houghton, Flute
Rowan Jones, Clarinet
Michelle Hromin, Bass clarinet
Andrew Hamilton, Violin
Andrew Liddell, Viola
Rebecca Burden, Cello
Steve Potter, Piano
Director of Music, Jack Sheen
Producer, Joseph Kohlmaier and Milo Thesiger-Meacham
Julian Sander, Sound Engineer
Jack Sheen, Croon Harvest
Croon harvest centres on the voice’s potential to create incredible intimacy in its most hushed, unprojected state, a state within which blemishes, grain, and imperfections ornament the resulting sound. The piece is made up of small, breath-long fragments of vocal sound, with each singer instructed to perform in a way that is closer to humming or mumbling rather than singing in a projected manner.
The piece – a spatialised performance installation – invites a celebration of vacancy, placing gentle vocal lamentations in dialogue with lo-fi recordings of domestic silence taken by the large body of singers that perform the work to create a gentle tapestry of ritualistic activity, soft mumbling and white noise.
Cassandra Miller, Rounding
Commissioned by Contemporary Music for All (CoMA), and published in their book Partsongs (2018), Rounding develops a new manner of creating music as a participatory experience involving a group of amateur musicians. The goal of the work is to engage with a group’s members as unique individuals – each with their own lived experience of listening, meditating, and sounding – rather than relying on any unifying background education (reading music, vocal or choral training). The score functions as instructions for the realisation of the composition process, as well as the realisation of the performance. The work provides an environment wherein the performers learn and share embodied knowledge of musicking. The composition is part of a long-term engagement with embodied research focussed by a method I call ‘automatic singing’, an iterative process of musical (and personal) transformation that involves singing-along to music while meditating … read on
Andrew Hamilton, Product #1
… Product #1 started as a love song and thank you to the man who organized a trip to Gdansk for us in 2008 after a particularly dark time … in all my work I try to take these personal moments and transform/convert them into the abstract, to distil them. Indeed this process can be heard worked out over the duration of Product #1. What begins as a love song gradually gets cut-up and manipulated until by the end it is like viewing an abstracted memory of that song, the personal becomes what Martin would call ‘dimensionless’.