Groot Omroepkoor sings Kate Moore’s Eclipsed Vision: ‘I hope to unite people from every walk of life, male and female’

On the initiative of their new chief Benjamin Goodson the Dutch Groot Omroepkoor introduces a new variation on the now almost obligatory live stream, In the living room. Designed for the radio series AVROTROSVrijdagconcert, the concerts will be broadcast semi live from TivoliVredenburg Utrecht. – Because of the curfew the actual performance takes place in the afternoon and is aired from 8.15 pm. The kick-off on Friday 19 September, is focussed around Stravinsky. On the roster is also Kate Moore’s Eclipsed Vision.

TivoliVredenburg floridly introduces In the living room on their website: ‘We are invited into the living room of the Groot Omroepkoor. A special concert and webcast, where we can get to know the choir in a very different, much more intimate way. An important role is played by director Jorinde Keesmaat and choreographer Kalpana Raghuraman: through arm and hand gestures the singers contribute to a deepening of the music for both the viewer/listener and the choir itself.’

Sunset over Shoalhaven river, view from Bundanon

The concert opens with Eclipsed Vision – living sound sculpture that Kate Moore composed in 2006.‘Jorinde Keesmaat asked me if I had a piece that would reflect the ritual nature of the works of Stravinsky in a pandemic proof situation for choir’, says the Australian-Dutch composer. ‘I immediately thought of Eclipsed Vision, which has a strong ritual character itself, reflecting the resonance, duration and gradual evolving colours in a sunset. It may sound very different from Stravinsky’s sonic world, but I learned so much about rhythm, metre and duration from studying his music. I consider Stravinsky to be my most important teacher – which is also why I was drawn to study composition with Louis Andriessen.’

Moore wrote Eclipsed Vision in 2006, for amateur and professional singers who each only sing one single note, jointly creating a living sound sculpture. ‘I composed it with the idea that it could be performed in any environment, wherein the place and number of singers is determined by the situation. I envisioned silhouettes of people in slow procession, pitted against the twilight mid-summer sky, emitting expanding harmonies in gradual transformation. The duration and resonance of the melodies emerge as rivulets and streams of notes.’

Whence the title Eclipsed Vision? ‘In late October 2006 I was artist in residence at Bundanon, a Trust in New South Wales Australia that supports the arts. Every evening I was witness to an extraordinary light show: the sinking sun was eclipsed by the mountain peaks on the far side of the river, revealing vivid bright colours slowly changing from pinks and purples to reds and oranges, gold and finally a shimmer of green before the cool blue of twilight.’

‘I had a vision-like dream’, Moore continues, ‘where a procession of people walking along the line of the horizon were singing, each person producing their own note, different from all the others but simultaneously in perfect harmony with them. So there is no text – it is solely about tone and resonance. Each tone is taken for a walk through the acoustic space, followed by a stream of tones following the same path in two directions.’

Kate Moore (c) Renske Vrolijk

Though written in pre corona times Eclipsed Vision could perfectly be incorporated in the pandemic proof line-up of the choir, says Moore. ‘Normally the tones would be taken for a walk by the singers but since they are not allowed to walk or face each other and must stand 1.5 metres apart, they pass on the tone from one to the next, so that it is still taken for a walk.’

For practical reasons the tenor Georgi Sztojanov devised a method for the singers to communicate with each other using hand gestures. ‘This proved to be very effective’, says Moore. ‘The tones are transmitted through the line from first to last singer. There are two lines, one for higher voices, and one for lower voices. During rehearsals Georgi very quickly became nicknamed “patient zero”, for he is the one to initiate the stream of notes both to the left and to the right. He is like the wellspring.’

Moore likes writing for choir: ‘I find it fascinating that all the singers are both individuals and part of the whole. Eclipsed Vision is no exception. It is very much about the individual and the way a single person is part of the whole. Each singer must be carefully attuned to their personal rhythm of breathing and concentration but must at the same time listen closely to everyone else. The notes and the musical lines follow their own path like the tides and currents of rivers, like water that is always moving though the people stand still.’

Listening to Eclipsed Vision on Moore’s website associations pop up with the Sonic Meditations Pauline Oliveros developed in the seventies. ‘I am a fan of Pauline Oliveros’, says Moore, ‘but she wasn’t on my mind while composing. Apart from the breath-taking colour scheme of the Bundanon sunset I was inspired by medieval philosophy and science, and by Yves Klein’s Monotone Symphony. My aim was to unite people from every walk of life, male and female, by making them create a communal living sound sculpture.’

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Friday 19 February 2021 8.15 pm, AVROTROSVrijdagconcert
In the Living Room, broadcast and webcam
Groot Omroepkoor / Benjamin Goodson
Jorinde Keesmaat, director / Kalpana Raghuraman, choreography

About Thea Derks

I am a Dutch music journalist, specializing in contemporary music, and a champion of women composers. In 2014 I wrote the biography of Reinbert de Leeuw (3rd edition in 2020) and in 2018 I published 'Een os op het dak: moderne muziek na 1900 in vogelvlucht'.
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