The RBC Bridges Showcase is the product of Soundstreams’ program for emerging composers who are mentored by a more experienced composer in the creation of a new choral work. This year there are six composers and the mentor, by an odd coincidence, is Sarah Kirkland Snider. The works are all for an eight voice ensemble and, in some cases, electronics directed by Gregory Oh. The concert is available until October 21st on Soundstreams’ Youtube channel.
The six works are quite varied . Steven Webb’s Doria uses live electronics and sets an Ezra Pound text dealing with the emotionlessness of depression. As you might expect it’s a sort of soundscape treatment. Tyler Eschendal’s to sever and to splat is a deconstruction of Gesualdo madrigals, pulling them into fragments to acid inspired music.
Jenny Beck’s sown by hand blends the three syllables in various combinations to evoke a blurry image. Akshaya Avril Tucker’s Zoodle is built up of interpretations of cartoon noises” like “Zap!” and “Splat!”. It’s quite fun and sounds a bit like a demented aviary. Francisco del Pino’s I Will sets a secularised version of verses from Matthew 22 on the theme “I will love you (like myself)”. It’s meditative and is also a musical palindrome, which is rather clever.
My favourite was the last piece; Rebecca Gray’s SO sorry for your loss. This deals with how people communicate their “sympathy” to a grieving person on social media. The clever text, which includes emoticons, captures the often tone deaf and self centred responses really very well and it’s backed up by a gestural language for the singers. I found it moving as well as clever.
After a short break there are five pieces from Sarah Kirkland Snider’s thirteen song cycle Songs from Unremembered. This uses an augmented vocal ensemble plus piano and some percussion. The theme is how we half remember the darker side of childhood. The styles of the individual songs are quite varied but they share that quality of really old folks songs of combining the apparently banal and the truly horrific. Definitely worth a listen.
The concert is free and well recorded and there are very good programme notes. Well worth checking out.